Traveling With Dogs: 6 Must-Dos for Pet Owners to Create a Positive Experience in the Great Outdoors by Cassandra Conyers

5 years ago

Summer’s warm days beckon me to hit the road with my best four-legged friend. Each year I plan at least two road trips where I take my dog on a “mini-break,” staying at dog-friendly resorts. Many have trails or we hit up a nearby state or national park for easy hikes. Over time I have learned some important things to ensure my dog has a safe and comfortable time outdoors. If you plan to take your dog onto country or wilderness trails, remember these six tips:

Photo: On trail in Olympic National Park

  • Before you go, confirm that shots are current, especially if you have a young dog or puppy. And there is another vaccination many vets are recommending that's for the Lepto virus or Leptospirosis. This is a serious disease that’s on the rise. If there’s a chance your dog could lick or step in areas where wild animals have urinated or defecated, you should take heed. Talk with your vet and decide what’s best for you and your dog. The video will give you more information.
  • Out on the trail, be sure to leash and harness your pet. Many state and national parks require you to leash your dog on the trails and no going off-trail. It is a lot easier to restrain your dog if already leashed when suddenly startled or wants to tear off after catching wind of a critter. And if your dog is a barker, you might consider using a muzzle to help control outbursts. You don’t want to surprise any wildlife you discover.

Photo: A trail on Bainbridge Island

  • Bring water and a collapsable dishPack enough water for you and your dog, and bring along a water dish to make it easy to keep your dog hydrated. Don’t let your dog drink water from risky sources like ponds or streams. Many animals, including infected ones, drink from those natural sources, too.
  • Bring a disposal bag for waste. Respecting the trails and other hikers means packing out your dog’s poop. I know I don’t like my dog to sniff or step in another dog’s waste, trying to avoid my dog catching any disease and ailments another dog might pass along. And I want to be a good trail mate to the other hikers by being responsible.

Photo: On top of Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park 

  • Use dog hiking booties. If your hike includes hot, rocky trails, protect your dog’s pads with canine hiking booties. They are especially helpful if you are planning to hike in high desert areas or the Southwest states.
  • After your hike, do a once-over. Examine your dog to see if it has picked up any freeloaders like ticks or received any insect bites. Check between the pads to see if any little stones are stuck. Then give your pet a brush out to get rid of loose dirt, nettles or bits of foliage that could make your dog itchy and scratchy. Once you’re done, your dog will feel so refreshed and is likely lay down for a good, restful nap.

Photo: On trail along Puget Sound, West Seattle

Keeping the outdoors fun for our furry best friends is the goal.

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Elisa Schmitz
Awesome post, Cassandra Conyers ! Excellent perspective on bringing along our beloved pups, and keeping them healthy and safe in the process. I love your fab photos, too! What adventures you two have taken!! :-)

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