Hiking with your dog? Here 8 things you need to know for a successful dog day on the trail.
On Leash – No Excuses!
That actually means that you are physically holding onto a leash that is attached to the dog. A “verbal leash” doesn’t count.
Fines for off-leash dogs vary from $115.00- up to 2000.00 and repeat offences can lead to a ban from all parks, as well as a court appearance. As a matter of fact, in April 2016 a women was fined $1,000 for repeat offences of having her dog off leash in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park.
The National and Provincial Parks have been set aside to protect the natural ecosystems and the plants and animals within those ecosystems. A dog running off-leash can cause a lot of damage to sensitive grasslands, plants and flowers. Keeping your dog on leash also reduces any risk of injury to your dog from wildlife, such as porcupines, deer, elk, skunks or coyotes.
Pick It Up and Pack It Out!
Putting the poop in a dog bag is the first step, carrying it out is the second step.
Dog poop can be a source of food for bears, coyotes, and other dogs (mine included). It is gross, I know, but the dog food that we feed our dogs is very high in protein, and not all of the protein gets absorbed before the dog passes it – bears are opportunistic feeders, all it takes is once for the bear to figure out that Fido’s poop isn’t all that bad.
Dog poop does not readily decompose, it can carry harmful parasites, and it adds additional nitrogen that can encourage the growth of noxious weeds.
3. Dogs May Be Seen As A Threat Or Prey By Animals
This past winter, an off leash dog chased a moose in Kananaskis country, which put the moose under a lot of stress.
In the winter, the moose in K-Country are notorious for licking the salt off of parked cars. Several years ago, we snowshoed the Sawmill Creek trail in Kananaskis. We had Dakota with us, as usual he was on-leash, which was a good thing, as there was a moose standing in the trees deciding which car she was going to “clean”.
Smaller animals, like squirrels, chipmunks and mice are also in danger of being injured or eaten by an off-leash dog.
Off-leash dogs may be seen as prey and could attract some very unwanted attention from a bear, cougar or coyote.
If your off-leash dog did come across a bear, chances are your dog will come running back to you, , potentially with a 300lb, very angry, black bear chasing it! FYI….a bear can run 60 km/hour!
4. Not All People Like Dogs, And Not All Dogs Like Each Other.
My dog, Dakota, loves everyone, but he can’t understand why some humans just want to walk by without acknowledging him!
When I come across another group of hikers, I let them know that Dakota is friendly. Most of the time the other hikers I meet on the trail are ok with dogs, but there have been times when the other party has indicated that either their dog isn’t friendly, or that a member of their party isn’t comfortable around dogs. In those situations, I stop and ask, “what do you need me to do”. Sometimes it means that I get off the tail, and wait for the people and other dog to pass, other times it means the other party waits for me to pass. But I NEVER assume that it is okay to just walk by.
If you know that your dog has a tendency to be “bossy” with other dogs, or people, perhaps pick less popular trails, or hike on off-times.
5. Leave Your Dog At Home If It Is Too Hot And Humid
Remember, your dog is wearing a fur coat!
Dogs expend more energy in a short amount of time, so they get hot and dehydrated faster than humans. The larger the dog, the higher their core temperature.
On a very hot, humid day, even a well shaded trail can offer little comfort to a furry dog.
Alternatively, hike with your dog during the cooler parts of the day: first thing in the morning or later in the evening.
6. Pack Water and a Drink Bowl for Your Dog
Not all trails are within close proximity to water, Ha Ling Peak and Mt. Lady Macdonald in Canmore are two trails that I regularly see dogs on, neither of these trails have water along them and both are high altitude hikes that are exposed to sun and wind. I have seen many tired, and exhausted pooches on both these trails.
When you pack your water, pack some extra for your dog. In addition, pack a collapsible dog bowl, or something, that they can drink from – dogs can’t drink from cupped hands very easily.
7. Pack Doggy Treats
Your dog is also working to get up those trails, bring him some extra doggy trail mix as well.
8. Know Doggy First Aid
The most common dog injuries are cut paws and insect bites. Many of the supplies that you have in your first aid kit can also be used for your dog: guaze bandages, guaze sponges, adhesive tape, antiseptic lotion.