Keeping the Tail Wagging: Maintaining Your Dog’s Exercise Routine on a Road Trip

Reviewed By Tom •  Updated: 08/23/23 •  6 min read
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Road trips are exciting for both you and your furry friend. These lengthy journeys allow you to create a stronger connection with your buddy while participating in an activity you can both enjoy.

That said, a road trip should not stop you from continuing your dog’s daily exercise routine.

This article will explore effective ways to maintain your dog’s exercise routine on the road and keep them happy. From the benefits of exercising to actionable exercise tips, this article has it all.

Importance of Exercise for Your Dog During a Road Trip

Before delving into ways to maintain your dog’s exercise routine, you need to understand why keeping your pup active is important. Here are some benefits of taking your dog’s exercise routine on the road.

Strengthens Trust and Bond

Taking out time during your trip to help keep your dog active can do wonders for your relationship with them.

For example, walking your dog, even for a few minutes, can help develop a strong bond between you and them.

Another example is playing fetch with them; this activity is exciting for your dog and allows them to play with you, leading to memorable experiences.

Improves Behavior

Dogs are excitable animals and usually have excess energy to burn. This energy can lead to unwanted results, such as chewing, scratching, and barking.

So, regular exercise, even on the road, can improve your dog’s behavior. It can keep them calm and well-behaved for the duration of the trip.

Granted, you can reduce the odds of this happening by investing in cargo liners and accessories for dogs that can protect your car from scratches, fur, and accidents. However, it is a great idea to take this extra precaution.

Maintains Physical Health

One of the main benefits of exercising is improving physical health. With regular exercises, you can strengthen your dog’s muscles, maintain their weight, and improve their cardiovascular health.

Therefore, you must continue to keep your dog active even on the road to ensure your dog enjoys these benefits. Maintaining this routine is especially important if you have an older dog.

Enhances Your Dog’s Mood

Being outside positively affects your dog’s mood. However, being enclosed in a car for long periods can dampen their mood. This is why allowing your dog to exercise during a road trip can help improve how they feel.

They especially enjoy the fresh air, and the endorphin released from exercising can enhance their mood. Keep in mind that a happy dog makes for a happy trip.

Increases Mental Stimulation

Keeping your dog active challenges their mind, preventing depression, anxiety, and boredom during the trip.

Promotes Digestion

Exercise can help regulate your dog’s digestion. Hence, if your dog is prone to constipation, especially during car rides, being active can help them poop.

Furthermore, your dog may be holding in bowel movements, seeing as they are in a car, so stepping out to exercise also gives them a chance to relieve themselves.

How to Keep Your Dog Active on the Road

Now that you know why exercising is important for your pup, here are some tips to help you ensure your canine companion is active and joyful all through the trip.

Make Stops Frequently

As mentioned, your dog may need to relieve themselves but are unable to because they are stuck in the car.

Therefore, taking frequent bathroom breaks not only allows them to relieve themselves but gives them an opportunity to stretch their legs.

So, be sure to plan for frequent stops on the road. During this period, you can take your dog on a walk or hike with a leash and allow them to receive fresh air.

If possible, stop at pet-friendly parks so that your pet has enough room to run around and play with you and other dogs. Your stops should typically happen at two-hour intervals.

Play Fun Games

Play fun games

During your stops, walks are not the only activity you can do. Consider playing games like tug-of-war or fetch to help keep your canine entertained or strengthen their bond with you. Make sure to carry some of their favorite toys with you so that they are more excited to play.

That said, you need to carry other items such as food, bowls, a first-aid kit, etc, so only pack a few toys.

Chew toys are a favorite because they can keep your pup busy for hours. It is also a good idea to purchase new toys because it will pique their interest and keep them engaged.

Other Tips to Make Your Dog Happy

Dogs appreciate daily routines, and disrupting this routine can affect them negatively. Hence, as a dog parent, you need to find ways to maintain your dog’s routine as best you can. Here are some tips to help you do just that.

Maintain Comfort by Packing the Right Accessories

Your furry friend needs essential items like a leash, bowls, and toys. However, there are other items you can carry to make the trip more enjoyable. In addition, bring along some familiar items, such as your pet’s favorite bed or blanket.

Continue Regular Walking and Feeding Times

Being on the road might alter your schedule, but try to maintain your dog’s walking and feeding schedule as much as possible. Doing this helps to keep your dog’s feelings in check by providing a sense of normalcy.

Visit Your Vet

Before embarking on your trip, visit a vet to ensure your dog is healthy enough for the long journey. Your vet will run a general check-up and confirm everything is in order. You can also purchase medication if your dog displays signs of motion sickness.

Take Practice Drives

If your pet is only used to getting in the car to visit the vet or groomer, then you need to ensure they are comfortable taking long trips. You can do this with practice drives.

The first few trips can last a few minutes. After that, you can increase the time with each ride. This should help your pup get used to longer rides.


Going on a road trip with your dog can lead to several unforgettable experiences, which is why it is easy to get wrapped up in the fun. However, keeping your pet active and maintaining their exercise routine during the trip is essential to their joy and health.

Using this article, you should understand why exercise, even on the road, is vital and how to keep your dog active during this period.

Ensure to plan frequent stops, partake in fun games, and take other actions to keep your pup’s tail wagging.

So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and hit the open road with your furry friend.

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Tom has always loved to write since he was little - he wanted to be either a writer or a veterinary doctor, but he ended up being a professional writer while most of his works are based on animals. He was born in San Francisco but later moved to Texas to continue his job as a writer. He graduated from the University of San Francisco where he studied biotechnology. He is happily married and a soon to be father!