Did you know that most major league teams allow dogs to attend at least some games in the season? It’s not a new idea either. It was way back in 1996 when the Chicago White Sox came up with the idea for “Bark at the Park.” This was an annual event where fans were encouraged to bring along their four-legged friends. It worked out incredibly well, so other teams started to off their own versions of this event. 21 of 30 Major league Baseball Teams now hold these events, which have continued to be really popular.
Recently the White Sox went further and entered the Guinness Book of World records as having the most dogs attend a sporting event. There were massive 1,122 dogs at this event.
Many clubs make a big thing about their pet days and go out of their way to make the pets comfortable.
Obviously, there have to be certain restrictions are regulations for dog owners. They can vary from club to club, but the most common ones are:
- Need to buy the ticket in advance (online)
- · A waiver has to be signed
- · Your dog has to have proof of vaccination
- · Only one dog per person
- · Dogs and owners are normally restricted to a certain area in the stadium
- · Your dog must remain on a leash the entire time
- · No puppies (must be over 4-6 months depending on the stadium).
The number of dog days run by the various teams varies from just one to six games. One exception is the Pittsburgh Pirates who have dog packages every Tuesday night home game. The Pirates have to be awarded the title of the most pet-friendly team in the Major League.
COVID-19 & Plans for Special Pet Events
With the 2021 Major League season due to start in April, but still not confirmed, there is a lot of uncertainty about what is happening in the 2021 season. Normally it would be possible by now to give details of Pets Events at the various stadiums, it is still very much in the air as to exactly what will happen this year.
In the following section, I will provide information about what has occurred in the past, on the assumption that similar will take place this year I also supply a link where further information can be obtained.
Top 14 Dog-Friendly Major League Teams
Dog Days of Summer which is presented by PetSmart Charities is normally an event held at the Diamondbacks Stadium. Ticket packages include a semi-private area that can accommodate four people and one dog in a designated area. Each table also gets all you can eat hotdogs, sodas, popcorn, and chips. Individual tickets cost $50 and a family group must buy all four tickets. There is also an air-conditioned indoor dog park. There are conditions and you must book in advance.
Bark at the Park is normally presented by Kroger, Pet Pride, and WAG-A-LOT. No information is available at the time of writing.
Cincinnati Reds normally feature an event called Bark in the Park. This event normally includes a parade of the dogs. To ensure you can take part get there early as the number of places is capped. There is typically a dog expo and the SPCA has several dogs looking for new homes.
The Colorado Rockies have an annual Bark at the Park event. With each human ticket, one dog can enter free. There are special events and you get to watch the game in a special dog zone, Pre-Game Parade, Bark in the Park water bowl, and Bandana.
You have to reserve a place in advance and include all the documentation with the application.
Previous Bark at the Park events has included a parade of dogs done up like Tigers. Details of the 2021 event have not yet been published. Tickets are extremely limited, and there are some rules to follow if you want to take part, not just with your pets. If you want to bring a purse into the stadium it has to be a clear purse.
Dog Day at Houston Astros is an annual event Details have not yet been released but check back to this link regularly to find out more.
In 2020, Kansas City Royals held three Bark at the Park events. At each event, the dog owner received a gift and was seated at the lower level, left-field corner. Dogs have to meet certain requirements and be fully vaccinated. Owners also have to sign a waiver. Prebooked tickets are available for pick up 90 minutes before the game.
Details have not yet been released about the 2021 Bark at the Park event. Details of the event will be available at the link provided nearer the season start. Dogs have to be vaccinated, be over six months old, in good health, not aggressive, and is a Brewers fan. A waiver has to be signed and dogs are confined to the canine zone.
New York Mets
This event supports the North Shore Animal League. In 2021 dog owners can sit with other dog owners in the designated seats in the Coca-Cola corner. They are not allowed anywhere else. Arrive early at the Bullpen gate, with your tickets, to take part in the special dog parade. Each dog and human must have a Coca Cola corner ticket. There are three games in the Bark at the Park series:
1. April 12th Phillies
2. May 24th Rockies
3. September 2nd Marlins
Pittsburg is the most dog-friendly team in Major League Baseball, and have special Pup Nights. Details of 2021 are not yet available.
San Diego Padres
San Diego Padres are offering a special ten-game Flex Game membership and feature a total of five semi-private sections for up to four spectators and one pet.
Each elevated backyard inspired can accommodate 4 people, has a designated place for the dog to relieve themselves in a nearby location, Has its own designated entrance, Watering Station, Petco Brand Concierge. Dogs have to meet conditions and be vaccinated.
Bark at the Park in Seattle involves a walk around the bases, a designated Dog area, and water stations. There will also be a vet on hand. All tickets must be prebooked, no walk-ups, and there must be one adult per dog. As with other clubs, a waiver has to be signed and dogs must be vaccinated (certificates needed).
Purina Pooches in the Ballpark is an annual event where owners can bring their dogs to a pet-friendly zone in the stadium. Before the game dogs and owners are invited onto the pitch for a costume parade. All participants receive a Purina goodie-bag and a Paul Goldschmidt bobblehead. More information about the date of the game when announced from:
Pups in the Park is a special event held by Washington Nationals. Details of this year’s event are not yet available. Check back using the link later to see when the date of the game is:
Other teams in the Major League may also have events, and some minor league teams have also started to run these events as well. Obviously, 2021, with all the COVID restrictions is difficult for the teams and many have not yet announced the details o the Dog Events, or even if this year they will take place. By checking back on the links, I have provided you can keep up-to-date with the latest news on this.
Guidelines for Taking Your Dog to Major League Baseball Games
Many stadiums host special Bark in the Park events or Pups in the Park events. If you are considering taking your dog to one of these, then think carefully before you do. If you plan to take your dog to an MLB game then there are certain things to consider.
Your Dog’s Welfare
You may think it a great idea to take your dog to a baseball game, but how will your dog feel about it? The noise, the crowds, and possibly sitting in a very hot environment may not be your dog’s idea of a great trip out. Games can also get very noisy when the home team scores and some stadiums even let off fireworks.
It Could Get Hot
Stadiums that do run events where dogs are welcome, try to schedule them for cooler months. Try to take occasional walk rounds to distract your dog when things get hot and uncomfortable, ensure there is access to water, and ideally take a spray bottle.
You May Need to Take an Early Exit
Taking your dog may mean that you have to leave early if your dog is struggling. If you really want to be sure of seeing the whole game, think twice about taking your dog.
Should there be any “accidents” it is the dog owner who is responsible for cleaning up and should come prepared with suitable cleaning materials and bags.
What About the NFL?
NFL, unlike Major League Baseball, is not the friendliest environment for dogs and their owners. However, change is slowly taking place, and recently the first-ever NFL stadium with a dog park opened. The Jacksonville Jaguars whose mascot is a cat, now have a Pet Paradise Dog Park at the Stadium, so pets can play while their owners get to relax at the game. Owners can keep one eye on their dogs and another on the game while relaxing in the viewing area. For membership information check out this link:
So far, we have talked about spectators bringing their dogs to sports events. The San Francisco 49ers have gone at the question from the other end and have introduced the NFL’s first Emotional Support Dog. Players face a lot of mental stress and this progressive team has tackled this by introducing Zoe onto the payroll. Zoe, a French Bulldog Puppy, has been a huge success and one player who has been privately dealing with his sisters’ suicide has found the dog to be a great boon, saying, “Anytime I go in there and see her, it’s just really relaxing.”
Whatever sport the stadium offers, one group of dog owners are always allowed to enter with their dog.
People who need the assistance of Service Dogs are allowed to enter places where dogs (pets) are not otherwise allowed. In fact, under the American’s with Disabilities Act, it would be illegal to refuse them entry. Most State or City laws will require that the dog is on a leash or harness unless such a device would stop the dog from performing its duties. No state law requires the stadium to provide food or water facilities for service dogs, that would be the responsibility of the owner.
If it is judged that the Service Dog is in any way a threat to the safety of other patrons, then it is permitted to refuse access to the dog.
While Comfort or Emotional Support Dogs are sometimes referred to within the wider context of Service Dogs, there is no legal obligation to allow these dogs into the stadium.
We can see that Major League Baseball is far more dog friendly as a rule than the NFL. Most MLB teams have at the very least, special games where dogs are allowed. Some will just have an annual event, other more regular events. All of them have regulations that must be followed and rules about vaccinations. Most of them have insurance waivers that need to be signed as well. NFL has hardly addressed the issues of dogs attending games at all, although there is increasing awareness. The years 2020 and 2021 have been a very difficult time for these franchises and allowing humans to access the games has been enough of a challenge. Quite possibly after the pandemic is over there will be more thought given to this matter.