This past weekend Rob and I finally got a chance to take both dogs hiking. Even though we have two very outdoor capable canines (a three year old Siberian Husky and a seven month old Alaskan Malamute), we had always been hesitant up to this point to take both. One dog (especially Yuri) can be a lot to handle and throwing a puppy into the mix is always interesting. Regardless, we picked a rainy quiet day and made our way to Pack Monadnock (Miller State Park) in Peterborough, NH.
Surprisingly… it went well. In fact, it went awesome. Yuri (formerly a feral rescue dog from Mississippi) was just happy to be outside with his pack and Kina was an oddly well behaved puppy who got to work on her off leash training. They got entirely soaked, muddy, and the backseat of my car will never be the same – but it was a great few hours.
The experience got me thinking though about the many conversations I’ve had with people about dogs, etiquette, and the great outdoors. While there are countless rules and opinions out there, here are the basics we follow:
Be in control.
As much as I love the wild look on my dog’s faces when we let them off leash to run freely, it’s important that we are always able to control (via lead or verbal commands) what they do and where they go. A lot of people assume this is for other human’s safety, but it’s not just that. It’s for our pups too. The last thing we need is Yuri getting attacked by something because he agitated it (so far he’s had run ins with woodchucks and fishercats) or getting into something dangerous (Kina likes to eat toads and frogs for example – can be poisonous).
Be willing to step aside.
As a dog “owner”, I often forgot that not everyone else loves my gigantic wolfy look alike (Yuri) and his small coyote/fox colored sister (Kina). Yuri likes to say “hello” by first giving a terrifying stare down and then jumping up to your eye level (followed by slobbery face licks and hugs – he’s a big softy). Kina often charges with paws flailing and falls over to get belly rubs (yes, even more pathetic). As much as I’m alright with this behavior, we always make sure that we have our dogs on leash, sitting, calm, and off to the side of the trail when we cross paths with others. Want to pet them? Ask us first.
Leave no trace applies to canines too.
Fortunately my dogs aren’t throwing energy bar wrappers and soda cans everywhere, but they still need to follow the whole ‘leave no trace’ philosophy like their human counterparts. What does this mean for them? Pups should stay on trail, keep the digging to a minimum, and most importantly – messes should be far off trail (like so far no one would ever accidentally step in it) or picked up entirely. Furthermore, the same way you don’t want to hear loud music being blared through the woods while on your hike, be sure to have some control over your dogs barking/howling. No one needs to know of every squirrel spotting.
Us clumsy humans aren’t the only ones who get lost, hurt, dehydrated, or hungry. When we hike, Yuri carries food, water, and treats for both him and Kina (we’re getting Kina her own bag soon). Both are also microchipped, wearing name tags with phone numbers, and they even sport GPS collars from Tagg. If we ever start doing larger hikes with both of them, we’ll be carrying more dog gear with us to keep them safe and prepared. Ruffwear has a ton of great safety gear, so be sure to check them out!
Listen to your dog.
So I may spend entirely too much time with my pups since I call home my office. But the dogs and I have gotten to the point where we just about understand each other’s languages. Of all the many things they have to say (usually it’s just ‘LOVE ME! More belly rubs! Food!’), knowing when they’re reaching their limits is hugely important. Sometimes it’s a “I can’t go any further without some food and water” and other times it’s a “No, really. This boulder is too big for me to get over. Help!”. Either way, pay attention and help your dog. If they find your favorite outdoor activities just as fun as you do, they’ll be better behaved and you’ll be happier. All around win.