With summer upon us, the timing couldn't be better to go hiking. But don't think that you have to leave your furry friend at home while you are enjoying all that nature has to offer. If you are considering taking your pet along for the ride, here are some smart rules and safety guidelines to follow.
1. Keep control of your pet at all times. Consider the potential dangers your pet could encounter and always keep her leashed. You'll avoid unexpected dashes through poison ivy, darts into the woods after small wildlife and she won't look like lunch to larger animals such as coyotes, mountain lions and birds of prey.
2. Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated is important, and you never know when you'll be able to find a good, clean source of drinking water, so bring plenty along for both of you. Avoid letting your dog drink from standing water, no matter how inviting it may look.
3. Take snack breaks. In addition to stopping for hydration breaks, consider packing some tasty treats for your pet to enjoy. Because who doesn't like a snack?
4. Pay attention to the weather. Remember, pets who are usually housebound during the day may have a harder time acclimating to heat and humidity, so take that into consideration when planning your hike. If it is hot and humid, choose a flat, shaded route to a lake rather than a steep, rocky climb.
5. Use Leave No Trace principles and clean up after your pet just as you would yourself. Carry waste out with you or bury it in a hole that is at least 6 to 8 inches deep and disguise the spot. Be sure the hole is at least 200 feet from water sources, trails, shelters and campsites.
6. Don't bother wildlife or plant life. This is an easy one--just keep your pet on a leash and on the trail. Staying on the trail means you won't harm fragile and possibly threatened or endangered plant life. You'll also help prevent erosion, which will keep the trail open for others to enjoy hiking it longer.
By planning ahead and making sure that you are prepared for the hike, you and your four-legged friend can both enjoy exploring the great outdoors!