Planning on some hiking this summer? Why not take your dog?
Hiking is a great way to reconnect with both nature and your dog. In fact Knox County has some great trails that you can try out right in your backyard, including House Mountain and Ijams Nature Center. To enjoy the safety of your furry companion, be sure that you have taken care of the Ten Canine Essentials:
1. Obedience training. Before you set foot on a trail, make sure your dog is trained and can be trusted to behave when faced with other hikers, other dogs, wildlife and an assortment of strange scents and sights in the backcountry. If he can’t behave, don’t take him hiking.
2. Doggy backpack (for longer hikes). Let the dog carry his own gear. Dogs can be trained to carry gear in their backpacks, but, to avoid developmental problems, don’t put packs on dogs younger than a year old.
3. Basic first aid kit. The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends a checklist of items for your dog’s first aid kit. The Red Cross also offers classes in pet first aid.
4. Dog food and trail treats. You should pack more food than your dog normally consumes because he will be burning more calories than normal, and if you do end up having to spend an extra night out there, you need to keep the pup fed, too. Trail treats serve the same purpose for the dog as they do for you—quick energy and a pick-me-up during a strenuous day of hiking.
5. Water and water bowl. Don’t count on there being water along the trail for the dog. Pack enough extra water to meet all your dog’s drinking needs.
6. Leash and collar, or harness. Even if your dog is absolutely trained to voice command and stays at heel without a leash, sometimes leashes are required by law or just by common courtesy, so you should have one handy at all times.
7. Insect repellent. Be aware that some animals, and some people, have strong negative reactions to certain insect repellents. So, before leaving home, dab a little repellent on a patch of your dog’s fur to see your dog’s reaction to it. Look for signs of drowsiness, lethargy or nausea. Remember to restrict repellent applications to those places the dog can’t lick—the shoulders, the back of the neck, and around the ears (staying well clear of the ears and inner ears)—which are also near the most logical places mosquitoes will be looking for exposed skin (at the eyes, nose, and inner ears) to bite. And don’t forget to check your dog’s entire body for ticks, foxtails and other trail troublemakers after your hike.
8. ID tags and picture identification. Your dog should always wear ID tags, and since a dog lost in the woods can lose his or her collar, I’d heartily recommend microchipping her as well. Carry a photo of your dog in your pack. If your dog gets lost far from home, you can use the image to make flyers to post in the surrounding communities.
9. Dog booties. These help protect the dog’s feet from rough ground or harsh vegetation. They also keep bandages secure if the dog damages its pads.
10. Compact roll of plastic bags and trowel. You’ll need the bags to clean up after your dog on popular trails. When conditions warrant, you can use the trowel to take care of your dog’s waste. Just pretend you are a cat—dig a small hole six to eight inches deep in the forest duff, deposit the dog waste, and fill in the hole.
Happy trails to you and your dog!
Credit: The Bark