Woof, woof: it’s time to let the dogs out.  Besides providing you with endless companionship and entertainment, from nabbing your sandwiches to massacring your toilet paper rolls, your dog increases your oxytocin, a chemical in your brain that allows you to bond with others, says a 2012 study. Dog owners are also 50% more likely to squeeze in 30 minutes of exercise a day, five days per week. They lower your heart rate, stress level, and cholesterol, according to  The American Heart Association.  On top of all that, dogs take a bite out of your sick days and decrease your allergies. Yes, puppy love is power.  So, here are six locations that’ll help you fetch happiness.

 

1. The American Kennel Club (AKC) Museum of Dog, Saint Louis, Missouri

Art has gone to the dogs — literally. The Museum of Dog, the country’s only house of fine arts devoted exclusively to man’s best friend, boasts over 3,000 books and 4,000  photos, sculptures, and paintings, ranging from spiked dog collars to antique dog toys. Moving to its original digs in The Big Apple in mid-to-late 2018, the current Queeny Park location has a Hall of Fame honoring K-9 champions, K-9 warriors, and K-9 pop culture icons, such as Rin Tin Tin. From “Fitness with Fido” workout classes to breed specific dog clubs, it’s never been so easy to culture your canine. “Dogs are welcome to sniff out the artwork and each other,” says Stephen George, the museum’s executive director.

 

2. Bark in the Park, Cincinnati, Ohio

Decked out in a Reds’ jersey, this beagle burns off excess energy in the pre-game dog parade | Photo: Brendan Hader

Arf! Hot dogs, popcorn, cracker jacks: take your dog out to the ball game. Fido can’t actually play ball, but he can still watch it while woofing for your home team. As your dog runs the bases during the pregame parade, he can channel his inner Babe Ruth or Jackie Robinson. You can also shop ‘til you drop at Bark in the Park’s vendor booths, where you can buy team swag like jerseys, reflective dog collars, and baseball ropes toys — that you can turn into souvenirs with power players’ signatures. Meet SPCA Cincinnati’s current roster of adoptable dogs, who just want to “play ball!” with a forever pet parent. And, baseball buffs, if you make an additional donation to the non-profit, you can also pose with your barking buddy in front of a team backdrop.

 

3. Barkfield Road, East Northport, New York  

Barkfield Road

In 2016, Barkfield Road was named the “Best Organic Pet Food Supply Store” by the Long Island Press | Photo: Denise Rafkind

Happy birthday, Spot. Whether your dog is celebrating her first birthday (or her 7th in human years), Barkfield Road has the yum, yum, yummy treats she craves.  From mega peanut butter B-day bones to Peeps for your pup, the bakery’s treats are all-natural, healthy, and human-grade. Its shelves are teeming with Unbreakoballs, Tuffy pet toys, and Goughnut Blacks. “Rover is welcome to roam the aisles,” says Carol Andersen, Barfield Road’s owner.

 

4. Yappy Hour, Dana Point, California

Yappy Hour Dogs in Purses

Two Yorkie-poos are whisked across Cypress Lawn in floral purses | Photo: Deanne French

Bark your calendars: the Ritz-Carlton is hosting its monthly Yappy Hour, where you can schmooze and sniff with fellow dog lovers and their tail-waggers. Canine clientele is offered hand-made dog biscuits with bacon, chicken, cheese, beef, and liver-flavored water. B-b-b-b-bacon! “Bacon water is the number one pooch pick-me-up,” a hotel company rep barked. Though, beef is a close second. Pet owners can also chow down on hot dogs, hamburgers, and sushi while kicking back a glass of Mutt Lynch Unleashed Chardonnay, Merlot Over and Play Dead, or Château d’Og Cabernet Sauvignon. From Howl-O-Ween costume parties to photo ops with Santa Paws, it’s pampering with a purpose.  Proceeds from this year’s Yappy Hours will go to the Wounded Veterans Initiative of Canine Companions for Independence: a nonprofit that’s provided over 5,000 highly-trained assistance dogs to disabled warriors.

 

5. World Dog Expo, Secaucus, New Jersey

Furry Face Contest Mia

Mia, the winner of the 2017 Famous Furry Face Contest, will be featured on the World Dog Expo’s promotional magnets | Photo: Alyx Robertson

If you heart dogs, the World Dog Expo’s three-day extravaganza is for you.  You can watch top canine competitors duke it out to win the championship crown in diving, dancing, flyball, and more. Shake paws with over 80 different breeds at the World Dog Showcase. Hit up the “Paws On” booths, and let your dog take toys for a test run and nibble exotic treats. You can also let your dog show his wild side at the temporary tattoos and color spray station. Need a little person-puppy bonding time? Register for the World Dog Experience. You and your doggie dearest will be able to participate in education, training, and sport events.

 

6. Statue of Balto, the Husky Hero, New York, New York  

Balto-Central Park-credit the Central Park Conservancy (1)

A statue of Balto, sculpted by Brooklyn-based artist Frederick Roth, was erected in Central Park on December 15, 1925 | Photo: The Central Park Conservancy

 

In March of 1925, Balto and his pack of 12 dogs raced 674 miles in just five-and-a-half days — over treacherous waters and through arctic blizzards — to deliver life-saving medicine to the children of Nome, Alaska, who had contracted a lethal respiratory disease. Commemorated each March by the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, this life-or-death dash actually involved 20 drivers and more than 150 dogs.  However, Balto was the only one catapulted to superstardom.  Within weeks of crossing the finish line, he appeared in a two-reel film “Balto’s Race to Nome”.  And, after a nine-month variety tour, Central Park erected a bronze tribute near the Tisch Children’s Zoo. Standing on a rocky outcrop with his tongue wagging, tail curled, and deeply burnished, Balto is a park favorite. Visitors frequently climb onto his back and rub his ears during photo ops.  Others contemplate the words on his plaque: courage, intelligence, fidelity — words to live by for dog lovers and their four-legged friends.