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Tips for Taking Your Dog on the Trail

Summer’s here! That means road trips and camping and breaking out the hiking boots for some outdoor fun. While it’s easy to take your pup for a walk in the local park, taking him to a campground or on a hike requires more planning. Follow this guide to make your time roughing it fun and easy.

Rules and Regulations
National, state and regional parks all have different rules about whether dogs are allowed, so always check online or call ahead to make sure your pup is welcome. Rules concerning leashes also vary, but you will typically need to keep Fido on a six-foot leash while on the trail. You might bring a longer leash so your pup can explore your campsite without fear of him running after a deer or disturbing neighboring campers. Even if a leash is optional, unless your dog is trained extremely well, you should consider keeping him leashed for safety.

Plan Ahead
Are you taking a trip to a rocky desert region, cold mountains, or thickly-forested coast? Keep in mind what the weather and terrain will be like, as well as the length of your trip, so you can plan accordingly. If you’ll be traveling over rough terrain or for a long time, make sure your furry friend is up to the challenge. And don’t forget to make sure your pup is up to date on all his shots and treatments before you set out.

Pack Your Bags
No matter where you go, you will need to pack water, food and a first-aid kit. Even if you are traveling near a river, bring some safe water for your pooch to drink as bacteria can easily contaminate water in the wild, and we all know our dogs will drink just about anything! Bring along enough food and treats for the length of your trip (and make sure to seal it up in an airtight or bear-safe container if you’re camping overnight). And don’t forget collapsible bowls for both. In your first-aid kit, bring along self-adhesive bandages, gauze, antiseptic, adhesive tape, scissors, splints, tick removal tweezers and/or medicine and a flashlight.

Outfitting Your Dog
If your dog is willing, you can get him to even carry his own supplies. As a general rule, your dog can carry 20 percent of his own weight (so if your pooch weighs 60 pounds, he can haul a 12-pound pack), but this will vary from dog to dog. If your dog has never carried a load before, be sure to take him with you to the store to get fitted and find the right pack. It’s also wise to bring along some dog booties in case of frozen, hot or rocky ground (or a paw injury). Lighted collars are also convenient and provide extra safety when hiking after the sun goes down.

Overnight Considerations
If you’re spending the night, be sure to bring your pup a bed or pad to sleep on—maybe even his own sleeping bag if it will be cold. You can also bring a few toys to play with in the tent or once you make camp.


Kacie Galloway

Kacie Galloway is a writer and adventurer from the great state of Texas. She says yes to just about anything and is always finding stories to tell. You can typically find her in a coffee shop, on a forested trail, planning a road trip or playing on the floor with her miniature Goldendoodle, Shiloh.

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