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Saturday, October 11, 2014

Hiking with Dogs Safely

by Carrie Boyko, CEB

Mom! Can I explore?
Nothing inspires me more than nature. During our hiking trip to the Blue Ridge Parkway, we found lots of reasons to be inspired, but sometimes the result was more of a photo opp than an exploration. Both Oliver and I exhibited a need to check out these curious spaces, but safety ruled and we had to stick with a photo and move on. Sort of a bummer, but when you're out on a trail there's no one but you to offer first aid. Better to play it safe than meet a Rattlesnake inside that log.

Along the trails there were many places I wanted to veer off the beaten path to see something I heard, smelled or thought I saw. During that 2 week trip we saw Bear, Deer, Fox, Rabbit, Turkey and countless other birds that I can't identify.
Hiking? This was a Climbing Adventure!
Sometimes the adventurer wasn't Oliver. Sometimes it was me. Climbing this tree root maze was fun for me. But I'll admit that getting down was a bit tenuous. Maybe next time I'll simply take a photo in front of it? Well, probably not. But it's a good idea to consider. I just have these tree climbing urges that are hard to overcome. My childhood memories beckon. Go figure!

Here are a few things we learned about hiking safety that I'd like to add to my other recent posts:

  • Watch your dog's nosework. You don't want it finding a red ant pile, snake hole or other critter that could do him harm. Carry Benedryl for a quick proactive treatment in case of a bite. Use a mosquito repellant if you're hiking in the warm weather months. There are lots of non-toxic versions available that work well.
  • Curb your own urges to explore off the path. I'm guilty, but I'll put my name on the Adventurers Anonymous membership and ask you to join me if you're a little over the top also. Be careful!
  • Take care with the photo opps. Slippery? Skip the pose and get a shot of the natural beauty in the background. We found lots of areas where rocks, tree roots and mud were treacherous. Pay close attention for your own safety as well as your dog's.
  • No matter how much of a momma's boy your dog is, don't release the leash. It wouldn't take much to have him bolting through the underbrush after who knows what. And that critter he's chasing may bite, fight, or scratch. Have no mercy on the leash grip.
  • Natural rock steps along some of the hiking paths were growing algae, fungi, and lichen. All these growths were slippery when wet, and some were not easily seen. Don't leave your glasses behind, and DO watch everything you step on for that telltale sheen that could mean you'll go flying if you don't take care.
  • Be alert for other hikers and their dogs. Not all will be happy to greet your dog, so maintain the quiet of the forest and move along without much ado when an aloof attitude is approaching.
  • I can't stress enough how important it is to pack water, a snack (power bars for you
    and Fido
    ; more here.) and a first aid kit. Mosquito repellant is also important during the season for these blood suckers. We recommend trying one of the non-toxic versions made with various types of natural oils--much better for you and your dog. Do get your vet's approval before using any product made for humans on your dog's coat. Better safe than sorry.
Keeping safety in mind will assure your adventure will be a bonding one that you'll both remember for years to come. Now, go take a hike!

Happy hiking,

Wondering where the Doga modifications series went? We'll be back with more ways to increase your succes, starting next Saturday, October 18. The pose we'll focus on next week will be Child's Pose, one of my favorites for relaxing and calming the mind. You'll love the way Tanner and Oliver interact with me, so be sure to stop by. Meanwhile, you can find all the other Doga posts, videos, modifications and tips at this link.

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