Dog parents are always looking for fun things to do with their pups, and some of us like to think outside the crate. Is Yappy Hour getting a little too humdrum for Fido? Are you tired of strutting your mutt in the local pet parade? If your pooch is ready to stretch his legs and mark some new territory, check out these 11 unique, colorful and frankly unexpected dog events around the country.
Dog Park on Ice(South Daytona, FL)
For one day, Fido can experience the closest thing to a triple axel he'll ever attempt. The Dog Park on Ice invites two- and four-legged friends to have fun and socialize while ice skating, slipping, sliding and probably falling down. There’s a session for small dogs, one for large dogs, and a third for all dogs.
The Dog Park on Ice takes place in January at the Daytona Ice Arena. Ticket prices ($15 for adults and $10 for children) include admission onto the ice, booties for your dog, pizza and a drink. Proceeds help raise funds for the Halifax Humane Society.
Welcome to Pawgwarts(Charlotte, NC)
Calling all Ravenpups and Gryffindogs! Lucky Dog Bark & Brew at Steele Creek hosts Welcome to Pawgwarts, an annual day of wizarding fun. The event includes raffles, treats, a photo booth with Harry Potter-approved props and, of course, dogs dressed to impress the headmaster.
Dogs are invited to Pawgwarts each January at Lucky Dog Bark & Brew in the Steele Creek suburb of Charlotte. All donation proceeds and 10% of bar sales go to a local charity. Please note, this is a 21+ event.
K9 Keg Pull(Sunriver, OR)
You never know when you’ll need your dog to do something heroic, like rescuing a child from a well, alerting you when there’s a fire… or bringing you a keg of beer. If you want your pup to get a head start on fetching your favorite brewski, you might want to register for a K9 Keg Pull.
Keg pulls are becoming quite the winter event for dogs, but with more than 150 four-legged contestants in 2019, the one at Sunriver is one of the largest. It’s quite a sight to watch dogs of all sizes and abilities racing along and pulling an empty beer keg mounted on a sled or snowboard. If you think the keg will be too much of a strain on your dog, don’t worry; participating pups are sorted into one of several weight classes and matched to an appropriately sized (and always empty) keg.
The Sunriver K9 Keg Pull takes place in February at the Village at Sunriver. The entry fee is $15 per dog, but attendance is free. Proceeds go to the American Cancer Society Bark for Life.
New York Pet Fashion Show(New York City, NY)
Shih Tzu Better Werk. The fashionistas of the furry set hit the runway at the annual New York Pet Fashion Show in February. The show benefits the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, and past themes have included Country Couture and Western Wear.
This glam dog event is held in February at the Hotel Pennsylvania. Ticket prices start at $50.
Bow Wow Film Festival(Austin, TX)
Now in its fifth year, the Bow Wow Film Festival celebrates cinema “for the love of dog” and makes an annual stop in Austin. While the traveling film fest visits many cities, Austin is the only one that welcomes Fido. We're sure he (and you) will appreciate 90 minutes of the year’s best pooch-themed shorts, and if you want to test your directorial skills (or your pup’s star power), you can even submit a film!
Frankenmuth Dog Bowl(Frankenmuth, MI)
The Olympics for dogs? That’s exactly what the good people of Frankenmuth have created. Over time, the Dog Bowl has become the largest olympic-style dog event in the world. With close to 30 four-legged activities, a Dog Bowl King and Queen, a canine cruise, and even hot air balloons, there’s something for every breed (human and canine).
The Frankenmuth Dog Bowl takes place in May at Frankenmuth River Place Shops. Attendance is free, but registration fees vary by event.
Day of the Dog(Washington, DC)
Washington, DC’s Day of the Dog sounds normal enough, until you realize it’s held in a cemetery. Why our nation’s capital chose to pay homage to our best friends in a graveyard remains one of DC’s greatest mysteries… actually no, it’s a fairly simple explanation. The pristine grounds of Congressional Cemetery are known as one of the best places to walk dogs, but they're usually restricted to DC’s K9 Corps. For one day a year, the cemetery opens its gates to all pups and their humans. This fun dog event includes contests, raffles, pet-centric artists and businesses, and food trucks and breweries. Best of all, many of DC’s pet shelters and rescue organizations bring dogs and cats available for adoption.
Day of the Dog is held annually in May at Congressional Cemetery. Admission is free.
The World's Ugliest Dog Contest(Petaluma, CA)
Whoo boy, does your pup have a mug only a mother could love? Ugly beautiful dogs around the world compete every year for the coveted title of the World’s Ugliest Dog. Mastiffs with massive jowls, Chinese Crested dogs with questionable mohawks, and other unique mutts face off at this weird and fun competition that truly celebrates the underdogs.
In 2018 it was Zsa Zsa, an English Bulldog with a championship drool, who took home the grand prize of $1,500 and a trip to New York. Even if you don’t participate, you can buy tickets to attend the event. Note that only dogs who are competing in the event are allowed, so if your pooch is just too beautiful, she’ll have to stay behind at the hotel. Better still, leave her in the care of a local dog sitter.
The World's Ugliest Dog Contest takes place in June at the Sonoma Marin Fairgrounds in Petaluma. Tickets are $15 if purchased in advance, $18 at the gate.
Coon Dog Day(Saluda, NC)
Any festival that rewards your dog for barking at a fake raccoon belongs on this list. Coon Dog Day is North Carolina’s annual tribute to its state dog, the Coon. Held in the city of Saluda, this quirky dog event attracts more than 10,000 people annually and includes a parade, street fair, dog judging competition, and a “treeing contest” in which the dog who bays the longest at a fake raccoon is crowned the winner.
Coon Dog Day takes place in July in downtown Saluda. Admission is fee.
World Dog Surfing Championships(Pacifica, CA)
Grab your board and catch some waves with your pooch at the World Dog Surfing Championships. This annual event offers humans and their pups the chance to compete for the top prize in a tandem surfing contest, or Fido can go it alone in the solo competition. Their two extra legs might give dogs an unfair advantage, but we dare you not to cheer as you watch them balance on their boards and coast through the calm surf. In addition to watching the four-legged surfers, you and your pooch can attend a pet wellness fair, a dog disc competition, a costume contest, and more.
The World Dog Surfing Championship is held each August at Linda Mar Beach in Pacifica. Attendance is free, and a portion of the proceeds go to dog-related non-profits.
Dog Walk of the Dead(Augusta, NJ)
Taking Howl’oween to the next level, Dog Walk of the Dead proves that dogs are a zombie’s best friend. As the undead strut with their mutts, they're usually serenaded by live music acts. The event also includes a pet costume contest, a classic car trunk or treat, and more. Ironically, in past years it has also hosted blood drives.
Dogs get to walk with the dead every October at the Sussex County Fairground in Augusta. A $3 donation per person goes to One Step Closer Animal Rescue.