7 Must-Know Tips to Keep Your Dog Safe On The Trails This Summer
7 Must-Know Tips to Keep Your Dog Safe On The Trails This Summer
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A weekend spent in the grand beauty of nature is what fuels me during the workweek. My boyfriend, Josh and I have been hiking almost every weekend for the last 4 years. When the time comes on Friday evening to get our packs out of the closet, it is the third member of our hiking party, Blue, who is the most excited. She is a 5 year old Australian Shepherd and our baby.  
We would hate to leave her at home and deny her the opportunity to do what she loves. In fact, hiking with her has become of my most gratifying hobbies. It provides us with a great source of bonding, physical exercise, and joy. However, as gratifying as hiking with her is, it is not without its dangers.

Whether you are experienced in taking your dog out onto the trails or this is your first time, follow these 7 tips to keep them out of harm’s way.
  • 1. Training

    An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It is important that the hike that you are planning is appropriate for your dog’s CURRENT physical capability. Do not assume that they can handle it. Just like is the case with humans, it is important to ease them into higher levels of physical activity to make sure that the experience is safe and enjoyable. Build up to longer hikes with a series of shorter ones to toughen paw pads and increase stamina.  

  • 2. When to Keep Them Leashed

    Although you may feel comfortable with your dog off-leash it is important to pick appropriate times and places to do this. According to Amy Devine, founder of the 300-member NOVA Trail Dogs Hiking Club in Alexandria, Virginia, dogs should be leashed anytime they are around other hikers, bikers, horses, or when they are on slippery terrain (to avoid them knocking someone else over).

  • 3. Watch What They Drink

    Make sure that you bring enough filtered or bottled water for your pooch as well as a container from which they can comfortably drink. River and lake water can contain harmful algae and parasites that will make your dog very ill. That is why it is also important to train them from the beginning to only drink the water that you have brought for them.

    4. Protect Their Joints
    Active pups’ joints require extra attention. All that wear and tear can make them more susceptible to injury as well as painful deterioration. Luckily, this can be prevented with proper nutrition and supplementation. To keep her joints healthy, we feed Blue a grain-free diet, and a daily joint supplement. Our vet recommended one from Infinite Pets and it has worked great. Blue has way more energy on hikes and recovers much faster afterwards. We also love the fact that the formula contains Organic Turmeric (a powerful natural anti-inflammatory) and none of the crappy ingredients that other brands use. You can order one for your dog directly from their Amazon page.   
  • 5. Check For Ticks

    These little buggers can cause serious health problems if left unnoticed. Carefully scan your dog’s skin periodically to catch them. You can check with your veterinarian for precise instructions on removal but usually gently removing the tick with a tweezer is best (being careful to not break the head off while it is inside). 
  •  6. Safe swimming

    Not all breeds are equally comfortable in the water. Additionally, water presents a whole new set of challenges. If part of your hike includes cooling off in the water it is best to keep your dog insured with a proper lifejacket. One that has a handle is best so that you can easily grab them in case of danger or if they are panicked.

  • 7. Be Extra Careful of Temperature

    Dogs gain and lose body temperate much quicker than us humans. Therefore to avoid them overheating or freezing, it is even more important to be conscious of the temperature. Make sure that hikes in hot weather have adequate shade where your dog can cool off. Additionally, if you are planning on camping overnight make sure that your pet has a warm place to sleep in the colder nighttime weather. (We have an extra-large 2 person sleeping bed that comfortably fits all 3 of us).

  • That’s it! Hope that you find this helpful on your future adventures with your four-legged companion. It’s a beautiful world out there. Get out there and enjoy it!
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