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Getting outside with your dog is one of life’s greatest joys. There is a whole world out there to explore no matter what breed, age, or size of your canine companion. Scout has put together a fun list of things to do outside with your dog and loved ones. Hiking, camping, bike riding, and a grabbing a nice afternoon lunch are our favorite all-season activities, while swimming is probably best saved for when the temperature inches past 80 degrees (Fahrenheit, of course). A portable water dish and protective footwear are must-haves no matter what shape your dog is in, but seniors, small dogs, or any dog with mobility issues might need a little extra gear. Small dogs of all ages can stow away pretty easily in a dog backpack, but big dogs who are a little long in tooth might require a little more creativity. For short trips around town, a simple support harness will probably suffice, while scenic bicycle trips along the river trail will require a dog trailer (a child-size bike trailer will also work in a pinch).
In fact, dogs of any activity level could benefit from some sort of carrier, since they tend to tire a lot more quickly than we humans anticipate. Unless you and your dog have been regularly training together, your dog doesn’t have the stamina to hike quite as far as you do, even in their prime. Make sure you pay very close attention to signs of exhaustion, and don’t plan for more than 30 minutes of continuous exertion without taking a break.
7 Outdoor Activities for You and Your Dog
1. Take A Hike
Hiking is a great way to get the whole family outside. All types of dogs can enjoy going on hikes but active breeds and bigger dogs seem to like it the most and play a lot along the trail. Smaller dogs can get tired more quickly or may not be able to negotiate some terrain so well. Older dogs and puppies also have their limits. Luckily, there are a lot of hikes you can go on so it shouldn’t be too hard to find a great trail that is suitable for your dog. Even if you’re a seasoned hiker, stick to beginner trails only with your dog (on most park maps, these trails are marked in green).
Most dogs love having a job to do, especially the working breeds, and that’s where doggy daypacks come in handy. Not only does the weight sometimes make dogs feel more secure, but the slight extra weight is a great way to burn off the extra energy in high-stamina pups. We like the Outward Hound medium-sized daypack, which can accommodate a water bottle and a collapsible dish or can be left empty.
Daypak Dog Backpack Hiking Gear For Dogs by Outward Hound, Medium, Blue
2. Go on a Picnic
Yes, it is totally acceptable to go on a picnic with your dog! Take along a delicious lunch and treats for them to enjoy as well. Now is the time to cook or make your dog’s meal. Just make sure to only use dog-friendly ingredients or buy products made just for dogs. A lot of grocery stores have refrigerated dog foods that come in something like a giant bologna roll. Instant pâté for your pooch!
If you plan on feeding them picnic scraps, make sure the people food you pack can be ingested by dogs too. This is particularly important if your picnicking in a spot frequented by people and their pets, since dogs are nothing if not determined foragers.
Going on an overnight or longer camping trip can be a lot of fun. Some dogs even enjoy going out in canoes and camping in more remote areas. For your first trip, you may want to go somewhere closer to amenities such as a State Park or National Forest Campground, but if you want to get away from it all then pack up and hit the trail for a more remote location. Before you go, make sure you’ve familiarized yourself with the campground’s dog policy. Some campgrounds may have an outright ban on dogs, while others may have specific breed or leash requirements.
Camping with dogs is a lot of fun but there are some things you need to be aware of like the presence of wildlife or the dangers of your dog getting off-leash and wandering too far. It is best to keep your dog on a leash or if they are well trained and no one is around you may be able to get away with offering them some freedom. Young puppies and dogs that like to roam need to have special care taken to make sure they don’t wander off.
Camping in the backcountry with abundant wildlife can pose hazards if your dog tries to defend against a bear in camp or if they run off to find what smells so great. Smaller dogs are more vulnerable so think it through before you take your Chihuahua on a major camping trip in a very remote place. If you are RV camping this changes the situation entirely because dogs have the protection of a house on wheels (you’ll still need to make sure the RV park is dog-friendly though).
4. A Walk in the Dog Park
If you live in an area with a dog park then this is an excellent, low-maintenance activity for you to do with your dog or dogs. Just remember to not take more dogs than you can handle with all the excitement. Dog parks are good places to meet other dog parents and provides an amazing way to socialize your dog from an early age. Dog parks provide a good environment for your dog to play with other dogs. You need to make sure that your dog has all their vaccinations up to date, and introduce them to other dogs and people gradually to gauge their reaction as well as that of other dogs. When dog parents work together and train their dogs to be social, a dog park can be a really fun way to spend your time.
A lot of dogs love to swim, especially in the summer months when it is hot and not as comfortable on them. Longer haired dogs and those with thick double coats can really look forward to a cooling dip. Dogs can tolerate chlorinated water just fine but it they are in it a lot it can do similar things to their hair as it does to people. A light colored dog may have a green tinge to it or a very sensitive skinned dog could possibly have a reaction (but it is very unlikely). If your dog swallows or drinks some chlorinated water it is not a reason to be overly concerned. Of course, finding a pool that says it is okay for a dog to be in is the major challenge. Rivers, streams, and swimming holes are all acceptable. Even older senior dogs can enjoy swimming in a calm place since it is such low-impact exercise.
If you don’t have access to a backyard pool, dog beach, or lake, look around your area for a dog-specific water park (yes, they are a thing). They generally have the same rules as doggy daycare, so make sure your pet is up to date on all their shots and socializes well with other dogs.
6. Go out to Lunch or Dinner
There are a lot of restaurants that have outdoor dining areas where they are more than happy to have you and your well-behaved, leashed dog. Breweries and brewpubs are other spaces that are very dog-friendly. If you cannot find a policy on dogs on a restaurant’s website or Facebook page, then it never hurts to ask. Increasingly more and more places are using how much they welcome dogs as a marketing tool so you may not have to look far to find the rules. A plain old Google search should turn up plenty of options in your area, as will Yelp. It can help to make sure your dog is not too hungry when you go out. A light snack beforehand means they are not as likely to get too excited over the food everyone else is eating around them.
A lot of people take their dogs out on bicycle rides either on or off road. It is best to do this where traffic is not a problem. There are things you can get to attach your dog to your bicycle. Urban bicycle paths and trails are best. It is just too hard to cycle safely in much traffic with a dog so be smart about it. Also, keep in mind that your dog has to be able to keep up with you so go at a pace that doesn’t make them miserable and make sure to stop for rest and water very often. Going too far too fast with even the most active dogs can lead to heat exhaustion or worse. Of course, cycling with a very small dog is not practical or advised. They just cannot keep up and they can get hurt easily. This is why you see little dogs riding on the cycle with their owners rather than running beside the cycle. There is no reason you can’t take your little dog, just don’t let them try to run beside like a big dog.
Cycling Solutions for Tired Dogs
Even if your dog is able to keep up a nice trot beside your bike, that pace isn’t sustainable for longer trips. Even short trips might be out of the question for senior or smaller dogs, but that they can’t get out and enjoy the great outdoors with you. Bicycles can have wagons that are covered hitched to them. You see people doing this with kids all the time. For smaller dogs, there are carriers that attach or backpacks that make getting out and doing things with your dog easy and fun regardless of any limitations.
For Small Dogs: Cozy Cabin Dog Carrier Pack
CozyCabin Latest Style Comfortable Dog Cat Pet Carrier Backpack Travel Carrier Bag Front for Small dogs Puppy Carrier Bike Hiking Outdoor (L, Black)
This comfortable, padded pack provides a soft and comfortable ride for a small dog weighing up to 15lbs. Just be careful in the summer that they don’t get too hot riding in something close to you like a pack.
For Medium Dogs: DoggyRide Bike Trailer
DoggyRide Bike Trailer for Dogs, Mini, Dutch Orange/Grey
This bike trailer allows you to safely cycle with dogs who are just a little too big for a backpack. This trailer is rated to support dogs up to 55 lbs, but if your dog is heavier or just taller, check out DoggyRide’s larger trailers as well. There is a holder for a water bottle and the mesh keeps out bugs. A drop down curtain provides extra shade when needed.
For Large Dogs: Solvit HoundAbout Bike Trailer
Solvit HoundAbout II Pet Bicycle Trailer, Aluminum Frame, Large
Up until a certain weight, a dog trailer is a dog trailer – not much really separates them. If your dog clocks in at 70lbs+ though, you’ll want to start paying attention to construction materials. The Solvit trailer is rated for dogs up to 110lbs and made out of lightweight aluminum – which is something you’ll appreciate for longer trips.
Paw Safety: The 5-Second Test
While a dog has some pretty tough paws generally, pavement, gravel, etc. can get really hot and make paws hurt. In general, you should perform the 5-second test before taking your dog outside. If you can’t hold the back of your hand against the pavement for longer than 5 seconds, it’s too hot to walk your dog. For this reason, a pair of breathable uninsulated dog boots may be worth getting. Just make sure you measure your dog so shoes are sized right. In the winter time, you might want to opt for warmer shoes that prevent cold and frostbite. Considering your dog’s paws means you will both have a better time and be able to cover more ground when you want to.
Essential Gear For Outdoor Activity
It is important to not forget that your dog has needs too when away from home. Here are some suggestions Scout has for outfitting your dog for a life of adventure.
Again it is essential that footwear fit well. Measure twice or go to a pet store. It is best to let a dog get used to footwear before going on an extended trip or anything like that. If it is uncomfortable or not a good fit then it is best to find that out so you can change it and not have a major impact on a great trip you have planned with your dog! Here are a few affordable options for dog footwear.
Hipaw Summer Breathable Mesh Reflective Strap Rugged Nonslip Sole Dog Boots
These breathable mesh boots are perfect for keeping hot pavement and other surfaces from getting the best of your dog. The rubber soles provide non-slip grip protection while making hot pavement comfortable for your dog. Sturdy straps ensure that these boots stay on no matter where the road takes you and your pooch.
RuffWear – Polar Trex Winter Traction and Insulation Paw Wear for Dogs, Forest Green, 2.25″ (Set of 4)
These are the ultimate winter dog boot for those in snowy and cold places or that just like to hit the mountainside with their dog. While $100 might seem like a lot to pay for dog boots keep in mind that these are made with tough thick soles, insulated, and waterproofed for your dog’s comfort. If you plan on being out in the colder weather a lot with your dog, this is the boot for them.
If you bring nothing else – no backpack, no paw salve, no food, no sunscreen, nothing – you must at least remember a water bowl. We prefer the collapsible variety because they fold easily into small pockets, but a water bowl with an attached bottle is a handy bit of kit to keep in your car just in case.
Port a Bowl Collapsible Hiking and Travel Folding Food and Water Bowl for Dogs by Outward Hound, Large
Outward Hound is a well-known company that makes a variety of outdoor gear for dogs. This is a popular water or feed dish because it is very easy to clean and it folds flat so you can stick it in a pack with ease.
Mr. Peanut’s Extra Large 34oz, 7″ Diameter, 2 Pak Collapsible Dog Bowls for Large & Med Dogs, Dishwasher Safe BPA FREE Food Grade Silicone, Portable Foldable Travel Bowls for Journeys & Hikes (2 Pak)
These bowls are made of BPA-free silicone and have a handy carabiner so you can attach bowls to a pack or even your belt. You get two bowls for this price and the size is big enough for larger dogs.
A light snack or bite size treats are handy to have when you need to get your dogs attention or reward them for good behavior. Go for treats you can break apart easy or that are smaller. If you have a big breed dog, pack the small size dog biscuits.
Medications As Needed
For short adventures, medications may not be necessary but if your dog is being treated for a condition and needs regular medicines you should keep some handy.
Favorite Leash and One Extra Leash In Your Car
If a leash breaks while you are out and about then it can help to have another one on hand just in case. Since so many places have leash laws this can be pretty important if you want to continue with an adventure.
Optional: Toy or Chew for the Car Ride or Downtime on the Trail
Especially when you are just getting your dog used to going out on adventures having a favorite toy or something to occupy their interest at times can be nice to have. If what you are going to do requires a significantly long ride in a vehicle, a toy or chew can make the whole trip less stressful, especially if you have a very active or “busy” dog.
Making the Most out of Your Adventure
In today’s world, it can be hard to find the time to do everything we would like. Spending time with your dog is important and it can help you and those in your household lead a more enjoyable and fulfilled life. We are lucky to live in a society that is increasingly dog-friendly so there are far more options of things we can do and places we can take our canine companions. Just remember to acquaint yourself with the dog policy of every trail, park, or swimming hole before you go, and observe all leash laws. Keep in mind that even a pup in the prime of their life is not going to possess your endurance or stamina, so make sure you pick beginner-level trails and plan for no more than 30 minutes of interrupted, strenuous activity at a time. Once the weather heats up, make sure you’re also paying attention to the heat of the ground. If you can’t hold the back of your hand against the ground for longer than five seconds, it’s too hot for your pooch’s paws.
No matter what activity you choose, be it hiking, biking, or swimming, the single most important thing to remember is to pack enough water. Collapsible water bowls fit nicely into small spaces, and an extra hydration bladder can be easily added to your daypack. You can never have too many water breaks, especially now that summer’s here.
Now all that’s left is to have fun! Tell us, what adventures are on your list?
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