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8 Outdoor Activities to Do with Your Dog this Summer

8 Outdoor Activities to Do with Your Dog this Summer

Summer in the Pacific Northwest is, in my opinion, the best summer weather in the world. It’s not too hot, nor to cold. It doesn’t rain for nearly three straight months. The camping is divine, as the night air still cools down for a perfect sleeping temperature. It’s the most wonderful season to try some new outdoor activities to do with your dog.

Of course, not all of us live in the Pacific Northwest, including us these days! This list of suggested outdoor activities to do with your dog varies from simple camping to more adventurous sports like bike joring. The idea is that no matter where you live, there is at least one, (if not more!) activity to try with your dog and enjoy—or brave—the summer weather.

Whether this is your first time camping or you’ve had your gear bin sitting out by the door since February, waiting for that first glint of weather warm enough to plan a night outside, camping with your pup is a great way to spend time together and enjoy the outdoors.

Look for somewhere new to go visit this summer or plan a camping with dogs Instagram meet up for a weekend. We have done several, often never having met our companions beforehand, and had an amazing time together.

For a list of our favorite dog camping gear, look no further. 

Spend the Night in a Fire Tower

If you live out west, then you’re in luck because you can book your own tower in the sky for a night. It is one of the most magical, unique experiences you’ll have in the outdoors.  With fire scouting technologies improving, fire towers have become mostly obsolete. While some have been left to rot, others have been maintained by the US Forest Service and are available for rent at low rates.

The caveat is that they go fast. For your best bet, either find one that is first come, first serve or you’ll have to wait until winter and start booking your fire tower lookout a year in advance here. Most are fairly rustic, but include beds (you bring your own bedding), a wood fire stove, cooking utensils, and often there is an outhouse on the ground level. Many have a set of steep stairs, sometimes several stories high, so if your dog is afraid of heights or stairs, be sure to bring a sturdy harness to carry him up.

Bicycle Touring

Of course we had to include this on the list! Bicycle touring with your dog is incredible fun and gives you a perspective of an area that you’ve never seen before. We thought we knew Oregon pretty well, but it wasn’t until we did our Oreogn Rode Trip last summer that we really got to know our state. Traveling on bicycle takes you on roads you wouldn’t choose to drive in a car, therefore putting you in small towns that you otherwise blast by on the freeway.

For tips on how to get your dog used to a bike trailer, read How to Bike with a Dog

Trail Running

Road running isn’t really my thing, especially in urban areas where I spend as much time waiting at stop lights as I do running, so I hit the trails. Not only are the trails cooler in hot summer months, but the pure joy I feel running along the dirt, hopscotching over the rocks and roots, while the pine trees protect me from the sun brings me intense peace. And it’s all even better with a dog by my side.

To learn more about running with a dog, check out my Ultimate Guide to Running with a Dog.

Sora and I have run the 20-mile Peterson Ridge Rumble in Sisters, OR together, and there are plenty of other races across the country that allow dogs. The best part is that trail races are often pretty chill and so it’s not tough to find ones that allow dogs. Several Rainshadow Running races, for example, allow dogs. For a comprehensive list that includes international events, check out Iron Doggy.

I’m all about that hands-free running, and here are a few leashes and running belts we recommend.

Our Picks: Best Dog Life JacketsAvg. RatingPrice
Ruffwear Slackline Leash★★★★☆$$
Tuff Mutt Hands Free Dog Leash★★★★Image result for half star insert$
My Rad Dog Release N Run★★★★Image result for half star insert$$
Kurgo K9 Excursion Running Belt★★★Image result for half star insert$$
Paw Lifestyles Retractable Hands Free Dog Leash★★★★Image result for half star insert$

Speaking of running…why not try…


I first heard of canicross from my friend Jura of @tala_the_nubianhound. They live in Quito, Ecuador, which sits at 2850 meters, and just so happens to be one of our favorite pet-friendly cities in this world!

But we’re talking about Canicross. What is canicross, exactly?

It’s a cross-country running event with dogs, developed as a sport to condition mushing huskies during the off season. Both humans and dogs wear a harness with a bungee, while dogs pull their humans along the course. While the sport is still in its infancy in the US, races are popping up all the time. In the UK and the rest of Europe, the sport has been gaining popularity over the years.

A true team sport, the best pairs generally have a close relationship and understand each other well. To find out about events near you, or even host your own, check out Canicross USA.

Bike joring is the new fun sport to do with your dog! Give it a try this summer!
Photo courtesy of Stephanie Clemens of @pupfrankie.

Bike Joring

Bike joring (yoring, not joring!) is similar to canicross in that your dog pulls you along, only this time you’re on bicycle. This sport is great for highly active dogs who can’t seem to burn enough energy even after hours of activity. Avoid pavement and hard surfaces, as your dog can overheat, and instead look for wide dirt roads. Note that you will be going quite fast with this sport, so it’s best to start out slow and know that falling is a risk.

The best part? When winter comes, you can just swap your bike for a pair of cross country skis and continue year round!

Want to try canicross or bike or ski joring with your dog? These are some of the gear kits we recommend. (note: some links only lead to the individual harness, rather than the whole kit, as the brand does not sell them as a unit.)

Our Picks: Best Dog Pulling Harnesses for Canicross and JoringAvg. RatingPrice
Kurgo Long Haul Joring & Canicross Bundle★★★Image result for half star insert$$$
Ruffwear Omnijore System★★★★☆$$$
Non-stop X Back Harness  (price reflects cost for whole kit)★★★★☆$$
Canine Equipment Ultimate Pulling Harness★★★★☆$$

Paddle Boarding

We got to try paddle boarding last summer in Bend with Sora and had a blast. Paddle boarding (or SUP) is a great way to escape the heat. Go early in the morning for calmer waters and cooler temps. We’re dying to try paddle camping. It’s like backpacking, but on water! You carry your gear in waterproof bags on your paddle board and then camp! Check your local tourism board for water trails to help plan your next outing. Rentals are fairly cheap, usually around $15-$20 for a couple hours.

Our friend Maria is a longtime pro at paddle boarding with her pups. She runs clinics for newbies, goes on paddle camping vacations, and has even written a super helpful book to get you started. Follow her at @sup_with_pup.

Dogs need life jackets, too! Here are a few that we recommend.

Our Picks: Best Dog Life JacketsAvg. RatingPrice
Ruffwear K9 Float Coat★★★★★$$$
Outward Hound Ripstop Life Jacket★★★★Image result for half star insert$
Paws Aboard Doggie Life Jacket★★★★Image result for half star insert$
Kurgo Surf n Turf Dog Life Vest★★★★Image result for half star insert$$
Hurtta Life Savior★★★★★$$

Backpacking…Just You and Your Pup

After receiving news that Sora had a cancerous tumor, I decided that I wanted to head out for a short overnight adventure just Sora and me. I picked a spot with a five mile hike in, let my family know where I’d be, packed our gear and we set off.

Backpacking alone with just Sora felt super empowering. I had only myself to rely on if something were to happen to either her or me. It was an incredible bonding experience for Sora and me.

We snuggled, ate dinner together by the lake with no one else around, and slept head to head in the tent. The experience gave me the confidence to know that I can go out on my own in the woods and be stronger for it.

Take a load off your back and make your dog carry some of her own gear! Here’s a few of our favorite backpacks for dogs.

Our Picks: Best Dog BackpacksAvg. RatingPrice
Mountainsmith K-9 Pack★★★★Image result for half star insert$$
Kurgo Baxter Dog Backpack★★★★☆$
Ruffwear Palisades Multi-Day Pack★★★★Image result for half star insert$
Outward Hound Daypack★★★★☆$

What are your favorite outdoor activities to do with your dog during the summer months?


If you need ideas for outdoor activities to do with your dog this summer, look no further. This is a list of fun, active ways to enjoy the nice weather together.

Matthew Tudge

Friday 6th of July 2018

Hi Jen, I really loved this article. My dog and I are literally best friends and we try and do as much as we can together so this was really useful! I have a staffordshire bull terrier called Chalky who is really boisterous and extremely loving! I have been backpacking, hiking and camping quite a lot with him but one thing we haven't tried yet is paddle boarding. Sounds like you had a great time doing this so really looking forward to giving it a go!! :)

Also, I wanted to ask if anyone here can recommend or has used a certain brand of dog guard which they found really good? I have tried numerous universal ones and I'm now looking at getting a vehicle-specific dog guard as the universal options I used just didn't last long. I came across Travall online and they seem good. Has anyone got any recommendations?

Thank you. Matt

Jen Sotolongo

Saturday 7th of July 2018

It sounds like you and Chalky have a great time together! We highly recommend paddle boarding. It is a ton of fun and very relaxing. As far as a dog guard for the car, we used to have a Subaru-issued one for our Outback, but other than that, we don't have any specific recommendations for you. I would suggest going to the Camping with Dogs Facebook Group and asking there. You will get a TON of recommendations!