Spring is here and we’re all getting spring fever. Ready to be in the great outdoors? Good preparation is key to a happy and successful adventure with your family dog.
If your are camping… is there a water source for your dog? If not, make sure to include Fido in your plans because he is surely going to be on the go much more than he is at home and given the water shortages, there may be limited water in campgrounds and on backpacking trips. Know the signs of heat exhaustion. Ease into activities so your dog can acclimate herself. Bring portable water/feed bowls that can attach to your hip or backpack.
Make sure your dog is used to the car before you go on a long trip. Take lots of shorter trips in the weeks before travel. Make sure you have good training under her belt, so when you stop at a rest stop your dog is safe and won’t jump out of the car. If it’s hot and you have to leave your dog in the car for short periods, park in the shade even if it means walking a good distance to your destination. If it’s 90 degrees outside, it can warm up to 120 in about 5 minutes. Leave all four windows cracked so that there is ventilation and a water bowl in the car.
Make sure your dog is crate trained, that is comfortable in a crate for weeks before travel to help lessen anxiety. Don’t feed your dog before travel. You don’t want him to get sick in his crate and you don’t want her to have to go potty. You can feed when you arrive and fasting one meal is actually good for your dog. She’ll be much more comfortable. Make sure you have all the necessary health documents before you get to the airport. Arrive in time for one last potty break and ask if you can wait till the last possible minute to board your dog. Less time in the crate the better. Only book a non-stop flight. This will prevent the potential loss of your dog in switching flights, and less handling of the crate and less travel time.
Even if you hike regularly chances are the terrain is different than what your dog may be accustomed to. Beware of rocky trails and cuts on the pads of the feet. Make sure you have an extra leash in case you need to hoist him up a steep trail or help across a rushing stream/river. Bring first aid for you dog as well. Bring portable water/food bowls. Camelbak backpack has extra bladders for water that will fit inside with your own water bladder. Make sure dog has his current tags on in case he gets lost. Please make sure your dog has sufficient training under her belt, so she comes when you call and is well socialized with other dogs and won’t bother wildlife.
If you plan on having your dog pack his own food and water, be sure to do some trial runs at home for weeks before travel, so he can get used to the extra weight and learn how to balance on hills around trees and single track trails and swimming.
If your dog isn’t used to wildlife, you can all be in for quite an adventure. Most important is to have a trained dog. LEAVE IT is a good command to know because you can use it when she sees a deer, a cow, even a rattle snake. Know the habits of the wildlife in the area you will be traveling so there won’t be any surprises along the way. Know how far you are from the closest emergency vet and bring a first aid kit for your dog as well as yourself.
Many hotels allow dogs and have areas just for you pets. Check online and in books for dog friendly places.
Don’t leave your dog in the car overnight, even if you are close by. Bring him into your tent with you at night if you are camping. Even if your dog is used to the car, staying in a new place can have your dog be on alert and bark at every little sound keeping camping neighbors or hotel guests awake during the night. A barking dog will also invite other critters into the site like coyotes and wolves. If your dog is in your tent with you, you will be able to better manage him.
Don’t leave his food or water bowl out. This will invite raccoon, bear, deer and other wildlife to your campsite. Don’t leave food in your car either as this can still attract bear.
Bring extra bowls, leashes, food and water. You must always be prepared for anything when traveling.
Happy tails makes happy trails.