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Dog-Friendly Events Put the Woof in Wisconsin

By Jeniece Smith
Managing Editor

We welcome dogs and their humans alike in Wisconsin, and our state’s lively festival scene offers pet-friendly opportunities aplenty. Here are a few of our favorites.

Bring Your Dog

Most of these events allow sociable, leashed dogs, but be sure to call ahead beforehand.

Door County Scottie Rally, Baileys Harbor – May

This one’s for dogs with “scotitude” – nearly 200 Scottish Terriers and their owners will celebrate the breed with kilt-wearing bagpipers and a parade.

Other breed-specific rallies include the Boxer Bash in Columbus and the Airedale enthusiast’s Fall Aire Frolic in Ixonia, both held by rescue groups in September.

German Fest, Milwaukee – July

Though this giant Milwaukee fest only allows service dogs in general admission, owners are welcome to register their dogs in the Dachshund Derby and Wiener Dog Costume Contest.

Following a blessing of the dachshunds, six age categories (from “Lil’ Smokies” to “Braunschweigers”) will race for the title of “Champion of the Dachshund Nation.” Afterwards, audience applause and a celebrity judge will determine the winner of the wacky costume contest.

Dogtoberfest, Middleton – September

The Dane County Humane Society partners with Capital Brewery to host an afternoon of music, food and brews in the bier garten. Dogs on leashes that don’t flex are welcome, but must be up-to-date on vaccinations and crowd-friendly.

In nearby Cambridge, Barktoberfest supports a different rescue group every September with a pet costume contest, lure coursing, dog sport demos, food and a “yappy hour.”

Fromm Petfest, Milwaukee – September

Bring the kids and family dog for a day of pet-focused fun with thousands of other people and pups, including dock diving, agility and lure courses, pet adoptions and shopping vendors.

New this year, sip a brew while your dog romps around a fenced playground at the Petfest Bier Garden and Dog Park. Or, get some advice at the interactive Petfest University, which offers demonstrations from experts ranging from veterinarians to nutritionists.

Diggity Dog Dip, Onalaska – September

Send summer out with a splash by bringing our pooch to the Onalaska Aquatic Center. The pool gradually increases in depth, making it perfect for four-legged swimmers, while puppies and small breeds will have their own kiddie pools.

Proceeds from a small admission fee benefit rescue groups and development of a dog exercise area adjacent to the pool.

Watch Some Dogs

Here are a handful of happenings for human spectators, though non-participating dogs are welcome in some cases.

All Breed Dog Show, Obedience and Rally Trial, Fond du Lac – April

Also see the summer and fall dog agility trials, which are open to spectators.

Waukesha Kennel Club Dog Show, Waukesha – July

See back-to-back all-breed dog shows, along with obedience and rally trials over three days.

Hudson Working Stockdog Trials, Hudson September

Border collies will wow you as they herd sheep around obstacles and into pens in this competition set along hillside pastures.

Can’t Depend on Snow, Fond du Lac – December

Your own tail-wagger is welcome to take a picture with Santa at this event, which will include sled dog rides, races and weight pulls, along with animal massage therapy and even a celebrity human sled race.


Considering an event? Plan your trip around these dog-friendly breweries in southern Wisconsin!

This entry was posted in Fairs & Festivals