How to Safely Explore with Your Dog
A few weekends ago my husband and I took the dogs on a day hike. We got ready in the morning, packing our day pack wtih snacks, protein, water, etc. But what about our dogs? They need supplies too! So here are the top ten things we bring or prepare to help our pups out.
1) Water and collapsable bowl. Regardless of the weather, we always bring a lot of water. Between the two dogs they can drink more than a gallon of water while we are out during the day (depending on the intensity of our hike/play). We leave the big jug in the car and fill a couple nalgenes to pack in our bag. As far as bowls go...there are many styles and sizes out there. We found something that collapses small and is big enough for our large dogs. It took a few tries but we finally found ones we like!
2) Protein bars. Ridiculous you say? You bring them for yourself? Why not your dogs too? They are working hard too! We like the wellness protein bars, the ingredients are high value and they are light.
3) First aid kit. We have a small first aid kit with canine friendly supplies like benadryl, stretch gauze, hydrogen peroxide, etc that we will take with us. We haven't had to use it yet (thank goodness!!!). But if we ever need it, we will have it.
4) Towels. It is inevitable that a fun day will lead to dirty dogs. So, we bring some towels to dry them off if we need or to line the back seats of the car. Or both!
5) Heartworm and flea/tick medication. Heartworms are a problem year round. And unfortunately, the lack of freezing over the winter means that the fleas and ticks are problematic too. I always make sure the dogs are up to date so that we can explore safely!
6) 6 foot leash. Shorter leashes keep your dog under control and close to you, which prevents them from encountering dangerous wildlife or plants. We keep our dogs on short leashes while on the trails... it is respectful for others because not all people or dogs like other dogs! (See our other post on leash etiquitte).
7) Flexi leads. I normally do not recommend flexi or extendable leashes for any situation... but they are GREAT for swimming! The lines are long so the pups can go further away from us and they also stay out of the water so they do not get stuck on any trees or plants. So, if we see a part of the trail that the pups can explore in a creek or lake, we will exchange the 6 foot leashes for the flexi leads so they can go "be dogs".
8) Clicker and treats. If I have a young dog or a dog that needs some training I always bring a clicker and treats. If the park or trail ends up being busier than I thought, it is a GREAT training opportunity!
9) Dog booties. If we are hiking on really rough surfaces, I may even bring some booties. They protect the dogs' feet and prevent injury. It also protects their feet from hot surfaces.
10) Collar with tags. Many people do not have tags on their dog's collar (although I have no idea why!). Although, if you are far away from home in a new place like a park or on hiking trails, and something happens, what if your dog accidentally gets away? Your dog will not be able to find his/her way back! If someone else catches your dog nearby they will be able to call you and return your dog!
These are just a few things we bring for them. It helps us prepare for any uncertain situations we may encounter. Sometimes we carry their supplies and sometimes they carry it themselves. Each exploration is different, but bringing everything we needs helps us relax because we are prepared.
What if you don't hike? Well, these things are great to have handy for walks in the parks and even day trips to the lake! When you leave the house with your furry friend, be prepared!
Here is my husband, Tyler, with our dog Jude at the top of Brasstown Bald. On this excursion we had Jude carry a pack of their supplies.
Here we are together. Me and Tyler with Lucy and Jude. The views were amazing and they were loving the cool North Georgia fall weather! Good times for us and our dogs.