Everybody loves the trails and who better to explore the great outdoors with than your four-legged friend? Dogs are like family and nobody should get left behind when the family heads out to their favorite trail. Hiking is a great experience for both you and your dogs alike. Although it might seem easy to just throw you new exploring buddy on a leash and head out, here are some easy steps to keep you and your pup safe on your next adventure!
• Vaccination- The first step to ensure your pet stays safe is t ensure that they are caught up on all shots and vaccinations to avoid any unwanted illness or disease.
• ID Tags- Nobody ever expects to lose their dog on a trail but trust me, one squirrel and a loose leash and you never know what can happen. This is why you should always make sure to keep your dogs tags updated with all of the required information if they were to get lost!
• Food and Water- Dogs, just like humans, need food and water especially when exercising on long trails. Always ensure to carry ample water and snacks for both you and Fido!
• First Aid- Unfortunately, accidents happen and what works for you doesn’t always work for your fuzzy friend. So, pack some extra pet friendly first aid to be safe! Don’t know what to bring? Check out: https://www.calgaryhumane.ca/diy-canine-first-aid-kit/ for more info on how to make your own DIY Pet First Aid Kit!
• Leash- This one sound obvious but before your trek into nature, ensure that your pets leash fits properly so they cannot escape, is adjusted to size, and is not harming the dog.
• Research to ensure dog friendly trail- Not all trails are pet friendly and allow fuzzy friends on them, be sure to do your research beforehand to know the best spots! Check out: https://sasktrails.ca/best-online-trail-resources-to-checkout-before-your-next-hike/ to find some resources to lead you to pet friendly trails!
• Weather- Its finally summer and we are all basking in the sun! We love the sun, but our four-legged friends DO NOT sweat the same way humans do to cool themselves off. Too high of a temperature and too much sun can be dangerous for you animals. This means cloudy days or times when its not as hot are much better for your pet! Tip: If walking on a paved trail in the heat, place the back of your hand on the asphalt for 5 seconds. If it is too hot for you, it is too hot for your dog!
• Etiquette- Many dogs are human and dog friendly, but many are not. Just because another puppy looks nice doesn’t mean they can’t or won’t bite. We want the best for our animals and that includes avoiding any accidents. Make sure to always avoid any other animals or humans on the trail unless everyone agrees it is okay. One accident could get pets banned from your favorite trail, so stay safe!
• Regulation- If it turns out, you and your pup share your love for the trails, you still have to first make sure that each trail you hike allows dog. Various trails have different rules and regulations regarding pets, leash requirements and other pet specific rules. Make sure to check the signs and any online resources to make sure that the trail is pet friendly!
• Clean-Up Bags- We want to make sure the trail just like it was before we got there. We also don’t want to be scrapping dog duty from our shoes. Remember to bring a few clean up bags to pick up after any puppy surprises!
• Stay On trail- Some of the best hidden views and sceneries require some off-trail adventuring, yet for the sake of you pets stay on the trail. Tall grass hides ticks, sticks, and other potential dangers to your dog’s paw pads that can be easily avoided by staying on the path!
• Rest and Break (Shade)- unfortunately dogs and humans cannot talk, but dogs get tired and hot too and often don’t have a way of telling you. Like I mentioned before, dogs cannot sweat like humans to cool down. For this reason, make sure to take some breaks and walk in the shade when possible to avoid any meltdowns!
• Be aware of signs- Always check up on your dog to ensure their tales still wagging and they are plenty hydrated. Periodic breaks to check paw pads is also suggested, be aware of any large tearing in the paw pads. Smaller cracks on a dogs paw pads is normal but when it starts to have larger tears, be safe and head back.
• Ticks- We all know ticks are the hitchhiker we never asked to come with but they did anyways. Carefully check your furry friend from top to bottom (Including paws) for any uninvited guests.
• Plenty of Water- Congratulations on getting out onto the trails. I am sure you and your best friend has a blast! Now its time for both of you to hydrate up and recover from the sun and heat!
These Tips and Tricks should ensure you and your best friend stay safe and get the most out of your exploration through the Saskatchewan trails! Not every preparation step may apply to you, but this is a good first step to ensuring you and your dogs’ safety on the trails! Now get out there and soak up everything mother nature has to offer with your new hiking buddy by your side!