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Roadtripping with Dogs: Exercise and National Parks (Part 3)

In this post we will discuss how mental and physical exercise are a critical component to happy and healthy dogs on your road trip. We will discuss accommodating exercise wherever you happen to be. We will also talk about how to schedule your time when the humans are planning on spending time in the national parks.

Mental and Physical Exercise:

  • Make stops to take long walks and stretch your dogs’ legs: we like to power through when we drive long distances but we always make a point to stop at intervals to take a good 30-45 minute walk so the dogs can get a stretch. We do take short potty breaks every few hours, but we also stop every 6-7 hours for long-line walks.

  • Bring a long-line: Maybe your dog is great off-leash but there are a lot of places where leashes are required by law. When that is the case, I love to take out my 30-foot line and allow my dogs to stretch their legs and roam a bit. I have an awesome biothane one that never gets dirty or wet! I love it!

  • Bring LOTS of chewing projects to keep your dogs occupied. Before going on our trip I ordered enough bully sticks for each dog to have one a day if needed, along with one trachea a day. I also brought kongs that I could fill and freeze in the hotel freezers, along with their typical food dispensing toys. With working for their food, having plenty of appropriate things to chew on, and stopping at a bunch of new places, they weathered the 8000 miles of driving very well!

  • Travel Hack: Fill a Kong with peanut butter from the continental breakfast mixed with kibble and place in the hotel freezer to give when you have to leave your dog behind in the hotel and you forgot something to re-fill the kong with!

  • If you plan on leaving your dog alone in the room, or just generally want them to behave well on your trip, exercise is crucial! We like to get up early and take care of the dogs needs before we head out on our own, especially in National Parks that tend not to be dog friendly. Take a couple mile stroll through your new surroundings or find a local park where you can play ball and burn off some energy to start the day. There wasn’t much in the way of places to walk in Wall, SD but we did find an awesome field to let the dogs run and play in. You have to be flexible and creative!

  • Sometimes it’s too hot to exercise your dog in the middle of the day (like in Arches when it was 104 mid-day!). That’s when you can get creative in your hotel room. Over the years I have taught many tricks in a hotel room including get me a tissue, put away the trash, turn lights on and off, put down the toilet seat, open and close doors, etc. You can even play hide and seek with your dog in a small hotel room. Your dog will burn energy when you call him and you’re hiding behind the bed or behind the shower curtain. There are a lot of fun games you can make up to do in small spaces so your dog can get mental exercise!

Schedule for National Parks:

  • What worked really well for us, especially in the summer heat, was to wake up early and exercise the dogs. At that point we would head into the park. Six to eight hours later we would come home to let the dogs out. This allowed us to do longer eight mile or so hikes while still being able to accommodate the dogs. After some play and exercise with the dogs we would head back to the park for another couple hours. This also gave us a nice break during the day as we were doing a marathon of different parks and this allowed us to not burn out.

  • Check with the park about where dogs are allowed. Most allow them 100 feet from paved roads and in campgrounds. Some parks have dog friendly trails or sections like Zion National Park. Take advantage of those areas when you can.

  • Our dogs are used to hanging in the car (they come to work with me on days when its not hot out) so in the places where temps were in the 50s all day, taking them was even easier as we just left them in the car for our shorter hikes and then they were able to sit outside and have dinner with us in the park and have a walk around.

  • Tip: Check out the parking situation before you go into the park. We didn’t know there wasn’t enough parking at Zion and we would have to take a bus into the park to take another bus to the hike we wanted to do. This would add time to our planned time away from the dogs who were hanging out in the hotel room. Luckily when we went into the park in the morning to walk the dogs we found out and were able to make adjustments to our schedule and plans. Be flexible and try to gather as much information beforehand as possible

  • Have fun and relax! The point of going on these fabulous trips is to enjoy this country with your best friend by your side. So plan ahead as much as possible and then sit back, relax, and take in the gorgeous country that we get to call home.

I hope these posts have given you some ideas to consider when preparing for a road trip with your dog. Yes, it’s a little extra work to bring Fido, but it’s totally doable with a little extra planning! Happy Roadtripping!

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**Originally posted on in August 2017


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