Category: Dog Activities

The New Bar K Dog Bar Brings Joyful Community to Riverfront Park

The new Bar K Dog Bar remains, first and foremost, a joyful and welcoming space. The community-building formula perfected in the Bar K Lab (pets, people, play, potables, and a touch of special Bar K magic) has not been lost in the translation.  Yes, we’re gushing.

The Bar K retains its industrial roots in the container construction and in the use of found space under the Heart of America Bridge.  Look around you, and you’ll find traces of the much-loved warehouse space in the West Bottoms that was the Bar K Lab.  Adirondack chairs still provide a pop of Bar K blue and orange and make comfortable places for intimate conversation in the open play area.  The made in Kansas City Ricochet game table has a new home on the upstairs patio.  Inside, a container door is repurposed as a sliding barn-style door.

But owners David Hensley and Leib Dodell, together with the architects at Clockwork +Design have moved far beyond the limits of industrial warehouse space to create a community gathering place with a modern vibe that pulls together the best elements of downtown Kansas City, from the Rivermarket to the Crossroads.  The team has somehow managed to create the perfect mix of posh and homey.  The blend balances without culture clash the trendy and upscale, yet down home and friendly spirit of this upwardly mobile midwestern city.

new bar k dog bar, rainbow, bar k dog bar, bar k, beer garden
What’s at the end of the rainbow? The Bar K, of course.

The team has considered the comfort and needs of both humans and dogs equally in their design.  Playful canine-themed works by local artists grace the front of the building and create a welcoming atmosphere throughout the facility.  Inside, there are humans-only social spaces, including a coffee bar, full bar, restaurant, lounge, and conference center.  Outside, and on the patios, humans and dogs mingle.

new bar k dog bar, bar k dog bar, beer garden, bar k, dog, dogs
The beer garden builds community at the Bar K. Photo courtesy Jason Doss.

The architects designed a park that is landscaped for function and beauty.  The team incorporated different types of surfaces to provide visual interest, and also textural interest for the dogs.  Turf, sand, gravel, and wood chips provide places for dogs to run, dig, and play.  A meandering walkway leads through small groves of native trees in the shade of the bridge.  Large boulders and wide concrete steps provide ampitheather-style seating with a view of the park.

Play features for dogs only include a large jungle gym, a climbing area, and a splash pool, complete with doggy cabanas.  There are separate spaces for puppies and small dogs. Humans may choose to linger on the patios,  at the outdoor bar, in the beer garden, or indoors.  Or they may play one of a number of human-sized lawn games.

As always,  dog play is well supervised by Bar K staff.  There are water stations and misters at several locations in the park, and staff keep the water bowls clean.  Recycled containers at both ends of the park serve as shelters for warming or shade.

Ultimately, the new Bar K Dog Bar will be a true community center for Kansas City dogs and their families.  The team plans to host a variety of live events on their outdoor stage, including live music, educational events, and more.  For now, patrons and their pooches can enjoy live music in the evenings. In true Bar K fashion, dogs are part of the entertainment, and you will occasionally find them upstaging the performers.

new bar k dog bar, bar k dog bar, bar k, dog, dogs, stage
As always, the dogs are part of the entertainment at Bar K.

If you played at the Bar K Lab, you will recognize many familiar faces among the staff at the new Bar K, along with many new friends.  “Must love dogs” is a condition of hire, and it shows.  It’s a place where everyone knows your dog’s name.  Come in a few times, and everyone will know your name, too.  That’s the magic of the Bar K:  everyone is truly special here.



Is Your Dog Done with Summer? Spice Things Up at a Dog Swim Party

At the end of a long, hot summer, a dog swim party may be just the thing to bring back the joy of life to your dog.  We have had a brief break from dangerous summer heat in Kansas City this week, but hot summer weather is sure to return.  Our dogs are bored with early morning and late evening walks, and they’re ready for some serious day time play time.  Lucky for them, dog swim party season is just around the corner.

Dog swim parties are a growing trend

A growing number of municipalities across the US are opening public pools to canine guests after the last human swimmers have toweled off and flip-flopped out of the park.  And why not?  Thousands of gallons of water will go straight down the drain at the end of the season.  This water can be used one final time for family fun when the pool is opened to dogs.  Cities use the proceeds  to fund dog park improvements, rescue organizations, and more.

dog swim party, dog pool, kiddie pool, water slides, frisbee
Friends with a frisbee.

Dog swim party basics

  1. Bring a friend.  There’s something about water that brings dog joy bubbling to the surface.  You will want to share the experience.  If you don’t have a dog, you may want to go just to watch.  Dog swim parties are that good.
  2. Stay out of the water.  Most public pools that host a dog party ask humans to stay out of the pool.  The hosts permit wading up to the knees but discourage swimming with the dogs.  These parties are popular and the pool will be quite crowded with rowdy dogs.   Parks host these parties after the regular season.  Park staff do not test and re-treat the water to appropriate levels for human swimmers.  For this reason, disease-causing agents may not be eliminated from the water.
  3. Pay careful attention on the pool decks. Dogs don’t know that the pool area isn’t a dog park.  They will run wild on the pool decks.  Slippery surfaces plus running dogs make a dangerous situation.  Always watch out for the dogs, because they won’t always watch out for you.  Consider leaving small children at home.
  4. Keep your belongings on tables.  At one pool party last year, we saw dogs urinate on at least three different backpacks.
  5. Practice good swim safety with your dog. Watch your dog at all times. In a large pool filled with dogs, you may find it difficult to keep track of your dog’s location.  Dogs may not be able to exit the pool in deeper areas.  Be especially vigilant if your dog is swimming in water over her head.  Like small children, dogs can panic in the water, and they may not alert you to their distress.  Use a life vest if your dog is not a strong swimmer.
dog swim party, dipping dogs, life vest, life jacket, labrador retriever, dog swim, pool
Use a life vest if your dog is not a strong swimmer.

Where to find a dog swim party

Contact your local parks and recreation to find a dog swim party near you.  These events are upcoming in the Kansas City Metro area:

Tails on the Trails Pet Festival and Dog Swim, Lenexa

Dippin Dog Swim Party at the Springs

Dippin Dog Swim Party at the Bay

Puppy Exercise: Keep Them Busy, But Don’t Overdo It.

Puppies are little (and not so little) balls of energy wrapped up in excitement.  What are the best ways to keep them active and out of trouble?  How much puppy exercise is appropriate?  Are some types of exercise better than others?  You have questions, and we have some answers.

What is a good puppy exercise?

A good puppy exercise is usually short (think 10 minutes for younger pups to 20 minutes at four months of age).  Puppies over four months may be able to exercise for longer periods of time if their breed allows.  The key is to keep the exercise session short enough to match their attention span.  Young puppies don’t have much endurance yet, because their bodies are immature.

A good puppy exercise is not overly strenuous.  Use low-impact activities.  Running is generally ok in short bursts, but endurance training should be left until your puppy is mature.  Jumping and prolonged running can injure growth plates, and dogs are not generally trained for jumping sports until they are mature.  Large and giant breeds mature more slowly, so be sure to ask your veterinarian when is the appropriate time to begin high-impact sports.  Many sport clubs will start training dogs at two years of age.

The AKC has good information on age-appropriate exercise for puppies.

A good puppy exercise is fun.  Puppies will do anything as long as it is fun!

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Some play ideas to get you started

  1. Play hide and seek.  Hide treats around the house, or hide yourself and encourage your puppy to find you.
  2. Go swimming:  Water play is low impact and dogs love it.  Until your puppy can swim strongly, use a dog swim vest for safety.
  3. Play with puzzles.  Dog treat puzzles keep your puppy’s mind active and help her learn good problem solving skills.  Some treat puzzles encourage movement as well.  Your puppy might not retrieve yet, but she will probably enjoy chasing anything you feel like throwing.
  4. Learn tricks and skills.  You can teach an old dog new tricks, but young dogs learn faster.  Your puppy is soaking up knowledge at an incredible rate.  Now is the time to teach him obedience and party tricks.  Work on the recall frequently throughout the day.  Move around the house and call your puppy to you frequently.  Practice leash skills on walks.
  5. Socialize.  Dog parks and doggie day care are great places to socialize your puppy.  He’ll get a lot of exercise while he’s there, too.  Use common sense and keep your puppy out of park areas where reactive or overly boisterous and physical older dogs are playing. Some facilities offer sessions for puppies only.  For example, Bar K Dog Bar in Kansas City has a weekly puppy socialization play date on Wednesday evenings.  Puppy classes with your local pet store or trainer are great places to socialize, train, and exercise your puppy.

Join the Fit2BPawsome challenge to stay motivated.  The challenge is designed to be appropriate for all breeds and life stages.

A busy puppy is a happy puppy.  Keeping her busy with safe and healthy exercise will help her grow into a strong and confident dog.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Bar K Dog Bar is a sponsor of the Fit2BPawsome Challenge

Hey, Does My Dog Look Fat to You?

Most people don’t think their dogs are overweight.  But according to veterinarians, 54% of dogs are overweight or obese.  It’s hard to be objective about your best friend’s waistline.  The good news is that you don’t have to ask a friend, “Does my dog look fat to you?”  There are better ways to know if your dog needs to slim down.

Ask your veterinarian

The best way to determine whether or not your dog needs to lose weight is to ask your veterinarian.  She has trained for years for just this moment, is an objective observer, and has your dog’s very best interests at heart.

Sadly, even though pet parents and veterinarians recognize that obesity is a major health problem, the topic is often not adequately discussed at veterinary visits.  Take the first step and drive this discussion with your veterinarian.  Ask him to show you how to assess your dog’s body condition, and initiate a discussion about how much food you should give your dog.

Track your dog’s weight

Weight gain happens gradually in dogs, just as it does in people.  It can be hard to see it until it becomes a problem.  The scale is your dog’s friend.  If your dog is small enough, weigh her periodically at home.  You may step on the scale with your dog, then without your dog, and subtract to get her weight.  If you have a larger dog, make sure you keep track of your dog’s weight at regular veterinary visits.

A fitness tracker like Babel Bark may help you keep an eye on trends over time.  You can share your dog’s information with your veterinarian directly through the app, or provide it at your next visit.

Gradual weight gain will alert you that you need to make changes in diet and exercise.  Gradual weight loss without an increase in the amount you are feeding may alert you to underlying health problems.

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Learn a simple rule of thumb

It can be difficult to know whether your dog is overweight just by looking.  The major problem is that longer or fluffier coats may camouflage early weight gain.  A heavy coat may also make your dog look overweight, when he is actually in great shape.

There are different types of evaluation scale to help you determine your dog’s body condition.  My favorite rule of thumb for assessing body condition is the hand test.  The following video will walk you through this method. Remember to consult your veterinarian before making any changes to your dog’s diet or exercise regimen.  For more information and more ways to assess your dog’s body condition, check out the blog at PetMD.

Video transcript

In this video, I’ll demonstrate a quick and easy way to estimate your dog’s body condition.  You just need your dog and your hand!

Rub your hand over the top of the ribs in the middle of the body.

Compare to rubbing your own hand.  If your dog’s ribs under the skin feel similar to your bones under the skin on the top of your hand, your dog is probably at a good condition.  If the ribs feel like your knuckles, your dog is too thin. This challenge isn’t for you; talk to your veterinarian to make sure your dog is getting enough food and is healthy.  If the ribs feel like your palm your dog is probably overweight, and if the ribs feel like the ball of your thumb, your dog is almost certainly overweight.

Get active

Whether your dog is in tip-top shape or could stand to lose a couple of pounds, now is the time to get active.

*Babel Bark is a sponsor of the Fit2BPawsome Challenge.

Disclaimer: The above video and the Fit2BPawsome Challenge are intended for entertainment purposes only, and not for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or disease.  Always consult your veterinarian before beginning any diet or exercise program with your pet.

Get Started with the Fit2BPawsome Dog Fitness Challenge

It’s week 1 of the Fit2BPawsome dog fitness challenge.  Here’s all you need to know to get started on this free, 6 week adventure with your dog!  You’ll get support, tips, discounts, and a chance to win great prizes from our sponsors! Join at any time.  The fun starts now!

How the Fit2BPawsome dog fitness challenge works

  1. Sign up.  Use the form on this page to sign up for the challenge.  We won’t spam you, and you can unsubscribe from our list at any time.
  2. Join our Facebook group Fit2BPawsome.  We want to see photos of your dog being active.  Post progress and share concerns.  Share the challenge with your friends to help raise awareness of canine obesity.  Use the hashtag #fit2BPawsome on social media.
  3. Take advantage of discounts from our sponsors.  If you can’t get out with your dog, consider a play day at Dog Pawz or Camp Bow Wow Liberty.  Track your dog’s activity with a discounted activity monitor from Babel Bark.
  4. Check back in.  We’ll post tips for success throughout the challenge on the blog and on Facebook.
  5. Win prizes.  One prize will be selected at random from all registered participants.  And the winner of the Grand Prize package will be chosen on social media. So get engaged.  The more you post and share, the better your chances to win the big one!
  6. Get moving!  Use the free dog and human workout suggestions provided by Flexy Body Babes to get started.

Did I mention prizes?

Prizes include gift baskets from Tail Waggin Pet Stop and Four Leg Stretch, a day care, boarding, and grooming package from Dog Pawz, and a day care and grooming package from Camp Bow Wow Liberty.

Getting started

Remember to start with small steps.  Like humans, dogs need time to get in shape.  Make a commitment to increase your dog’s daily exercise time by a small amount each week.  You will meet the objective of this challenge if your dog is spending more time moving at the end than she is now.


The easiest way to get going is to get out for a walk.  The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention has a walking workout plan to help you get the most out of each walk with your dog.  The plan starts with shorter times and increases incrementally.  Don’t be fooled.  Just walking your dog may not be enough.  Your dog may not naturally walk at a pace that is brisk enough.

Monitor your mileage and keep a log.  You’ll be able to chart your progress over time.


We realize that not all pet parents are able to get out for a walk.  You may need to get creative.  For small dogs, motivation to move can be as simple as hunting for hidden treats around the house.

Dog parks and doggie daycare are excellent places for your dog to get moving when you can’t make a long walk.  Track the time your dog spends moving, or use an activity monitor to chart progress.

Be Safe during this dog fitness challenge

Always consult your veterinarian before you begin any diet or exercise program with your pet.  Some breeds, especially short-nosed breeds such as bulldogs, are not suited for certain types of vigorous exercise.

This challenge is for entertainment purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease.

Join Our Free Fit2BPawsome Challenge

Join our free 6-week fitness challenge and get your dog moving! We'll provide the tips and support. All participants are eligible for fantastic prizes and discounts from our sponsors. This is going to be Pawsome!

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