Here in the Columbia River Gorge, we love our hikes, and we love to take our dogs with us to enjoy the natural wonders that surround us. Dogs make the perfect hiking companions for solo backpackers or family ventures. Taking your dog for a walk around the neighborhood though, is much different than a walk in the woods, so take a look at a few guidelines for keeping your dog safe on the trails.
Using the Right Kind of Leash
If you’re going to be hiking in the woods, it’s a good idea to use a short, sturdy leach. Long or retractable leashes can get caught in bushes. They can also cause you to lose control should you meet someone coming the other way on a narrow trail. For instance, it’s considered good trail etiquette to move your dog aside when cyclists pass. Unless you’re in an off-leash dog park or area, you should not take your dog off leash. This is for the protection of wildlife, other hikers, and your own dog. Plus, if you don’t keep them on leash, you could face fines.
Avoiding Harmful Flora and Fauna on the Trail
There are lots of great things to smell on a hike, and your dog will likely explore the area with his nose. While you should encourage this when you have the time to stop and let them sniff, you should also be aware of what they’re sniffing should you need to intervene. There are dangerous plants, mushrooms, and flowers that are poisonous to dogs. Also, the farther in they forage, the more likely they are to pick up painful foxtails, ticks, or even run into a dangerous animal like a poisonous snake. Let them sniff the edges of the trail, but keep them moving along at the same time so they don’t get engrossed in something you’re not sure is safe.
Packing the Right Gear for Your Dog
Depending on the environment, you may need to pack extra gear for your dog. Of course, it’s always a good idea to bring water and something for them to drink out of, but if you’ll be camping overnight, you’ll need to remember their food as well. Some dogs can pack their own gear with the right accessory pack. When boating or kayaking with dogs, it’s also a good idea to invest in a life vest for them. They are after all, a member of your family. They deserve to be protected for any emergency.
No matter where your hike happens to be, if you plan to bring your dog along, make sure their collar has the proper identification should you get separated. It’s also a good idea to give them preventative medicine to keep pests off. Afterward, reward your dirty fuzzball with a thorough grooming at Cascade Pet Camp.
For more information about hiking safety for dogs, check out: