I don’t know about you, but I tend to be relatively inactive in the summer because it is so darned hot. I still take the dogs out for walks in the morning or evenings, but nature hikes are no fun in the summer. So now that the weather is getting cooler, I’m excited about taking the dogs on an outdoor hiking expedition again.
Here are some outdoor hiking safety factors I think about for Maya and Pierson:
Leashes or Harnesses
I admit, I don’t always keep Maya on a leash when we hike. Maya is very good at staying by my side and has a very good recall. Pierson, on the other hand, has never been off leash except in our backyard. So I don’t trust him to come when he is called if he sees an animal to chase. Know your dogs. If you are not sure if they will come to you in various scenarios, then keep them on a leash. Also, be considerate to other people when hiking in areas frequented by others. Some people don’t like dogs and are even afraid of them. Furthermore, some hiking trails are also frequented by bicyclists or people riding horses. Loose dogs do not always get along well with bicycles and horses.
Maya and Pierson always wear their collar and tags. Plus, they are both microchipped. Even though I am confident in Maya’s recall and that I have a good grip on Pierson’s leash, the unexpected could happen. What if there is a loud noise that scares them? It might catch me unawares and make me lose my grip on their leash when they bolt. It’s unlikely but if the worst does happen, at least you have a better chance of being reunited with your best friend.
Beware of wild animals. Small animals like rabbits and squirrels can be very tempting for your dog to chase. Your dog getting lost because he chased an animal is not the only concern. There are many harmful wild animals to watch out for such as alligators (BrownDogCBR has to look out for these), porcupines, poisonous snakes, skunks, raccoons, etc. By the way, another good reason to keep your dog on a leash is so that they don’t eat wild animal feces. Raccoon poop, for one, can be infected with worms or even canine distemper.
Plants & Biting Insects Harmful to Dogs
Some plants can be harmful for your dog too. Look out for poison ivy and poison oak. Also beware of thorned plants. Biting insects are what bothers me the most on our outdoor hiking adventures. Ticks here are really bad. We also need to be aware of mosquitos and fleas. My dogs use Frontline, but this only kills fleas and ticks when they get on the dog. It doesn’t prevent the little blood-suckers from getting on them in the first place. As a repellant, I am considering a new product from Earth Heart called Buzz Guard. Earth Heart is the same company that makes the Travel Calm that I use for Maya when she rides in the car.
Pet Water Safety – To Swim
If you are hiking near water and plan on letting your dog swim, consider a dog life jacket. Also, know the dangerous aquatic wild animals native to your area such as water moccasin snakes or alligators.
Pet Water Safety – To Drink
Water safety also includes making sure both you and your dog have plenty of fresh cool water to drink. If you can help it, don’t let your dog drink from the lake or river water. It can contain bacteria and parasites that will make your dog sick. I like using the Kurgo collapsible dog water bowl when I go hiking with the dogs. We also won the Frosty Paws travel pack sometime back and it has a fantastic dog water bottle.
Dog Travel Safety
Don’t forget to travel to your hiking destination in safety. Seat belts for dogs, pet travel carriers, or our new K9 Car Fence, are just a few of the options available to ensure your best friend is kept just as safe as every other member of your family.
I like to take Maya and Pierson to Clinton Lake. The Mutt Run off-leash dog park is nearby and even has a place for Maya to swim. And there are a lot of secluded trails around the lake for me to take my dog-aggressive fluffhead Pierson.
I hope I covered everything. Can you think of any other outdoor hiking safety tips? Where do you like to take your dog hiking?
Update – First Aid Kit
After reading another blog post on first aid supplies, I realized I didn’t have a first aid kit on my list. Shame, shame! It is a good idea to have one with supplies for both you and your pet when you go hiking. A complete list of ideal first aid supplies can be found on KeepTheTailWagging.com. Thanks Kimberly, for your great post and reminder.