Just like you, your dog needs and deserves to get out of the house and sniff out new places. A day trip could be just the thing to satisfy you and your dog’s desire for adventure.
“Your best travel partner can be your dog,” says Dawn Celapino, founder of Leash Your Fitness, a San Diego-based company that hosts workout classes, day trips and overnight camping outings for people and their adventure-loving dogs. She advocates day hikes, paddle boarding and even yoga with your canine pal.
The goal of taking a day trip with your dog is to share a stress-free adventure together. In my household, we have three dogs ranging in age from 4 to 17 and weighing between 12 to 85 pounds. The younger two, Kona and Bujeau, love to walk and run. The oldest, Cleo, a miniature Poodle-Bichon mix, doesn’t want to be left out, so she happily rides in a pet stroller when we take Bujeau and Kona on long walks or day trips.
Aim for an easy, can-do local destination no more than about an hour away. And before you and your dog bound out the front door, do a candid assessment.
- Will your dog walk properly on a leash?
- Will he listen to your cues to sit or stay?
- Is he friendly around people and other dogs?
After answering these questions, you can best determine which one of these day trips is right for you and your dog.
Head to the Beach
A trip to the dog beach is sure to be a day full of fun and adventure. If you don’t live near a dog beach, some local beaches permit dogs to romp leash-free in the off-season, especially during the fall and winter months. Be sure to check with your local municipalities on the dates when it is open to dogs and to find out if you need a pet permit in advance.
In the heart of Dallas, for example, dogs and their pet parents can spend the day at White Rock Lake Park, which features enclosed dog parks (one for small dogs and one for large dogs), plus access to a dedicated shoreline for water-loving canines to swim and play fetch.
“White Rock offers an expansive loop trail for people and their leashed dogs to enjoy the fresh air while exercising together,” says Shana Gates, area manager for the Dallas Park and Recreation Department. “It is a favorite place for dog lovers.”
Before planning your beach activity, factor in the weather. When the weather turns chilly, stick with long romps on the sand. When the weather is warm, engage your swim-happy dog in fetching tossed tennis balls in the surf.
Get a full list of supplies to pack for a trip to the beach with your dog.
Have a Doggy Date at a Drive-In Theater
Turn your day trip into an evening outing filled with nostalgia by bringing your canine companion with you to a drive-in movie theater to catch your favorite flick under the stars. Ideally, look for one that is showing a comedy or a dog flick for noise-sensitive pups.
Depending on your vehicle you can push the front seats back or you can share the back seat together. Add some extra comfort for your canine pal by packing an orthopedic bed, especially if he is old or has joint issues. Check out the FurHaven comfy couch or K&H Pet Products’ orthopedic lounger for two options.
Get in Touch with Nature and Go on a Hike
Get a great workout by spending the day hiking a dog-allowed trail. Celapino says strong, large breeds can even help you shoulder some of the load of the hiking gear by wearing canine packs, such as the Outward Hound DayPak.
Be sure to pack a dog leash with a length that meets the trail rules. Usually the longest leashes accepted are 6 feet.
“For your dog’s safety, do not connect the leash to the collar because you don’t want to risk a neck injury,” Celapino adds. “I recommend attaching the leash to the D ring on a front harness or a body harness.”
To keep your pet’s paw pads from getting cut or torn on rough, rocky terrain during day hiking trips with dogs, train him to wear doggy boots, such as Kurgo Step and Strobe dog boots.
Make sure your dog is healthy and athletic enough to make the trek by getting a wellness check by your veterinarian. And, always keep your dog on a leash as you don’t want him to run into a venomous snake or a beehive.
Toast to Your Dog at a Dog-Friendly Winery
If wine tasting is a favorite for you, you’ll be thrilled to know there are pet-friendly wineries across the country. While you enjoy a sample fleet of red and/or white wines, treat your dog to slightly chilled bottled water served up in a stylish bowl, such as a PetRageous Designs Cty Pets bones bowl, or a collapsible travel bowl, such as Dexas Popware for Pets cup with carabiner.
Roam the Local Festivals
Many communities host local festivals and fairs that may feature the works of talented artists or organically grown food by local farmers. There also are pet-themed festivals that include fun doggy games and lots of goodies for both of you to enjoy.
One major safety caution from Celapino: Use 6-foot leads and never retractable leashes.
“With a retractable leash, you have no control of your dog, and the wire from it can cut the leg of a person at the event,” Celapino says. “I find these types of leashes to be far too dangerous. You have more control when your dog is on a 4- or 6-foot lead.”
Be aware, too, that when the temperatures are in the high 70s, the actual surface temperature on pavement or asphalt can spike above 120 degrees Fahrenheit. So, while on a day trip with your dog to a festival, pay attention to your pet and make sure he is not standing in place on pavement while you peruse the local wares.
During summer, stay cool, seek out shade and pack water and a portable dog bowl for him. On bright days, shield your dog’s eyes by fitting him with Doggles K9 Optix dog sunglasses.
Explore the Waters
If your dog sports “sea legs,” consider taking him out on a boat, whether a motor boat or canoe or kayak. If your pup is new to the water, Celapino recommends maintaining a happy, can-do attitude as dogs are experts at reading our emotional states.
“If your dog is a little nervous while being on a boat, speak in a calm voice and provide him with small, healthy treats to help him welcome boat rides,” she says.
Don’t have a boat of your own? You can rent a boat, or there also are dog-friendly brunch cruises that last a couple of hours and include a doggie buffet, as well as day-long cruises and sunset sails.
You can even try paddleboarding with your dog. In San Diego, Celapino, a certified personal trainer for both people and dogs, often organizes paddle boarding events for people and their pooches. And, she welcomes first-timers to this activity.
“Once we practice on land with the dogs on the paddleboards, we then see how they do in shallow waters before moving farther out,” she says. “All of the dogs wear life jackets with handles for easy grabbing for safety. What I like best is that you get to reinforce basic dog obedience commands like sit and stay while the dog is on the paddleboard with you.”
Depending on the type of outing, you might consider fitting your dog with a canine life jacket for added safety. One like the Kong Sport AquaPro dog floatation vest includes reflective tape and easy-to-grab handles.
Keep the “poop deck” clean by packing plenty of dog poop bags, such as Frisco planet-friendly poop bags.
Say "Ahhh" to Doggy Yoga
One of the most popular yoga poses is aptly called downward-facing dog. This pose, in which you stretch out your back feet, bend at the waist and position your head between your outstretched hands, resembles the common friendly canine greeting called the play bow.
Celapino loves hosting outdoor yoga events that pair people with their dogs.
“Dogs read our energies,” she says. “When you stay calm while holding a yoga pose, your dog stays calm. Yoga helps reinforce doggy commands like sit, stay and down. It is a great way to live in the present moment with your best pal—your dog.”
Doggy yoga sessions are staged all over the country. Check local yoga studios or online to find dog yoga near you.
Shop with Your Pooch
Grrr-eat news! More than a dozen national retail stores put out the welcome mat for dogs, and some even dole out treats. So, when the weather is too windy or rainy for outdoor day trips with dogs, bring your pup along on a shopping trip.
Topping the list of pet-allowed places are Michaels and Hobby Lobby craft stores and book stores, including Barnes and Noble. If you’re feeling the need to renovate your home, most home-improvement stores also allow dogs. Call ahead and confirm with the store manager that well-mannered, leashed dogs are welcome.
Since store aisles can be narrow, fasten your dog on a short leash (around 4-feet long) to ensure he stays close by your side. One option includes the ZippyPaws original climbing rope dog leash, or opt for a hands-free waist leash, such as the Waggin’ Tails Smart 3-in-1 hands-free dog leash.
The next time you have a free day, instead of binging your favorite television show, enjoy some day trips with dogs. When you return home, you both will be doggone tired and happy. And that friendship bond between you will only deepen.