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Friday, October 14, 2011

Day 14-Hiking with Dogs

Today I will be talking about hiking with man's best friend.  Some people are pro dogs some are against.  I love dogs and think they make great hiking partners.  Just make sure to follow a few simple rules and this will be a match made in heaven.
Dogs are like people in that they need to be conditioned just as much as we do.  Just like you couldn't go out and do a 10 mile hike after being sedentary for your entire life, neither can your dog.  Make sure that your dog is conditioned for the hike you will be doing.  If not, you could risk injury for your dog and for you when you have to carry him back down the hill.  Or, you could be stuck like I was when my 90 pound lab decided to lay down in the middle of the trail and refused to move.

You also want to make sure your dog is well trained for trails.  They should be able to walk calmly on  a leash and not lunge at people or animals when passing by.  Teaching the "leave it" command will enable you to have a peaceful hike without your dog trying to take off at every new sight or smell.  This also ensures that other hikers will not feel nervous about your dog trying to jump on them.

Think about hydrating your dog as you would for yourself.  Often we forget about our four legged friends when getting our pack ready.  Yes, dogs can drink out of streams and their tummies are stronger than ours, but you should really bring a bottle of water for Fido too.  Also bring a bowl of some sort.  I have a collapsible fabric bowl that is waterproof inside so it is easy to pack and doesn't take up much room.  If you will be gone a long time, add a snack to your pack so that your dog has the energy needed to make it all the way and to reward him for doing such a great job!
The law in Washington state is that your dog has to be on a leash.  I know many of you have well behaved dogs and think that your dog is the exception, but it isn't.  Not everyone is as fond of dogs as you and I are, and an off leash dog can ruin their hiking experience.  Let's be thoughtful of our fellow hikers and put our dogs on a leash.
 Last but not least, pick up after your pet.  As I mentioned in a previous post, my pet peeve is when dog owners let their dog make a mess in the middle of the trail and do not pick up after them.  YUCK!  This is the main reason that dogs on trails get a bad rap.  After all, it is not the dog, it is the irresponsible owner.  When taking your dog on a hike, always bring a bag to clean up your dog's mess and be prepared to "pack it out".  Do not leave the full bag on the side of the trail. 
I hope these tips will ensure you have a great hiking experience with your dog.  Bringing your dog with you will not only provide you with a cheerful hiking partner, but will keep your dog healthy and active for years to come!

Happy Hiking!

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