Fun Things to Do with Your Dog in Chicago

We shared our favorite things to do with your city pups.

In Chicago, there are plenty of ways to spend quality time with your dog. Besides giving your pup an extra treat or belly rub, try these pawesome ideas.

Volunteer at an animal shelter.

Shelters like The Anti-Cruelty Society and PAWS always need volunteers to groom, walk and play with dogs, as well as make toys for them. Both shelters have parent-child volunteer opportunities, too.

Head to the best dog beach.

If your dog likes to make new friends and swim, a dog beach is a perfect place for them to play. Montrose Harbor (Montrose and Simonds Drive, Chicago) is known as the best dog beach in the city, primarily due to its play area size (nearly 4 acres of fenced-in space) and ease of parking. Plus, it is the only dog beach where dogs can be off-leash. If you opt to visit a dog beach, familiarize yourself with vaccination and ID requirements.

Teach your pup how to swim.

Whether your pup is active, calm or just loves to splash around, Doggy Paddle Aquatic Center helps your dog have fun while staying fit. Learn to swim sessions introduce dogs of all ages to the joys of water. A calm dogs pool lets older dogs relax while an active dogs pool channels their energy with competitive swimming, jumping and retrieving.

Go sightseeing for pawesome views.

Sightseeing boat tours are a must for any Chicagoan or tourist visiting the city — and that includes your city pup! Many sightseeing companies have tours designed just for doggos, including Mercury’s Canine Cruise and Seadog Cruises by City Experiences. Shoreline Sightseeing also welcomes leashed pups. 

Take Fido shopping.

While a trip to PetSmart or Petco is always an adventure, many stores in Chicago will allow you to carry a small dog or walk with a well-behaved leash dog while shopping. Some dog-friendly stores include Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, Anthropologie, and Crate and Barrel. Always call ahead to make sure the pet policies haven’t changed.

Take a staycation at a dog-friendly hotel. 

Did Buster have a ruff day? Treat him to some R&R by having a staycation downtown, where several pet-friendly hotels offer special perks like doggy room service, beds, toys and discounts at local groomers. Kimpton Hotels are so pet-friendly that they sometimes even have a Director of Pet Relations on site.

Treat your dog to a massage.

Canine massage has many proven benefits, including boosting a dog’s immune system, easing hyperactivity and reducing anxiety. Plus, it is just doggone relaxing (or so we imagine). Urban Pooch Canine Life Center offers 15, 30 and 45-minute massage sessions with certified canine massage therapists (yes, that’s actually a thing).

Visit a top-rated pet store.

Whether you’re looking for gourmet dog food (truffle mac and cheese dog treats), high-end accessories (leashes, collars, furniture) or even a sporty jersey for your pup, there are plenty of pet stores dedicated to dogs. Some of our favorites are Wigglyville (3 city locations), Paw Naturals (West Loop) and A Paw Place (Hyde Park).

Take your dog to the Starbucks drive-thru.

There are tons of secret menu items from Starbucks, but only one is suited for dogs. Grab them a free Puppuccino. While it sounds fancy, it is essentially an espresso cup filled with whipped cream. Judging by the thousands of videos of dogs devouring this on social media, we’d say they are a hit.

Let them explore the coolest dog park.

There are plenty of dog parks to choose from in Chicago, but one of our favorites is Jackson Bark. It’s located near the tennis courts in Hyde Park’s Jackson Park. Once you’re there, dogs roam around the obstacles like car tires and ramps made from construction signs.


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Lori Orlinsky
Lori Orlinsky
Lori Orlinsky is an award-winning journalist and bestselling children's book author. She is the mom of three little ladies who keep her on her toes.
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