Silly Dog with Tennis BallsThe days are getting warmer, spring is in the air, and if you’re like me you’re looking for fun activities to get outside with your dogs. I’m happy to say that Knoxville has several great options for you and your furry friends, ranging from dog-focused events to dog sporting groups.

We’re going to take a look at 5 of my top suggestions for local pet friendly events, activities, and groups for you and your dog to take part in this spring and summer. Hope to see you out there!

1. Bark in the Park (Market Square)

This annual event is the Humane Society of the Tennessee Valley’s largest fundraiser of the year. It brings thousands of dogs and their owners to Market Square in downtown Knoxville. This year will be the 20th annual hosting of this event, and will take place Saturday, June 14, 6-9pm. Come down and eat dinner on one of the dog friendly patios at a participating restaurant, and then fido can strut his stuff in the games and contests – $10 to enter. There will also be all kinds of vendor booths to browse.

2. Walk and Wag (Victor Ashe Park)

This 3rd annual event on Saturday, June 7th, is a dog friendly and family event held in memory of 10 year old Abby Gibson, a young girl who loved all animals and passed away due to injuries from a horseback riding accident. This event raises money for a variety of animal-focused organizations including a scholarship endowment fund at UT’s Vet school, H.A.B.I.T, H.A.L.T, and The Knoxville Zoo’s ZooFund for Kids. The event will start with Abby’s Memorial Walk at 10am, followed by festivities in the park from 11am-1pm. You’ll find vendors, prize drawings, contests for dogs, low cost vaccinations/microchipping, demonstrations by a K-9 unit, and much more.

3. Critter Fest (Maryville)Dog Swimming with Tennis Balll

This annual event is held June 17 from 12pm-5pm on Maryville College Campus to benefit the Blount County Humane Society. It’s a family friendly event with free admission that traditionally includes silly pet contests, a K-9 demonstration, a blessing of the animals, kids games/face painting, and plenty of adoptable pets. More information on this year’s event should be coming out soon.

4. East TN Dog Meet Up Group

This group is for dogs and their humans to get out and explore East TN together. They have “meet ups” in Knoxville and surrounding areas, and are open to singles, married, and kids. Their events normally include going to dog parks, hiking, walking greenways, participating in dog events, and eating at outdoor cafes together. They schedule meetups in Knoxville, as well as Oak Ridge, Maryville, and other surrounding East Tennessee cities.

5. Knoxville Dog Sports

There are several local organizations that promote dog sporting events. Smoky Mountain DockDogs participate in dock diving, a sport for dogs of all sizes that love the water and jumping off docks into it! Big Orange Blast is a flyball club in Knoxville . If you don’t know what flyball is, it is described as a dog sport in which teams of dogs race against each other from a start/finish line, over a line of hurdles, to a box that releases a tennis ball to be caught when the dog presses the spring-loaded pad, then back to their handlers while carrying the ball. Barn Hunt Knoxville is another dog sport that humanely demonstrates a dog’s vermin hunting ability in finding and marking rats in a “barn-like” setting, using straw/hay bales to introduce climbing and tunneling obstacles in the dog’s path.

As you can see there are multiple events, groups, and activities that promote dogs and all the fun that can be had with them. So this spring and summer I encourage you to get out with your family pooch, and explore all that Knoxville has to offer!

photo credits: another fun dog via photopin (license)Dog Swim 2014_09_14_002 via photopin (license)