Have you seen that bright, glowing orb in the sky? That mysterious, blinding ball of light that occasionally peeks out from behind a cloud? It’s the SUN! Spring is well on it’s way, people! It’s time to squint our way back outside into nature.
What better way to crawl back out of hibernation than to take a hike! Trust me, your dog wants to come with. I think I speak for all of us (well, maybe not the senior citizens or my more smushy-faced friends) when I say that us dogs LOVE to hike! The smells, the sounds, the sights – it’s just the best thing ever. But there are a few things you should know before hitting the trail.
Leashes – “Aww, do we have to?!”
Most trails require that your pup always be on a leash. It may not be what you pictured for your hike, but there are lots of good reasons for the rule!
The most important reason we have to be on leash is to help keep us safe. While we would love to roam far and wide through the wilderness, it’s your job to make sure we come back down the trail again!
We may very well follow our nose or our instincts to chase something far, far away from you. That puts the both of us in potentially dangerous situations. Without being under any control, we may get a little too brave with wildlife, or misjudge our surroundings and end up on the edge of a cliff! With all the distractions and excitement of the outdoors, you can’t exactly count on us to be using our best judgment.
Preserving the Eco-System
Let me tell you the truth. I do not care about ferns. I’m sorry, but I just don’t get why it’s so wrong to skip through the flowers. But apparently, as I am told, the eco-systems that some of the most beautiful trails wind through are very fragile and are not meant to be “trampled” (I prefer the word frolicked, but whatever) by dogs.
Courtesy To Other Hikers
While I’m pretty sure everyone loves me, not everyone you encounter is a big fan of dogs. Especially if yours is bounding around a corner at them, alone, in the middle of the woods. Generally that tends to alarm people. If they have a dog, too, they might not appreciate a surprise greeting either. Dealing with a dog fight miles away from civilization is probably not going to be how anyone envisioned their day.
Etiquette on the Trail
Do Your Doody
Poo happens. Be sure to either bag it up then pack it out with you, or bury it. The only scat that should be on a mountain is that of its inhabitants. This is an important part of preserving the eco-system, like I mentioned earlier.
Remember that when you have a pup with you, others have the right-of-way. That way no one has to get up close and personal with your dog unless they want to. For horses, yield off the trail a few feet and try to keep us quiet and restrained so as not to spook the horse. If possible, always step to the downhill side of the trail. Horses perceive things uphill from them to be bigger and more threatening.
Follow the Rules
Being a hiker with a dog, you and your pooch will be considered canine hiker ambassadors. That means people will tend to judge all hikers with dogs based on their experience with you! So do all the doggie outdoorsmen a favor and be a good representative by following any and all posted rules for the trail you’re on.
What To Bring
- Water and bowl. We gotta stay hydrated too!
- Leash and collar. DUH!
- Food, treats, and other overnight necessities in case you become stuck for any reason.
- Plastic bags or a trowel. Again, DUH!
- D. tags and a picture of your pup. If you two should get separated, having a picture of him might come in handy.
- Doggie backpack so we can pull our own weight! You can find these at a wide variety of pet stores.
- Canine first aid kit. Think gauze pads, tape, and antibiotic cream in case we get hurt, and bouillon cubes to entice us to drink if we get dehydrated.
Now that you’re up to speed on hiking with dogs, get out there and enjoy the great outdoors!
Executive Canine Quality Control Officer