Of course you want to take your pup on every adventure, but there are some key things to keep in mind before hitting the orchard.
dog in apple orchard; can dogs go apple picking?
Credit: Eve Photography / Shutterstock

Crisp fall days are perfect for wandering through pumpkin patches, corn mazes, and apple orchards. And, as we all know, every activity is made better with four-legged family members by our side. Animal lovers are apt to wonder, "can I take my dog apple picking?"

The short answer: It depends. Here's everything you need to know before heading out for some dog-friendly apple picking.

Can Dogs Eat Apples Safely?

Yes, feeding your dog apples is perfectly safe. But before letting your pup take a chomp out of one, follow these guidelines:

  • If your pet hasn't tried an apple yet, introduce a little bit before going to an orchard. Some dogs might be allergic or sensitive to them.
  • Don't give your dog a whole apple. Instead, peel the fruit and cut away the core, seeds, and stem. Offer your pooch a few bite-sized slices. 
  • Apples are an occasional sweet treat, not an everyday snack. Veterinarians recommend that a dog's daily diet include no more than 10 percent non-meal nibbles.

Can Dogs Go Apple Picking?

Whether or not your pup can join you for apple picking depends on two things: the orchard and the dog.

Successful apple picking with dogs hinges primarily on whether they feel comfortable. During the height of the season, an apple orchard is buzzing with activity, filled with many other adults and children, tractors and other motor vehicles, and perhaps even farm animals. Even the most outgoing dogs might become anxious or fearful in this environment if they're not already socialized to adapt to new people, places, and experiences.

Prepare your pooch ahead of time with some positive reinforcement training centered on other situations outside the home. Let him acclimate to changing environments gradually by taking him to a pet store during slow periods or a picnic at a nearby park. You'll notice quickly by your dog's body language how each atmosphere affects him.

Always check the orchard's pet policy before hitting the road. Just as farmers' markets have guidelines for non-therapy and service animals, apple orchards also have to follow municipal and state laws outlining the health and safety standards regarding pets at public functions. Additionally, some orchards might allow dogs on the grounds, but not inside buildings. Researching ahead of time ensures you find the best event for both two-legged and four-legged friends.

5 Dog-Friendly Apple Picking Orchards

Fortunately, there are many places to take your dog apple picking—and some even have special events just for pets! So, you can get a bushel of delicious fruit and make your pup believe the entire excursion is just for him. 

Here's a small sample of the most popular dog-friendly apple orchards across the U.S.

Big B's Fruit Company in Hotchkiss, Colo.

Flush with different types of produce for most of the year, Big B's really shines late summer through November. As a staple in the North Fork Valley on the western slope since 1973, it has a fine selection of the Centennial State's apples and amps up the experience with live music events, a cafe and taproom, camping, and glamping. Big B's invites "well-behaved" dogs on leashes in most areas of the property, especially when you're ready to kick back under the stars with a specialty juice or hard cider. 

Deardorff Orchards and Vineyard in Waconia, Minn.

More than a century old, the historic Deardorff Orchard now has approximately 4,000 apple trees and unique Minnesota varieties such as the Haralson, Honeycrisp, and Zestar. Not only can you take your dog apple picking, but you can also let him curl up at your feet while you enjoy a wine tasting at Deardorff's other company, the dog-friendly Parley Lake Winery.  

Justus Orchard in Hendersonville, N.C.

Featuring a bakery overflowing with apple-inspired delights, it's no wonder this fifth-generation farm in Western North Carolina is a hot spot this time of year. Justus Orchard grows approximately 20 fruit varieties and welcomes dogs, so plan on spending the day.

Kiyokawa Family Orchards in Parkdale, Ore.

Since 1911, the Kiyokawa Family Orchards in the Hood River Valley have produced the finest pears, cherries, and dozens of heirloom apple varieties, including the unique red-fleshed Mountain Rose. Once voted the #1 apple orchard by USA Today, you and your "well-mannered dog on a leash" can pick apples in the u-pick area, but he'll have to wait outside the farm stand and fruit tents while you choose tasty jams, ciders, and other goodies to take home.  

Nashoba Valley Winery and Orchard in Bolton, Mass.

Another prime destination for apple picking with dogs is the Nashoba Valley Winery and Orchard. Its site has a detailed list of guidelines for dog visitors so you know what to expect. Plan ahead to reserve a dog-friendly table at the Vintner's Knoll after a fun day in the orchard, but if you'd rather go to the on-site restaurant, brewery, or distillery, your pupper will likely need to stay cozy at home.

Tips for Taking Your Dog Apple Picking

Here's how to ensure you and your furry friend have the best fall day ever!

  • Make sure your dog is skilled with the "leave it" and "drop it" cues so he doesn't snarf up apples on the ground.
  • Keep your dog on a regular, non-retractable leash
  • While many dog-friendly apple orchards feature water stations, pack a travel water bottle just in case. 
  • Take care of business before heading out, but have a few poop bags at the ready, too. All orchards expect you to clean up after your pup.
  • Fall weather is often unpredictable, so stash away your dog's sweater or raincoat in the car so he stays comfortable.
  • Give your dog frequent breaks from all the hubbub by finding a quiet space to sit, have a little drink and snack, and enjoy the seasonal splendor.