The notion of dogs being man’s best friend does not stop at the front door; it extends to anywhere you can bring your furry friend, which can include the great outdoors.
While dog parks are a fun way to enjoy nature and get a dog some exercise, they can also come along on camping and hiking adventures. However, a dog is not a human, and taking them to the great outdoors requires specific prep for not only having a good time, but also having a safe one.
When looking to go camping with a pet, the first thing to do is look up pet-friendly campgrounds. Each campground will have different rules, for example, Linville Falls Campground, RV Park and Cabins has a one pet max with a fee, while Blue Bear Mountain Camp in Todd has no pet fee and allows more pets.
According to outdoor equipment company REI, a dog should be a constant companion, keeping it with you at all times to not potentially disrupt the wildlife or other campers. It is also a good idea to only bring food out during meals, as to not teach wildlife that a campground is a place to hang out for food.
At night, the dog should sleep in the tent with you, and a doggie bed will give to them what your sleeping back gives to you. If you’re planning to bring a dog camping, grab a tent that’ll accommodate all of the humans, plus one more. According to REI, some backyard camping can help them get accustomed to the sleeping arrangement.
When bringing a dog hiking, many of the rules with camping also apply, but there are additional things to look out for. Before heading out to the trails, visit a veterinarian to make sure the dog is physically ready to go hiking, make sure its immune system is ready for it and check if it needs any specific vaccinations or medications first.
It is also not advised to bring puppies, according to REI, since they can’t carry a load and are still developing their immune systems.
Like with campgrounds, it is a good idea to check ahead and see if the trail allows dogs, and more importantly is suitable for dogs at all. It is also important that dogs, like humans, leave no trace, so bring bags to pickup after them.
When hiking, dogs can wear a dog pack to help carry some of their essentials.
REI recommends first making sure it fits snugly, but will not restrict them in any way, before having the dog wear it empty around the house or on walks to get them used to it. Many of them will have handles on top, which can be useful for keeping them close during trail encounters and crossing water.
Something else they will have to get used to using before hiking are booties, which will protect their paws from sharp rocks, thorns and snow. Bringing spare booties can also be helpful, as they can come off and get lost.
Food and water will also be essential for your pet, but how much to bring will vary. The size of the dog, how active they are and the weather are all things that need to be taken into account when deciding how much to pack. At the same time, if you need to take a break for food, water or just to catch your breath, chances are your dog does too. The best resource for an idea of how much to pack will be the dog’s vet.
While they may not be much for conversation, a pet coming along on an outdoor adventure can be one more piece of a memory made in the High Country.