Grilling is going to the dogs. According to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, 81% of Americans own a grill and average grill usage is up to 26 times per year. And, with three-quarters of dog owners saying they consider their dog as a member of the family, more and more owners are including their four-legged friends in the barbecue fun.

According to grilling guru Kent Whitaker, author of Smoke in the Mountains Cookbook: The Art of Appalachian Barbecue, “Grilling is a family affair and today our dogs are like part of the family. My dog Moses is my grilling assistant who keeps it fun and entertaining, while we all enjoy the real meat aromas on the grill.”

Whitaker, a past winner of the Emeril Live Food Network Barbecue Contest, and Moses have teamed up with ALPO brand dog food to teach dog lovers how to include their four-legged friends in the backyard barbecue fun. They are offering grilling demonstrations and the following tips at ALPO “Beefstro” events throughout the country.

Great Smells Mean

Great Flavor

Use marinades, rubs, sauces and different woods to add extra flavor to your barbecue favorites. While you’re manning the grill, have another family member keep your dog entertained with the savory smells from his favorite dog treat. Hold the treat in front of his nose and ask him to perform a simple trick, such as sit or stay for a food reward.

Relax With Fun and Games

While the food is cooking, play fun games the whole family can enjoy, including tag, hide ‘n go seek and fetch. Make sure you have balls, flying discs and chew toys to help your dog work up a healthy appetite.

Include A Place Setting

Create a theme for your barbecue and make sure all of the decorations and table settings match. And, when it’s time to sit down and enjoy the feast, don’t forget to set a place setting for your four-legged family member. Put a placemat and bowl on the ground by your table and serve your dog a hearty, healthy meal of ALPO Chop House Originals brand dog food with the real meat taste he craves.

Live A Little

Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things at your next family barbecue. Try new sauces, appetizing dips, slices of bread and side dishes such as Tex-Mex Tater Salad and Fire Baked Beans. And, to give your dog even more excitement at mealtime, feed him different forms and flavors of his favorite food.

Leave the Clean Up for Later

Family affairs such as backyard barbecues are special times to be savored. So take advantage of having the whole family together and leave the dishes for later. Serve a grand finale dessert while sharing favorite family stories and end the festivities by taking an evening stroll with your canine companion.