When Off-Leash isn't an Option: Having Fun with Your Dog Anyway

Bernese dog running in a dog park - leash-friendly activities for dogs.

Your dog is eager to take you for a walk but there's one problem... Those dreaded leash laws! What's a poor pup (and his owner) to do? Well, start with a really great hands-free leash because having both hands free opens up a wider range of possibilities. Then try some of these leash-friendly and fun activities you can both enjoy. Many of these suggestions are from Breed Advisor's 44 Fun Activities to Do with Your Dog (2023 edition).

Take a Walking Tour of Your Locale's Most Pet-Friendly Places

A quick nail trim at the pet store with a tasty treat or new toy afterward, a stop at a favorite café or brewery, a romp in the local dog park... If you plan the route out ahead of time, you and your pet can get a good walk in while hitting as many fun pit stops as possible. Your pup may even forget about being leashed while she's relishing all of the goodies and attention she's getting!

Go for a Run Together

One of the best leash-friendly activities for an energetic pet is a good, long run. In fact, a good run has health benefits for both of you! Just don't forget that both of you need to warm up beforehand and cool down afterward. Oh, and don't forget water and snacks for each of you!

Go Biking Together

With the right doggy bike training and equipment, your best friend would love to accompany you on a bike ride. Just choose a pet-friendly bike trail and make sure you know the trail's rules regarding dogs. If your pet is too small, short-legged, or smush-faced to keep up with the bike, how about a ride in a basket or bike pet carrier? He'll still enjoy the fresh air, enticing smells, and most importantly, spending time with his favorite human.

Dog carrying a large stick while playing in the mountains.

Practice Wild Sits

Wild and sit — somehow those two words don't seem to go together when thinking about leash-friendly activities. However, according to the AKC, this game is a fantastic way to teach your dog to go from wild and rowdy to sitting patiently almost instantly. Of course, you'll need plenty of patience to teach it, especially if your pooch tends to be hyperactive.

Start by getting your leashed dog riled up. Try anything you think might get her excited — jumping up and down, speaking in an excited tone, waving your arms, running... Do whatever it takes to get her really wound up. Then, give her the sit command in mid-romp. She probably won't respond the first time but keep practicing. Eventually, she'll get it (especially if you reward that sit with a yummy treat) and will be able to go from rowdy to calm in an instant.

Now, that's an impressively cool trick!

Become a Dog Walking Groupie 

Meetup.com is a great place to find fellow dog enthusiasts you can join for fun leash-friendly activities. You and your pup will both make new friends when you join a group — or three! Just make sure that your pet is comfortable running with a doggy crowd before you hit the trail as part of a group.

Visit a Pet-Friendly Farmer's Market

Treat your dog to the sights, sounds, smells, and friendly atmosphere of a local Farmer's Market. Your pet will likely meet some new friends and receive some loving pats while you're chatting with vendors and fellow shoppers. Just make sure that the market you go to is pet friendly. Not all of them allow pets so it's always a good idea to check before heading to the market.

Woman enjoying the view with her pet dog during a hike - leash-friendly activities for dogs.

Take a Hike

Going for a leashed walk along the same sidewalks day after day is enough to drive any dog mad from sheer boredom. So one of the best leash-friendly activities to avoid boredom is to go hiking instead! Venturing off-road where the sights and sounds and scents are fresh and exciting will inject new energy and enthusiasm into your beloved pet's life.

Start Training with Your Pet for a Charity Run 

It takes a lot of training to do well in a dog-friendly charity run, so get to it! You and your dog will need to put in a lot of running — or walking if you're starting out easy with a charity walk. Either way, it's helpful to download a great training app to keep you and your best bud motivated and improving along your charitable journey.

Take Your Dog on a Geocaching Adventure

If you've always wondered about geocaching, now is the time to try it. The Geocaching website has all the info (and the app) you and your dog will need to get started on this modern-day treasure hunt. When you find a geocache, don't forget to sign the logbook for each of you. After all, it's your pup's adventure too!

German Shepherd dog in the mountains during a geocaching adventure.

Practice the Walking Leave It

This fun (and useful!) game teaches your pet to focus on you rather than any distractions he may find lying around during your walks. Of course, you're going to help him develop this skill by providing plenty of those distractions! Start by tossing a treat out in front of your pet while you're out walking. You want it to land just out of his reach.

Naturally, he'll probably start straining or jerking against the leash to reach that tempting treat. However, a great bungee-based leash will easily take the strain. Stay strong and wait until he gives up and looks at you with that "What's up?" expression. As soon as he looks at you, praise him and hand him a treat. Then walk towards the treat. As long as he maintains a loose leash along the way, he gets that treat, too.

Practice until he learns to look at you before approaching any temptations along his path. Besides teaching your pet to focus on you, this training is also a good way to keep your beloved pet from scarfing down stray chicken bones or other garbage during your walks!

Enjoying the Simple Pleasures of the Season

Depending on the weather, there are always leash-friendly activities you and your pup can enjoy. Running through a sprinkler on a hot summer day, tromping through piles of leaves in the fall, or romping in the mountain snow in winter are all fun leash-friendly activities your pup will enjoy sharing with you.

Now that you know how to make even leashed walks more fun for your pup (and the best leash for the purpose!), visit our Dog Blog for more great ideas on keeping your best friend as healthy and happy as possible. And don't forget to send us a woof if you have any questions!

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