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Nowadays, dogs mostly count as family members. So naturally, most dog owners don’t want to leave their furry friend behind when they’re going for a day trip.
But you can’t take your 80 lb Labrador anywhere you like that easily, right? Yes, that’s probably true, life with a dog certainly needs some planning.
BUT, with a small dog, you’re much more flexible.
In this post I’ll show you some day trip ideas where both you and your dog will have a good time. I specifically focus on small dogs because some activities might not be feasible with big dogs.
Let’s start with the obvious one. Hiking is probably the best day trip activity for any (small) active dog and his owner. It’s also easily feasible with bigger dogs. Find yourself a nice national park in your vicinity or go to the mountains if there are any close by.
Here you can find a list of pet friendly national parks.
Some national parks allow dogs in some areas but not in others. So you can also just put your pup in your dogpack for the parts where he’s not allowed. That way you’re much more flexible.
Your dog will love hiking more than anything. All those new smells, working together with his favorite human to master obstacles and just jumping and running around as he likes, even off-leash. There’s probably nothing better for a dog!
A cycling day trip is also a great activity for both canine and human. Once out of the city you can let your pooch run next to your bike if he’s a high energy dog. If you can’t let him go off leash, try to handle him with with a special cycle leash first, before you go on a full day trip.
What I’d rather do with a small dog, though, is to have him in your dogpack while cycling. And then when you’re resting, you can let him run and roam around. I’d do it that way because I’ve never let Baloo run next to my bike. But I’m sure with some training that shouldn’t be much of a problem. Just make sure he’s used to the bike and doesn’t go after other bikes, people or dogs, that could become dangerous.
Cycling with your dog in a dog backpack carrier or in a basket is also a great way to travel with a dog without a car.
3. A day at the lake or at the sea
Another wonderful day trip activity with any dog is to go to a lake, a stream or the sea, whatever is close to you. Even if your pupper doesn’t like water, he can just run along it. Usually, side banks of lakes and streams are filled with other dogs. Lots of playtime buddies for your furry friend. I absolutely love to stroll along any kind of water, then sit in a restaurant or café along it somewhere and just enjoy the sun. If dogs are not allowed, your dogpack comes in handy again. It’s also a good way for your pup to calm down. Most dogs can’t stop themselves, even if they’re exhausted. So it’s sometimes a good idea to force your pup to calm down to prevent over exhaustion.
4. Canoeing, boating, SUP
For any real water loving human and canine, water sports are the thing to do in summer! There are so many options but the easiest to take your dog along, are canoeing, boating or stand up paddling. Start with a small trip to slowly get your dog accustomed to the waves. Dogs can get sea sick too, so take it easy. Once he’s comfortable, it will be so much fun to enjoy a day on or in the water with your four legged friend. Make sure to get him a safety jacket, though. All dogs can swim naturally. But your pup might panic when suddenly falling in water or get tired. So a safety jacket prevents unnecessary stress.
5. Take the train somewhere
Now that’s really something for small dog owners. Since some trains don’t allow dogs, just put your dog in his dogpack and he’s well hidden. While you can enjoy the view and talk with your better half or your friends, your pupper can take a nap before the adventure. Doesn’t really matter, where the train is taking you. As long as your pup can sniff around and get some exercise, he’ll be happy. New smells are the best thing for any dog!
Traveling by train is also a great option if you don’t have a car.
6. Wine tasting
Just another one for small dog owners. I’ve taken Baloo to a wine tasting once. I think that makes a wonderful day trip activity because wineries mostly lie in rural areas. So take a walk first, let your dog get rid of his excess energy. Then he’ll happily snuggle into his carrier and the fun part for you starts. Just put him underneath your chair or bench where he can sleep while you enjoy your wine. Win win for everyone!
But there are even dog friendly wineries where your pup can stretch out next to you. Here you can find a list of wineries that allow dogs across California, the most popular weekend escape for wine lovers.
7. Drive in Movie
Does your dog like watching TV at home? Well, then a drive in movie will be the perfect activity for both of you. Spoil yourself to a romantic and nostalgic movie experience with your spouse and let your furry friend join you.
8. Visit a dog friendly museum
Believe it or not, there are some dog friendly museums! In fact, most museums with open air spaces allow dogs outdoors. (They’re mostly not allowed indoors, though.) That makes it a wonderful experience for you and your furry friend. While you’re strolling through the gardens and open air buildings, your pupper will enjoy his kind of culture – scents. To go into the buildings, just pack your doggo in your dogpack and you’re good to go. Or go with a friend and take turns going inside. Amy here has put together a wonderful list of pet friendly museums according to state. Bear in mind that a museum might be as exciting to a dog as it is to a kid. Some might find it interesting or are just happy to be next to their parent, but some will undoubtedly find it incredibly boring. So make sure you combine your visit to the museum with a long walk, preferably beforehand.
9. Rent a camper
This is more of a multi day activity. But it’s also a great thing to do for a weekend. A camper makes you so much more flexible. You can drive and sleep wherever you like. That gives you the freedom to go to calm, off the beaten track places. Especially if your dog struggles with the city life or is reactive to dogs or people, this can be a great escape for him.
Make sure to check out my post about 10 reasons to take your dog RVing. And if you’re already convinced, here’s an article to help you choose the best RV for traveling with pets.
10 Rent a cabin
Cabin holidays are such awesome adventures for a weekend. And with the tiny house movement, there are plenty of options popping up all around the globe. The cool thing about cabins and tiny houses is that you can sleep really close to nature while having much more comfort than with camping. I think both camping and cabin holidays are wonderful experiences for nature lovers. But if you prefer to have a roof on top of you and somewhat thicker walls, then cabins are the perfect option for you. When you wake up, you can immediately step outside in the forest or meadow and enjoy nature at its purest. Glampinghub has a really nice list of dog friendly cabins around the US.
What I personally really enjoy as well, are mountain chalets. I love the feeling of stepping outside into deep snow and being in the middle of nowhere. And what better surroundings could you wish for for your pup?
11. Skiing, snowboarding or sledging
Speaking of winter, how about some action in the snow? Here again, you can take your small dog into a dog backpack carrier, given that you’re a good skier or snowboarder. If you like to go off-piste, you can also let him run next to you. However, this is rather recommended for bigger dogs. If your dog is very small, he might sink in the deep snow and not come out anymore. So be careful. Only take your dog along for those activities if you’re very experienced. Sledging should be easier. Just make sure that you’re not going too fast and your pup can either run next to you or sit on the sledge with you.
Instead of just letting your dog run next to you, you can also let him do some of the work for you. Skijoring is a relatively new dog sport where your dog pulls you on your skis. It’s similar to cross country skiing but with a dog pulling you which can make you significantly faster. However, this is only suitable for medium sized dogs, weighing at least 30 lb (13.6 kg). Even though smaller dogs certainly have the energy, the pulling can put a lot of pressure on their torsos which can lead to injuries.
Did I miss anything? Do you have any other suggestions for day trips with a small dog? Leave a comment down below and I’ll be happy to extend the list.