How to spend quality time with your Chicago pup

On March 23, your social media feeds will be flooded with even more photos of dogs as pet owners everywhere will celebrate National Puppy Day. In Chicago, there are plenty of ways to bark—or rather, mark—the occasion, especially now that the weather is warmer! Besides giving your pup an extra treat or belly rub, try these pawesome ideas to mark the occasion.

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 on a monthly basis.

Head to the best dog beach.

If your dog likes to make new friends and swim (and if it’s warm enough—thanks Chicago winter), 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(1430 W. Willow St., Chicago) 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.

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 (The Allegro, Palomar and Monaco) are so pet-friendly that they even have a Director of Pet Relations on-site at each Chicago location.

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 (4501 N. Ravenswood Ave., Chicago) 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) and Paw Naturals (932 W. Monroe St., Chicago).

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.

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