Having your best friend by your side while enjoying an outdoor adventure on the trail often elevates the entire experience of hiking, trail running, or mountain biking. Taking your dog with you on the trails also helps your canine companion get exercise and foster its own connection with the outdoors. Dog friendly hikes are readily available across the country and while the positives of heading to the trailhead with your dog will usually outweigh the negatives, there’s still plenty to keep in mind to enjoy the outdoors responsibly.ere are five tips for responsible outdoor recreation with your pooch.
- Read The Regulations
Different land management branches have different rules when it comes to dogs on the trails. Some Colorado parks, like Roxborough and Harvey Gap, do not allow dogs at all, while pets are allowed in all national forests, and in many national parks, although restrictions vary between each park. In Rocky Mountain National Park, pets are allowed at established campgrounds and picnic areas, along roadways and in parking lots, but not on trails, in order to preserve the wilderness of the park. More developed areas of recreation will also require your dog to be on a maximum six-foot-long leash, while backcountry areas on National Forest, Bureau of Land Management, or established wilderness land often allow you to have your dog off-leash. At local open space parks, in Boulder, for example, dog owners can acquire a voice and sight tag, showing that their dog is trained and will obey commands, and will allow the dog to be off-leash.
- Be Sensitive to Others
As hard as it is to believe, not everyone is comfortable around dogs, especially if they are off-leash. Make sure your dog is responsive to voice commands before heading into the outdoors with it. If you have your dog off its leash in a responsible area and see others coming up the trail, make sure to leash your dog so it doesn’t go up to greet them unwelcomed. If the other group is open to petting your dog or tells you otherwise, you can let it off-leash.
- Pick up the poo
The outdoors is not a place to leave your dog’s droppings. Make sure you have plenty of waste bags with you, pack them out of the forest, and dispose of them properly. Doggie bags left on the trails become the responsibility of the rangers tasked with monitoring the parks or trail systems, are an eyesore, and bad for the local environment.
- Be Wildlife Aware
Dogs are natural predators and prone to running after unfamiliar animals, whether that’s a bird, a deer, or something more dangerous like a moose. Keeping your wits about you and watching out for local wildlife can help prevent your dog from putting both itself, you, and the wild animal in danger. If you see something, make sure to leash your dog before it catches wind of it, and try to avoid the animal if it’s a potential threat or appears agitated.
- Bring Necessary Supplies
Just like us, our pets need food and water on the trail. Dogs are sometimes working twice as hard as we are out there, covering more ground, exploring, etc. Packing an extra water source, or a dog-specific water bottle, can ensure your companion doesn’t overheat in the summer sun, and extra treats can sustain its energy and lure it back to your side if it’s off-leash. If you’re planning on hiking something ultra-rocky and rugged with your dog, consider purchasing dog booties that can help protect its paws from sharp rocks. If you’re hiking in colder temperatures, there are plenty of companies producing special insulated garments for dogs to keep them warm. There are numerous pieces of dog hiking gear available to ensure your dog enjoys its time on the trail as much as you.