DESPITE A PROLIFERATION OF DOG OWNERSHIP, FIDO IS OFTEN RESTRICTED TO THE SIDEWALK OR CAMPGROUND. MOST NATIONAL PARKS EXCLUDE THEM FROM ANY ACTIVITIES AND SOMETIMES THEY ARE BANNED IN SENSITIVE NATURAL AREAS.
Always check local rules before venturing out on new explorations, but try to follow these guidelines:
- Keep his vaccinations up-to-date.
- Keep him leashed at all times and step off the trail when you see other hikers (remember, some folks are very leery of dogs, no matter how friendly the dog may be). Leashes protect your pet from getting lost or getting into dangerous hiking situations.
- Avoid harassment of wildlife.
- Some of the wilder parts of America contain unprotected cultural sites. Do not allow your pet in any of these fragile treasures.
- Prevent access to any natural water sources; most dogs love the water, but contaminate it for the rest of us.
- Leave a noisy pet at home; many visitors of remote areas are looking for solitude and quiet.
- Bury pet waste in a shallow hole away from trails, campsites and natural water sources; better yet, take it out, if at all possible. Leave no trace!
- Be aware of your pet’s hiking ability. Take your dog on several short training hikes, before doing an extended hike. Watch for signs of fatigue and rest when needed.
- Take care of his paws. Fido’s feet are his lifeline in the backcountry. Check regularly for burrs that are caught in his paws.
- Avoid hiking with in extreme heat (a dog is more susceptible to heat exhaustion and sand can quickly burn the pads of his paws).
- Hiking at a high elevation needs a few days of acclimatizing for both you AND your pet.
- Carry as much water for yourself as for your pooch and carry a lightweight water bowl.
- Pets are susceptible to water borne bacteria; during and after your trip, watch for signs of intestinal distress.
- Carry a pet first aid kit.