Best practices for camping and hiking with your dog
Hiking and camping is fun, but doing it with your dog is even better. Having your canine companion trekking along with you on the trail or sleeping beside you in a tent in the wilderness makes a great experience even more special.
To be sure your nature experience with your dog goes smoothly; here are some things you should keep in mind.
Park Rules. Before you head out on your hike, find out if dogs are allowed. Most national parks do not allow dogs on wilderness trails. Some state and regional parks ban dogs all together. National forests usually allow dogs. Rules about whether dogs are permitted can usually be found on park or forest websites.
Leash Manners. Most trails require dogs be leashed, so be sure your dog walks well on the leash before you take him on a hike. If he’s a medium to large sized dog and he likes to pull, consider taking him to an obedience class where he can learn to walk nicely on leash. Otherwise, you’ll spend hours on the trail being pulled on, which will ruin your hike. You could also end up injured if your dog pulls on your while you’re walking up or down a steep trail.
Conditioning. Your dog should be in good physical health before you take him on a hike. If he’s got arthritis, is overweight or has any other health issues, have your vet check him out before you take him on a hike.
Sustenance. Before you head out on the trail, pack plenty of water and some dog treats for your four-legged hiker. Bring a portable water bowl so you can offer him water along the way. You may even want to buy him his own canine backpack so he can carry his own treats.
Trail Manners. While hiking with your dog, keep him close to you when you pass other hikers. Don’t allow him to approach other people and dogs unless you have permission. Some people are afraid of dogs, and some dogs don’t like other dogs. Don’t allow your dog to harass wildlife, either. Remember that you and your dog are a guest in their home.
Good Behavior. Before you take your dog to a campsite, make sure he has good manners. He should be free from aggression toward other dogs and people, and should come when you call him.
Restraint. Don’t assume it will be OK to let your dog run loose at a campground. Be prepared to keep him on leash at all times, or attached to a tie-out that is staked in the ground. Don’t allow him to harass wildlife at your camping spot or in the neighboring wilderness.
Packing. Remember to bring everything your dog will need while you’re on your camping trip. His usual dog food and some treats, along with his bed and a favorite toy will go a long way to making sure your dog is comfortable while you’re away from home.
About the Author: Audrey Pavia is an award-winning freelance writer and author of “The Labrador Retriever Handbook.” She is a former staff editor of Dog Fancy, Dog World and The AKC Gazette magazines. To learn more about her work, visit www.audreypavia.com and hollywoodhoofbeats.net/