I’ve been scheming this post for a few months now. After publishing New Year resolutions to include with your dog, I knew I could expand that list to create an adventure dog challenge. When Sora died, so many of you reached out and told me how much our adventures together inspired your own. Today, January 24th would have been her 14th birthday, and I can’t think of a better way to honor her than by creating a post that encourages humans to get outside with their dogs.
That right there is the reason I keep coming back to this blog to and continue to push the limits of what people think is possible with a dog. When people tell us we can’t, we find a way to make it happen.
Now, you don’t have to go and travel the world by bicycle like we did. You don’t have to put your dog on a plane and fly halfway across the world. There are plenty of adventures well within reach of your home, or the next state over, or wherever it is you can manage to get outside and play. All that matters is that you do it with your dog.
This list includes 52 adventures to take with your dog. The idea is that you can pick one each week and tick it off the list. Some can be bundled together. Repeat the ones you enjoy most. Definitely do the ones that push your comfort zone.
1. Go for a hike. We’re starting off easy with a simple hike. This can take place in your neighborhood park or you can hit up your favorite trail. The point is to just get outside and hike.
2. Meet a new friend. We have met so many wonderful friends from Instagram and Facebook hiking groups during our travels. I’ve talked about how we’ve even gone on multi-day road trips to go meet a whole pack of Instagram friends with a friend we met on Instagram. If you have someone you’ve been friends with for awhile on social media, reach out and see if they’d like to get the dogs together for a hike.
3. Find a new trail. No matter how long you have lived in the same location, we’re betting that there are some trails that you have never explored. Our favorite way to discover new trails is to simply look at the Maps.ME map of a specific region, search for the dotted lines that signify trails, and go check it out.
4. Try paddle boarding. Paddle boarding is our new favorite summer activity. It’s a great way to start the day and if your dog likes water and can keep up, then let him swim alongside. If you have an older dog who needs some chill time, paddle boarding is a terrific way to continue to get outdoor time together.
5. Sleep under the stars. Another simple adventure. Camp in a state park, wild camp, gather a group of friends. Just spend the night under the stars in your tent. If you have never been camping before, ask a friend to take you who is knowledgeable and comfortable sleeping outside. Borrow or rent gear from somewhere like REI.
See our list of essential gear when camping with dogs.
6. Take the day off and spend it with your dog. Play hookie from work and take your dog on an adventure. Do all of her favorite things, take her to the coffee shop that serves puppaccinos before letting her pick out a treat or new toy from her favorite pet store. Or head to her favorite dog park or hiking trail. Just enjoy the day together.
7. Discover a new park in your neighborhood.There’s gotta be at least one park in your neighborhood that you’ve never visited. I know I’m guilty doing the same dog walking routes regularly. Switch things up, or even walk in the opposite direction and notice what you find.
8. Take a road trip. The time spent in the car or distance traveled doesn’t matter. Simply go somewhere together. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to visit the other side of your state, or there’s a beach or trail you’ve been meaning to get to for years. Pick an adventure you’ve always wanted to do and hop in the car and go.
For a hassle free trip, see our tips for traveling with a dog.
9. Plan a dog-friendly vacation.Bringing your dog along on vacation is so much easier than you think. And vacations come in a variety of adventures. You can stay in a posh hotel. Backpack in the woods for a week. Camp at the lake resort you used to go to as a kid. Finding dog-friendly accommodation is easy. We avoid the major tourist destinations and National Parks since they don’t tend to allow dogs and are often too crowded for our taste. We’ve found that when we travel with our dog, we discover places we never would have otherwise.
We discovered Corsica, the beautiful French island all because we traveled with our dogs.
10. Teach your dog a new trick. This isn’t really an outdoor adventure, but if you take a photo of your dog doing her new trick on a mountaintop, then boom, there’s your outdoors. I taught Sora tricks up until she died and I’m regularly introducing new tricks and games to Laila. It’s a great way to bond.
11. Hit the beach.We spent Sora’s last weekend on the beach in Spain, so the coast will always be very special to me. Bonus if you can find an isolated beach and let your dog just let loose and do sand zoomies, roll in dead fish, and discover how salty kelp is. There are fewer things better than watching a dog play at the beach.
12. Visit somewhere new together. The best part about exploring is finding somewhere new that you’ve never been. Ask friends or hiking groups for some lesser known hikes or adventure towns and go exploring for the day.
13. Try a new sport. I offer plenty of suggestions in this adventure plan, so pick one that interests you and give it a try. If you want to take a lesson or go out with a group, depending on the sport, some companies may also allow you to bring your dog along, just ask when you book.
14. Do an overnight backpacking trip. I took Sora on an overnight backpacking trip about an hour from home when we were back in Washington. I had never overnighted by myself and I wanted to do the trip to know that I could survive on my own. Hence why I stayed relatively close to home. I felt very connected with Sora, having only one another for company.
15. Go for a snowshoe hike. I was never really a winter person growing up in Seattle. Snow was exciting when it fell at our house and we got a snow day, but we never really sought the snow for activities. That all changed when we lived in Seattle for a year after we finished cycle touring. I actively looked for snow hikes, went snowshoeing, and cross country skiing all winter long. Embracing the winter is a great way to escape rainy weather at lower levels and also discover new sports.
We loved snowshoeing along the trails of dog-friendly Suncadia Resort in Cle Elum, WA.
16. Find a dog-friendly race.It seems there are more and more races accepting or even dedicated entirely to dogs now. While local 5k races are generally the distance you’ll see for dog-friendly races, some longer trail races also allow dogs. Sora and I completed the 20-mile Peterson Ridge Rumble together and had a blast.
17. Have an urban adventure. Spend a day where you live doing only dog-friendly activities. There are bound to be restaurants, pubs, stores, parks, and a host of other places to discover in your hometown that you never knew allowed dogs.
If you live in Portland, OR, I’ve got you covered: 99 Awesome Things to do with Your Dog in Portland.
18. Go wine tasting. My parents are into wine, so when we stayed with them in Seattle, we visited quite a lot of wineries. That was when I discovered that wine tasting is super dog friendly. Nearly every winery we visited allowed Sora inside the tasting room while we sipped on whites and reds. Many even have biscuits for visiting pups or have dogs of their own. Just be sure to call ahead first and ask if it’s ok to bring your fur child.
See this post for a full itinerary to our favorite dog-friendly Willamette Valley Wineries.
19. Take a pet first-aid course. This might sound like a bit of a womp womp of an adventure, but knowing how to take care of your pet should something go wrong during a hike is crucial. Look for pet-specific courses in major cities or even ask your veterinarian if she would be willing to organize a class. At the very least, don’t go on a hike without the Field Guide to Dog First Aid (buy the e-book so you don’t have to carry around a heavy book!)
20. Hike to a waterfall. There’s just something about waterfalls. They’re majestic, fun to photograph, and sometimes have swimming holes. I’ve always lived somewhere where waterfalls spill from nearly every trail (and that’s why I love the rain!). Some may have to search a little bit further to find them, but they’re always worth the hike.
21. Go on a solo hike together. It’s funny, I had run thousands of miles with Sora, or even by myself and never felt worried or scared, but when I took Sora hiking alone for the first time, I felt more anxious. I’m not sure why, it’s just a slower version of trail running! I quickly got over my anxiety and we made it a regular thing.
22. Find frozen water. Speaking of waterfalls, have you ever visited a frozen one? Talk about magical. If you can’t find a frozen waterfall nearby, then head to a lake. Of course, make sure it’s frozen enough before going out on the ice.
Some of my favorite winter hikes in WA involve frozen water. If you’re in the Seattle area, definitely check out some of these trails.
23. Discover fall foliage.Plan a hike specifically around the fall colors. My favorite fall hikes aren’t necessarily those with colorful trees, rather they’re the high alpine blueberry bushes of the Pacific Northwest. There is nothing like them. Discover what fall looks like in your unique part of the world.
24. Visit a new state (or country!).For some, this may be more challenging than others, but if you live in the US, then it’s pretty easy to venture to the neighbor and say hello. If you live along the Canadian or Mexican border, then try taking your dog for a little international excursion. Border crossings to both countries are simple and only require a small amount of veterinary paperwork.
Read this post before traveling to Canada with a dog.
25. Tackle a difficult hike.We all have that peak or steep climb we’ve had our eye on for years. This is the year to do it! Before going, check the terrain, length, and altitude, and make sure that both you and your pup are prepared to tackle the trail.
26. Hike the farthest distance you’ve ever gone. This doesn’t have to be a marathon hike, just go further than you’ve gone previously. Gradually adding distance over time will build your confidence and take you to more isolated locations compared to shorter hikes that are more easily accessible by most hikers.
27. Participate in a trash clean up. We see an alarming amount of trash during some of our hikes. Particularly so in other countries around the world and a surprising amount in Spain. Join a Keep Nature Wild clean up and spend the day beautifying your woods with your dog and your pals.
28. Find a secret (or not so secret) swimming hole. Swimming holes are where it’s at on a scorching day. I’ve never been too keen on pools, but find me a little lake warmed to perfection by the sun and I’m happy. Or, swim in an alpine lake mid-way through a hike. Find a deep and calm area of a river and jump off the rocks. Swimming in nature is one surefire way to spark the kid in you.
29. Wake up early for a sunrise hike.This is more difficult during the summer months, since the sun rises so early, but it’s worth it any time of the year. While I love both sunrise and sunset, the sunrise feels so much more peaceful to me. There are rarely any others around, since it’s so hard for people to wake up early. I also love watching the sun light up the view around me, noticing as the world comes alive.
30. Go in search of wildflowers.My very favorite part of spring is watching all of the world come alive with blossoms and color. So find a nearby hike, bring your camera, and enjoy nature’s colorful display.
31. Set up a scent challenge in the woods. We’ve been working with Laila on her olfactory skills (that would be her scent skills!) and she loves searching for her food or playing hide and seek with us. It’s also a great way to keep them busy if you’re setting up for the night. Hide their food around the campsite and ask them to find it. If you have a wanderer, you may want to look into something like the Ruffwear Knot-a-Hitch.
32. Visit a state park. I just love state parks. They feel like my own special wilderness at home. Many are dog-friendly, and often have tent camping, cabins, and sometimes yurts. If you’ve visited the ones nearby, go to a new one that you’ve never heard of or visited yet.
33. Let loose in the National Forest. Pets are allowed in all national forests, which make up 193 million acres across the US. In developed recreation and interpretive areas, they must be on leash, however, once you venture further, they are permitted to run free.
34. Go for a cycle tour. You had to know this one would be on this list! Of course, you don’t need to go for a two year, cross continent tour like we did. Start with something simple that you can reach from your front door. I had no idea there were so many places to go for just one night so close to Portland until I looked. Once you become more comfortable, start going out for longer excursions.
Need help picking out a dog bike trailer? We’ve got you covered.
35. Strike a pose. Have a fun photo shoot with your pup. I like to look to Instagram for inspiration and head out to the woods to play with different photography techniques or try different settings on my camera. I love using the Photo Time or Golden Hour apps so I know when golden hour occurs.
Check out the post I wrote sharing my tips for taking great Instagram photos of my dogs.
36. Cross country skiing. Cross country skiing can be tricky to get the hang of at first, but once you get it, it’s a great workout. Finding dog-friendly cross country ski trails is not always easy, since many are groomed. Look for local trails or snowmobile areas. They are almost always dog-friendly. Just make sure to keep a good ear out for approaching snowmobilers.
37. Try bike or skijoring.For a dog like Laila (aka one that had endless energy) many have suggested that we bike and skijoring. Basically, “joring” is a Nordic term meaning driving. In joring sports, dogs pull their humans on skis or bikes. Many breeds of dogs can participate, though smaller dogs may require more human input to maintain speed. You’ll need a harness system for the sport. We use the Kurgo Long Haul Joring and Canicross system.
38. Go mountain biking. We have yet to try this sport with a dog, but we’re excited to try with Laila. Mountain biking is a great activity for high energy dogs. It’ll leave them dog tired by the end of the ride!
39. Seek out an alpine lake.With their pristine, turquoise waters and mountains rising practically from the shore, alpine lakes are pretty special. They’re typically defined as having an altitude of 5,000 ft or higher, so that means much of the US is within decent access to an alpine lake.
High altitude can affect dogs, just like humans. Read here to learn the signs and recognize if your dog is suffering from altitude sickness.
40. Go for a trail run.We know this is my go to exercise with my dogs! If you or your dog are new to running, start slowly and gradually increase over time. A lot of running clubs allow folks to bring their dogs, so if you want to get social, look for a local club.
We have run thousands of miles with our dogs and have plenty of tips to share in our Ultimate Guide to Running with a Dog.
41. Rent a cozy cabin in the woods. If you’re not brave enough to try winter camping (we’re not quite there yet!) then opt for a cozy cabin in the woods. Bonus if it includes a fireplace to warm your toes after a chilly afternoon outing.
42. Have a picnic.We love heading to a local park for a sunset picnic by bicycle, but there’s no right or wrong way to enjoy a meal outside with your pup. Just head to a favorite location with pretty viewpoint, lay out a blanket, and enjoy a meal together in nature.
43. Find a doga (dog yoga) class. Bringing your dog to yoga class seems to be more and more popular these days. Ask your yoga studio to host one, or check with your local pet store. Sometimes they host in the store before opening hours.
44. Enjoy a doggy ice cream together. Doggy ice cream is the new pupcake. Seattle-based Swell makes gelato just for dogs. And many ice cream shops even have options for our furry friends. After a hike on a hot day, treat yourself and your pup.
45. Nap in a meadow on a warm day. Catch up on your Vitamin D and soak in the rays while cuddling your pup in a lovely spot in nature.
46. Get muddy. I’m from Seattle and Portland. If you don’t learn to embrace the mud, you’re either going to be stuck inside for many months or you’re going to constantly worry about dirty floors and cars. Get some wellies, jump in some puddles, and invest in rubber mats for your car. It’s fun. I promise.
47. Take a sunset hike. If you just can’t get yourself out of bed early enough to watch the sunrise, then take a sunset hike instead. Make sure to bring a headlamp, as the walk back may be dark!
48. Do the thank you exercise somewhere beautiful. I discovered the “thank you exercise” after purchasing the Dog Cancer Surival Guide. Taking a few minutes each day to thank Sora for everything I appreciated about her made saying goodbye less painful in some ways. When that day came, I knew that I had said everything that I needed to say to her and that I recognized her for the value she provided in my life. My favorite spots to do this with here were in nature, when it was just her and me.
49. Visit a dog-friendly brewery or restaurant after a hike. Is there anything better than a good craft brew after a day spent outside? I think not. Breweries with patios are almost always dog-friendly and often have treats available for visiting pups.
We have a list of some of our favorite dog-friendly watering holes in Portland, OR.
50. Run free on BLM land. Similar to National Forest Lands, but with far more liberties, BLM (Bureau of Land Management) public lands allow dogs on most trails and campgrounds. Back country areas do not require dogs on leash and there are miles and miles and miles for them to roam. Most BLM lands across 12 states in the west.
51. Head into the woods. It doesn’t matter what kind of woods. Just go to your nearest wooded park, a nearby trail, a faraway trail. Go find some woods and take a quiet walk together.
52. Get outside. The whole point of this challenge is simply to get outdoors. It can start with your own neighborhood, your local park, or the bike path that cuts through your city. The key inspiration of this entire post is to spend more time outside with your dog. So do what you can, go where you can, and adventure when you can.