Take A Hike…And Take Your Dog With You!

posted April 12th, 2015 by
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Take a Hike

Take A Hike…And Take Your Dog With You!

 

By Anna Holton-Dean

 

Crisp, cool fall months are the perfect time to enjoy some outdoor activities that were otherwise treacherous in the sweltering summer heat. Hiking is at the top of our fall must-do list, and the best part is many nearby hiking trails allow your dog to come along for the fun. On-leash, of course, it can be the perfect fall activity to enjoy with your pet.

However, before any activity, do your homework, ensuring your pet is ready for a hike. Considerations would include breed type, length and thickness of coat, age and endurance. A smashed face breed will overheat more quickly than a dog with a longer snout, as will a dog with a longer, thicker coat.

“Do check into your breed’s history and ask your veterinarian before taking your dog for a hike,” Nancy Gallimore, certified professional dog trainer (CPDT-KA), advises. “I had a guy who took his new shelter/rescue dog for a five-mile run, and the dog collapsed.” Just as a person must work up to that type of distance and endurance, so must a pet. Knowing your pet’s fitness level and limitations is a must.

Gallimore, co-owner of Pooches Place, has been hiking with dogs for over 12 years and training dogs for 20 years (professionally certified for seven years). She and Lawanna Smith, also a CPDT-KA and co-owner of Pooches Place, offer up some expert advice for anyone contemplating hiking with a pet:

Be sure to choose a dog-friendly trail, and do not take your dog to hike a trail if you are unfamiliar with it. This article includes  insight and advice on five area trails which allow dogs.

No matter where you choose to hike, keep your dog on a leash. “Even the best trained dogs may take off after a squirrel or deer,” Gallimore says.

If not hiking locally and traveling to a different region, consider the altitude difference and carry your dog’s vaccination records with you.

Fall temperatures should be pleasant, but always be aware of the temp. “Your dog does not sweat like you do,” Gallimore says. “So carry fresh water for your dog. If he starts to lag behind, stop. Learn the signs of heat exhaustion.”

In relation to fresh water, also do not let your dog drink from ponds or standing/ stagnant water for risk of parasites or bacteria. Also, supervise carefully that he doesn’t eat anything along the trail.

Buy dog-safe sunscreen if your pooch has thin hair and pink skin. Dogs can burn too!

Make sure your dog has flea/tick prevention, and check your dog for fleas/ ticks/stickers/burrs after a hike.

Pay attention to the trail’s surface. Make sure it won’t harm paws, and check the dog’s paws throughout the hike. “You get blisters, so can your dog,” Gallimore says. “Inspect pads and between pads carefully after a hike. If the temps are too hot or too cold, check the trail surface to be sure it’s not going to burn or be too cold on exposed paws.”

Do not hike in wilderness areas at dusk/ after dusk. “This is the time of day coyotes and other predators come out,” Gallimore says. “Your dog may attract the attention of predators.” Furthermore, “know the wildlife you may encounter in the area. Even deer can be aggressive during certain times of year. Raccoons, skunks, etc., can be a threat.”

Carry a first aid kit with you, asking your vet for advice on what to keep in it in case of injury, snake bite or allergic reaction to bug bites, etc.

Always carry your cell phone in case of emergency.

Area Pet-Friendly Hiking Trails

Kent Frates, co-author of “Oklahoma Hiking Trails” suggests Lake Thunderbird State Park in Norman and Arcadia Lake Trail near Edmond as dog-friendly hiking trails, in that the terrain and environment should be the most accommodating. These are the best options for hiking newbies, including pets new to hiking too.

Of course, Turkey Mountain in the heart of Tulsa is another good option. Frates cautions it is hilly but should be doable for most dogs. If your dog is up for some hills (no pun intended), he will probably enjoy the hike. Gallimore suggests early morning hikes to avoid bikers on Turkey Mountain who can appear in a flash, and you will have to quickly move your dog out of harm’s way.

Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Indiahoma also welcomes pets on-leash, but the terrain is a little rough. For dogs with hiking experience and endurance, this trail would offer a welcomed challenge.

The Trail at Keystone Lake allows dogs, but the terrain is rocky with some elevation, and you may encounter ticks or chiggers which could be a problem, Frates says. Should you accept this challenge, go prepared with the necessary items and plan.

More Oklahoma hiking trails we should know about? Let us know on our Facebook page or via Twitter @tulsapetsmag. For more hiking tips and info, check out  “Oklahoma Hiking Trails” by Kent Frates and Larry Floyd, available for purchase from Amazon.com.

While there are many considerations, hiking can be a great outdoor activity for you and your dog. A little homework and forethought can go a long way toward creating a new healthy hobby to benefit both person and pet.

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