How to Include Your Dog on Awesome Outdoor Adventures
Author Alyssa L. Ochs
While you’re out trekking, paddling, pedaling, and soaking up the pure bliss of nature, someone you love is sitting at home missing you. Isn’t it a shame that your furry four-legged friend has to stay home and miss out on all the fun?
After adopting a dog, many new pet parents either transform into boring homebodies or make a habit of leaving their pup home alone or with a sitter. Well, I’m here to tell you there’s a better way. Let your pup tag along with you!
Hiking I like to think of hiking as the “gateway activity” to get in the spirit of taking adventures with your dog. It requires minimal training or gear, and you can do it pretty much anywhere. Start with short hikes to see how your dog does and build up gradually from there, taking his age, weight, and any medical conditions into consideration. To avoid on-trail drama, pick a park that’s dog-friendly and a surface that’s easy on the paw pads.
Trail Running A lot of the rules of hiking with your dog apply to trail running with your dog too. Make sure that your dog is comfortable hiking before breaking into a jog. You’ll both need to pay extra special attention to tree roots, fallen branches, and rocks as you pick up the pace. Although they might be a challenge to get on at first, invest in some doggie hiking boots to protect those paws.
Biking Okay, so maybe you can’t teach your dog how to pedal a bike, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t come along for the ride! There are a couple different ways to approach this: a cycle-friendly leash or a pull-behind cart. Young, energetic dogs who love to run will get a kick out of trotting alongside your bike. Meanwhile, older and smaller dogs will be safer and more comfortable riding in a comfy trailer.
Kayaking & Canoeing Who says your dog needs to stay on land at all times? Some dogs love water and others hate it, so see how yours does and go from there. It’s incredibly important that your dog responds well to commands, because poor training could mean a serious safety hazard on the water. Start with practicing getting in and out of the boat, and always put your dog in a life jacket, even if he knows how to swim.
Stand-up Paddleboarding Another great water sport that you can train your dog to do is stand-up paddleboarding. You’ll definitely need some practice with this one to find your center of gravity, so start on a lake with calm water instead of a river with currents or the ocean with waves. Again, a life jacket will provide you with a whole lot of peace of mind, especially if you’re a beginner boarder yourself.
Rock Climbing Now I can’t advocate challenging your dog to race you up that 5.11 route, but it’s entirely possible to take your dog on rock climbing trips. Going rock climbing with your dog is essentially a hiking trip for your furry friend. This outdoor adventure works best if you have a few people in your crew so that someone can stay with your dog while others are busy climbing and belaying. For your dog’s safety and to avoid distracting other climbers, tie your dog’s leash to a nearby tree and provide him with plenty of water while he hangs out and watches you.
Not only are these challenging outdoor activities great exercise for you and your dog, they’re also a perfect way to bond and learn valuable skills on the leash and about life. Bringing a dog along on your adventures might seem like a hassle at first, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll never want to leave your pup behind again. Here’s an outdoorsy dog gear checklist that I keep handy for spontaneous trips in the great outdoors.
- Collar, leash, and ID tag
- Doggie backpack
- Doggie life vest
- Doggie hiking boots
- Water and water bowl
- Food, treats, and a bone
- Jug of water
- Dog-safe insect repellant
- Towel or sheet for the car seat
- Paper towels
- Dog brush
- Lots of poop bags
- LED light or flashlight
- First aid kit
- Vet contact info
- Plenty of patience!
- Alyssa is an outdoor enthusiast, writer, and dog sitter based in Atlanta