Socializing Your Puppy
Basil just turned five months old and we have had the best time taking him all around town for the past three months! We are super passionate about having a social dog that we can take with us on vacations, to the Beltline or the park, and just generally out with us when we do things for the day. To get him prepared for our lifestyle, we have been socializing Basil as much as we can.
Lucky for us, Atlanta is a super dog-friendly city! Most restaurants and breweries will accept dogs- and I was so surprised with how many other small businesses will open the door for your pup, too. I’m so excited to share some of the favorite spots we have taken Basil to get him socialized.
We have seen so many benefits in socializing Basil- its made him more comfortable riding in the car, calmer around people, and less afraid of crowds, random noises, cars, bikes, and large dogs. Taking him around town also keeps him stimulated, learning, and out of the house. And, it’s built trust between us as he knows Ryan and I will rescue him and scoop him up if he gets too scared. When we first got Basil, he was terrified of a car driving by (we think he was tossed out of a window when he was abandoned, which breaks my heart!). Now, he’s happy to ride in the front seat of a car and is relaxed when they are driving by, even in the city.
Our Favorite Pup-Friendly Spots in Atlanta
Breweries & the Beltline
The Beltline is the first place I thought of when I pictured us taking Basil out and about. All of the bars and restaurants are dog friendly and it’s the perfect place to go if you want to bring your dog out for the day!
Our Favorite Spots: New Realm, Ladybird, Brew Dog, Pour, Guac Y Margys
Tips: If it’s your pup’s first time out and about, do not start at the Beltline. We waited a full two months of weekends with Basil out before venturing out, and went on a cloudy Sunday to ensure no major crowds! Depending on how long you are out, it’s a lot of walking if you have a small dog, so be prepared to carry them if needed.
Perfect for: Helping your pup navigate crowds, be around other dogs and all sorts of people, loud noises, bicycles, scooters, and roller blades. It’s also great for helping your pup on their leash walking with many distractions down a path.
A lot of chain stores in Atlanta (and the US) are pet friendly, which was surprising to me as a first time dog owner! I was so excited to learn that shops are pet friendly, because I hate leaving Basil at home when I want to run a few errands. Plus, getting him out in our routine was the perfect excuse for him to have more exposure to the car.
Great Atlanta Pet Stores: If you want to ease into taking your pup shopping, start at a local pet store! Some great ones right in Atlanta are: The Whole Dog Market, Inman Park Pet Works, The Pet Set, City Dog Market, Park Pet Supply, & Highland Pet Supply.
Our Favorite Spots: My favorite stores to bring Basil are the outdoor sections of Hardware Stores (Loews or Home Depot), Nordstrom, Michaels, Loft, & Homegoods. This article by Rover has a great list of chain stores that allow dogs.
Tips: We usually call ahead or ask an associate to confirm Basil is able to come inside, and we don’t usually take him to the store solo- it’s much easier with two people. Be very careful at hardware stores- we almost had Basil try to eat a bag of fertilizer at Lowes when it was on the ground ripped open- now we only take him in the outdoor area.
Perfect for: Being around people and children, getting exposure to car rides, different lights, environments, smells, and noises. Plus, it’s fun to let them pick out their own toys in Home Goods! 🙂
State Parks & Hikes
Taking Basil on hikes was the first thing we did for his socialization because he was so afraid of cars and super distracted by other people when we tried to take him on walks around the neighborhood! Hikes are a great way to get a puppy’s energy out during the early weeks when they don’t have all their shots yet, because they tend to be less crowded. Georgia State Parks has a friendly policy for dogs- they’re allowed in almost every park, and there is even a Tails on the Trails club.
Our Favorite Spots: Basil loves playing in water, so we have been hiking around the Chattahoochee river or lakes! For a day trip, Sweetwater State Park is always a win. For something closer, we love Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area in Vinings. When we are up north, we also love Amicalola Falls– read my blog post on it here.
Tips: I always make sure we do short hikes with Basil because he’s still young, and so far he maxes out at about four miles and doesn’t do as well on hilly treks. When we hike with Basil, I always make sure to put him on a harness, rather than his regular collar which is easier on him. And, make sure you have baby wipes & beach towels in the car if you think your pup will go swimming.
Perfect for: Getting your pup used to walking on a leash with fewer distractions, and around water if you end up by the river! I always find that the people with dogs that you meet on hikes are generally friendlier- Basil has had his best interactions with other dogs while on hikes or at State Parks (he gets really upset when he sees other dogs with owners that don’t want to say hello). It’s also the best exercise if you feel like your pup is getting restless and needs a good walk!
Dog Bars and Parks (For when your pup is older)
Basil isn’t quite old enough for dog parks yet and we are lucky to have a fenced in yard, but Atlanta has several amazing dog parks and even two locations of Fetch Park in the city! Make sure your pup is fully vaccinated and has the clearance from your vet before you dive into big groups.
You should also test waters with play dates first- Basil probably won’t do dog parks until he is a year or older because he is not comfortable in groups yet. We currently take Basil to puppy socialization classes. Usually he spends the hour crying, cowering behind us, the entire time. He is fine with dogs 1:1 but the second he is with a group, he is trembling.
Options for Young Pups & Starting Slow: Our favorite puppy socialization class in Atlanta is at Central Bark, which is free for Puppy Power Hour on Saturdays (make sure your register online before you go!). There are also puppy hours at Doguroo.
Our Favorite Spots for Pups that are Ready: We haven’t been to any of these spots yet because Basil is too young- but I’ve heard great things about Fetch and the the dog park in Piedmont Park is huge. I recommend using Bring Fido to find the best dog parks closest to you.
The Best Pup Friendly Trip: Savannah
We went to Savannah with Basil when he was about two months old in January and had the best time- it was the best thing we did to socialize him! Off seson was the perfect time of year to go- it was not too crowded, and the beaches were open to pups.
Basil had a lot of firsts in Savannah- his first long car ride, his first hotel stay, his first pup cup, his first time in stores, his first time around groups of people and children, his first time on the beach….taking him was huge for his socialization.
The trip was the perfect way to celebrate having him in our lives too- it was so fun to “show him off” to the world! Basil loved the attention, too- we couldn’t go two feet without getting stopped by people wanting to pet him. By the end of the weekend, people were greeting him from across the street by name!
Our the Weekend Favorites with a 10 Week Pup
Our Favorite Spots: We were pleasantly surprised by how dog friendly Savannah was! All of the shops on the Riverfront welcomed him inside with dog treats, and you have to stop by J. Christopher’s- which has its own dog menu!- if you bring your pup. It was also the perfect place to get Basil walking around, because the squares offered breaks from the cars (Basil was still terrified of cars when we went), and the parks and cemeteries are great for exploring. For ideas of things to do, you can read Savannah guides here and here!
Where to Stay: We stayed at the Alida Hotel on the Riverfront, which is dog friendly! It’s in the perfect location, right in the center of the Riverfront, which was great for having to walk less when Basil was tired. It also has an incredible rooftop bar- I still dream about the mussels on their menu. The hotel is perfectly suited for having a pup- the rooms are large (plenty of room for a crate!), and there are even water stations on each floor which was perfect for topping up his bowl. There were tons of pups staying there, too- Basil made a few friends!
Beaches: We took Basil to Tybee Island for the day, which is the closest beach to Savannah. However- if you are going for longer, Saint Simons Island will always have my heart (and the best barbeque in state). Most beaches in Georgia allow pups in the off season, which is perfect for getting them used to being on the sand and water! Basil loved his trip and I love that we taught him to enjoy the beach before our summer vacation.
Tips: We just ‘went for it’ when we brought Basil along on our trip, half expecting to have to abandon the whole thing a few hours in. But, it turned out to be a success! We did a few things to make Basil comfortable- including lugging his crate, an entire bag of toys, and a sound machine with us, While driving, we stopped every 30 minutes on the drive and I sat with him in a pile of blankets and toys in the back seat. When we were there, we took breaks walking around so he could nap, and also ended our evenings pretty early so that he could have some relaxing time and not be too exhausted- we could tell when he was ‘done’ every night and needed some quiet.
Perfect for: Taking your pup on a trip is like ripping off the Band-Aid and exposing your pup to everything. Basil was around crowds, different bodies of water, cars, trolleys, bikes, was greeted by children, heard loud music, wandered through stores, ate at restaurants, learned to sleep in his crate away from home….the list goes on. Taking him away for the weekend was the perfect choice for exposing him to everything all at once! Plus, he loved every second of attention getting greeted on the street (which was constant)- he was in his glory. 😉
What to Bring for Your Pup Out & About
I always bring the essentials with us when we are heading out- whether it’s for an hour or two, or for the day. Once Basil is older, I might risk it and pack light, but for now we have had enough situations where we have needed something from the below list in a pinch!
You can find most of the items on the below in my Amazon Storefront (I do earn a small comission on your purchase)!
I also keep baby wipes, beach towels, a travel crate, and extra toys in my car at all times- and I have a seat protector over my back seat, which is linked in my storefront as well!
What I Pack in Basil’s Bag
- Travel water bottle
- hand towel
- baby wipes
- baggie of one serving of kibble
- baggie of treats
- teething toys
- stuffed animal
- collapsible food bowl
- bandana (accessories are a must 😉 )
- bone to chew on
- tennis ball or another throw toy