Posted on November 27 2019
Your sleeping bag is in the trunk, and you’ve stuffed granola bars and fresh water into backpacks. The tent is stowed, your camera battery is full, and you’re ready for your next hike. Behind you, you hear a whine. How could you possible leave your sweet dog at home on such a beautiful day?
You don’t have to. Dogs need exercise, fresh air, and time with their owners. A hike is the perfect way to bond. But it’s important to know how to keep your pet safe on hikes. Below are five things all pet owners should keep in mind when embarking on a journey with their barking companion.
Some parks have rules against bringing dogs on hikes, and other parks allow dogs, but ask owners to avoid taking them on certain trails. Be mindful of these requests for two important reasons. First, you don’t want to be sent packing just because you’ve brought your dog. Second, and more importantly, parks don’t make rules like that without reason. If a park doesn’t want pets to visit, there is likely a safety concern. The trails aren’t safe, or perhaps the wildlife is a concern. Check the park’s website before you head out, and follow the rules posted.
You’ve got the granola bars and your favorite water bottle, but what about your dog? Never take your dog on a hike without packing water and snacks. A baggie of kibble and a few dog treats weigh hardly anything, but it’ll mean the world to your dog when you stop for lunch. Water is even more important. Foldable plastic dog bowls can be clipped easily to your backpack, and packing an extra couple bottles of water isn’t too hard. You won’t be over-burdened by supplies, and your dog will be able to drink when thirsty and keep his or her energy up for the rest of the fun.
Elevation is a cause of concern for two reasons when hiking with your dog. First, higher elevation usually means a steeper climb. Paws can be slippery. You don’t want to risk your dog having a nasty fall. Research the trail first. See if other dog owners recommend it before risking the health of your fur baby. Second, elevation usually produces cooler air. If you’re hiking so high that there will be a considerable temperature difference, make sure that any short-haired dogs have a jacket on to keep them warm while ascending.
It’s everyone’s worst nightmare. Your dog slips his or her collar and bolts. It’s one thing if this happens on your morning walk through your neighborhood, but it’s entirely different in the middle of a massive park. Make sure before taking your dog on a hike that it has a microchip, tags on its collar with your contact information, and keep your pup’s favorite treat handy in case you have to bribe it back to the leash.
At home, your dog might sleep in bed with you. Or it might have a bed in a kennel. Either way, your dog has a place at night where it feel safe to go to sleep. If you’re camping, make sure that your dog can still feel secure, even in an unfamiliar setting. Bring the kennel if you can, or at least bring your dog’s favorite blanket or pillow so it can cuddle. If your dog still seems anxious, letting it snuggle with something that has your scent on it can help. Those stinky sock you wore all day? Give them to your dog and the scent of his or her owner will be a comfort.
Dogs are a precious gift. They’re our best friends, our most loyal family members. It’s wonderful to take them out in nature and bond, but you need to do it safely to ensure that your dog can enjoy his or her time out as much as you do. By following these five tips, you can guarantee a safe and fun time for your fur baby.