Did you know that most Major League Baseball teams allow you to take your pooch to the park to enjoy the game with you? Read on to find out more!
Baseball season is in full swing and fans are filling the ballparks. So are their dogs! Back in 1996, the Chicago White Sox launched an annual event called “Bark at the Park”, during which fans were invited to bring their dogs with them to the game. It was a huge success, and other teams started following suit with special dog days of their own. Now, 21 of the 30 Major League Baseball (MLB) teams allow fans to take their canine compatriots to at least one game, where they can let their pooches watch humans chase balls for a change.
Most teams schedule one or two games per season that allow dogs, although the Pittsburgh Pirates have been hosting ten “Pups in the Park” games at PNC Park every season for several years now. Meanwhile, the Arizona Diamondbacks engaged in some canine one-upmanship last year with the opening of their PetSmart Patio in Phoenix; every Sunday on which there’s a home game, fans and their pooches take over a section of seating that also include a dog park and canine concessions. (In case you’re worried about shade for the dogs on those hot Arizona days, the Diamondbacks Chase Field has a retractable roof.) And not to be outdone, the White Sox won a Guinness World Record last fall for the most dogs to ever attend a sporting event – a total of 1,122 canines accompanied their humans to this landmark Bark in the Park game on September 13, 2016.
Local Humane Societies or SPCAs often participate in ballpark dog days by bringing along some of their charges for adoption. So even if you don’t have a dog to take to the game, you might just go home with one!
Teams go all out for their dog day events. Some bring in sod to construct a pet relief area, while others put attending pups and their owners up on the scoreboard video screen between innings.
What you need to know and bring
If you’re planning to attend a dog-friendly ballgame with your best friend, it’s important to first visit your team’s website for any specific rules and regulations. Read over the following checklist as well:
- If you have a choice of seating, know your ballpark’s east-west seating orientation, and which area gets shade first. Pick a seat that will get the most shade. The ticket booth can assist you. Also bring some dog-friendly natural sunscreen.
- Your dog must be leashed the entire time.
- Even if the park has a relief area for dogs, accidents happen. Be sure you clean up if your dog makes a mess.
- Access to water is crucial, especially for your dog. Bottles of water or a fountain will be readily available at the ballpark. Be sure to pack a drinking bowl.
- A neighboring fan’s hotdog is a tempting target for a hungry pooch. If your dog has begging or food filching issues, keep him close. Bring a few healthy treats to give him.
- Be aware that you may be required to present proof of vaccination at the gate. Check with the park beforehand and ask if they will accept titer test results.
- Remember that there will be lots of other dogs at the game. If your dog isn’t very sociable, or is easily overwhelmed by crowds and noise (some teams celebrate home runs or wins with a small fireworks display), it’s safer to leave him at home.
- A typical ballgame lasts about three hours. Add the time it takes to get in and out of the stadium, and a full baseball outing can push the limits of anyone’s patience, including your dog’s. Be prepared to leave early if your dog starts getting restless, or is just plain tired.
Once you’ve taken all the right precautions, and are sure your dog will enjoy the excitement of a major league baseball game, it’s time to jump in the car with him and head off to the stadium. What better way to bond with your bestie?
MLB teams with dog-friendly games on their schedules
- Arizona Diamondbacks
- Atlanta Braves
- Chicago White Sox
- Cincinnati Reds
- Colorado Rockies
- Detroit Tigers
- Houston Astros
- Kansas City Royals
- Los Angeles Dodgers
- Miami Marlins
- New York Mets
- Oakland Athletics
- Philadelphia Phillies
- Pittsburgh Pirates
- San Diego Padres
- San Francisco Giants
- Seattle Mariners
- St Louis Cardinals
- Tampa Bay Rays
- Texas Rangers
- Washington Nationals
Don’t live near an MLB ballpark? The dog day idea has caught on in the minor leagues as well, and with over 100 Minor League Baseball (MiLB) teams strewn across the country, a day at the ballpark for you and your dog may only be a short road trip away. Check your local bush league team’s promotional schedule for dates.