Photo of Golden Retriever dog playing in the creek.

Spring has Sprung!

by Kris Phillips

Take a hike!

hiking3The weather is warming up, the flowers are blooming. Spring is here! If you’ve followed me on Facebook you have probably seen more than one shot of my favorite activity, hiking.
We are fortunate to live in a place with abundant trails for hikers of all levels. And taking the dogs means bonus time with them. Taking a hike has a lot of bonuses for otherwise housebound pets. There is a whole world of new sights and smells to be appreciated on your average hike. And of course the exercise is great. But before you head out into the wild make sure your prepared.

hiking-0015I always hike with a backpack stocked with “just in case” supplies.
-pet first aid kit
-extra socks
-a lighter (waterproof matches would be good too)
-extra boot laces
-doggie boots, baby socks work well too and they are cheaper.

-Meal bars, I try to carry bars with dog friendly ingredients like peanut butter. Avoid bars with chocolate and raisins just in case you want to share with your furry friends.
– a windbreaker. You never know when the weather can turn.

-and of course plenty of water for myself and the dogs.

Pick your trail based on your & Fido’s fitness and experience. There are a few great websites which offer directions and reviews. Day Hikes Near Denver is a great site with a lot of info.
hiking4Hiking is amazing for the mind and body, and not just yours. Dogs rarely get to venture beyond familiar territory. Even if you take them for frequent walks you probably cover the same ground over and over. Heading to the mountains gives your dog a chance to see new things and smell new smells. Good for anyone’s mental health. If you can, hike with a buddy. Especially if your new to hiking. Make sure to tell someone where your going and when you plan to return. Odds are fair your cell won’t work if your in the mountains. And rescue is more likely if officials have somewhere to start looking.
Don’t forget there’s nature out there. Never approach wild animals. And its a good idea to keep your dog on a leash too. I am a big fan of adjustable & hands free leashes. If I’m heading into unknown or difficult terrain I also keep harnesses on both dogs. I am a big fan of hiking near waterfalls. hiking2They offer amazing views but also treacherous terrain. On more than one occasion we have ended up in a 3-point climbing situation. And having a harness on the dogs allows us to support and protect them up difficult climbs. This kind of climbing with your dogs is not for the faint of heart or the beginner. I have spent years creating a bond that allows them to trust me to hoist them up a rock surface. If your dog panics they could easily fall and take you down with them. I also recommend teaching your dog two commands: Go & Wait. In an ideal world your dog should heal at your side but if you are on a tight trail that may not be safe or even possible. By the same token you don’t want your dog pulling you down a steep trail. So when climbing over boulder I use “GO” to tell them to find their own path over the rocks, and “Wait” when I need them to stand patiently so I can scramble down behind them. 

bbqYou might also want to consider flea &tick preventative, even if you don’t normally worry about fleas. Ticks carry a whole host of yucky diseases and they’re more common in the deep grasses on the side of the trail. Consider getting your dog vaccinated against leptosporosys. Its a microorganism that animals can pick up from drinking contaminated water. Dogs usually get it after coming in contact with wild animals pee.

It can also be a great way to spend some quality time with your two legged family. On rare occasion that Robbie and I have a free day together we love to pack some steaks and corn on the cob, load the dogs in the truck and head west. A couple hours on our favorite trail followed by a BBQ when we get back to the trail head(in a designated pit of course).

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