Saturday, 12 April 2008 – Janet Winter
Hiking or camping with your dog can be a fun experience for both of you – unless your faithful friend disappears or is injured. Use common sense to plan ahead and avoid a calamity.
The following seven tips will insure that you both arrive back home safely and eager to go again.
1. Always have your dog in sight and on a leash – which is required in many public areas. It’s tempting to let them run free, but that’s when trouble can come knocking. Even if your voice commands seem to be ‘sealed in concrete’ when walking in your neighborhood or at the local dog park, distractions in unfamiliar areas may cause the best-trained dog to stray. One option is to use a retractable leash, which gives your dog a feeling of more freedom. Taking along a favorite toy can help to focus your dog’s attention near you, particularly if a potentially harmful situation arises.
2. Check for information that lists the types of wild animals and plants that you may encounter on your hike and keep your eyes open for them. Wildlife such as snakes, bears, skunks, porcupines, mountain lions and coyotes can cause serious injury to your dog if there is an encounter. Even other dogs in the vicinity – particularly those not on a leash – can start a fight. Plants such as poison ivy, cactus or other thorny plants and nettles can cause injury or serious irritation to your dog’s skin.
3. Carry a small first-aid kit with items recommended by your veterinarian to take care of cuts and scratches or other medical emergencies. To protect both of you, be sure you have a cell phone that is fully charged and operational in the area where you’ll be hiking or camping.
4. Dogs are as susceptible to mosquito bites and sunburn as you are. Be sure to take along a mosquito repellent and sunscreen recommended by your vet. It’s a good idea to make sure your dog is up date with flea and tick treatments, vaccinations and heartworm prevention medication, too.
5. Take plenty of water for both you and your dog. Since dogs don’t have sweat glands, they are susceptible to heatstroke in very warm weather. Take plenty of rest breaks and avoid letting your dog drink from water sources that could harbor harmful parasites or toxins. Water from home that your dog’s body is accustomed to is always best.
6. During hunting seasons it’s important to take extra precautions for both you and your dog. Wear bright or reflective clothing and consider a reflective vest for your dog. Unfortunately, dogs can be mistaken for other animals, so make provisions to insure that you both stand out in the environment.
7. The most important tip has been saved for last. Your dog should wear a collar I.D. tag that is attached with a small, strong key ring, since the S-hook type attachments often fail. The tag should include your name, city and state of residence, phone number, dog’s name and your vet’s phone number. Also add your cell phone number so you can be reached quickly if your dog does disappear and is found by another hiker. If you are camping, locate an « instant » pet name tag machine before you leave. Make a temporary tag in addition to their regular tag. Include the dog’s name, the park and campsite where you’ll be staying and the dates you plan to be there.
A bonus tip – be sure you and your dog are both in good physical condition with sufficient endurance to easily complete the trek you’re planning.
If you want your dog to carry his own pack, which is very popular these days, be sure not to load it down with more than one-third of your pooch’s body weight. Twenty to thirty percent is a good rule of thumb to avoid tiring out your excited hiker too quickly. Allow your dog to get used to carrying the pack ahead of time by taking short walks around the block or even around the house. Save yourself the exhaustion of carrying your pooped pooch back to the car.
There are many pet safety products for car travel and pet life jackets, if you’ll be near a lake or on a boat.
If you plan a picnic as a special part of your day, there are collapsible food and water bowls for dogs as well as shade and mosquito protective light-weight tents. A nap may be just the thing for both of you after a tummy-filling lunch combined with sunshine and warm breezes before you head for home.
About the Author:
Janet Winter has a deep love for animals and enjoys writing informative articles about caring for your dog’s comfort, safety and fun. You can learn how to provide a loving, pampered life for your dog by visiting APamperedDog.com. She is a web designer, travel agent and writer on many topics including pampered dogs, wild birds and babies.
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