Many of us love our dogs. Is your Fido ready for the trail? Is the trail ready for your Fido? Here are a few things to think about.
First, is your dog suited to the trail? We often think of our dogs as ready to ramble, despite the terrain. After all, isn’t that what dogs used to do? Maybe, but that doesn’t mean your dog is ready to go on your hiking trip. For a minute, think of your dog as a human. Is he fit or is he a couch potato? Does her body shape and size allow her to cover the intended terrain? Will he be able to control his body temperature well enough?
We’ll refer to a couple of dogs as examples in this section. The first is Levi, a Labrador retriever. The second is Willie, a rat terrier mutt.
If your dog is suited for the trail, you must follow the proper etiquette. Levi was a great hiking dog when she was young. Her pace matched an adult’s step for step, and she was fit and strong. She was well trained and always under voice control. However, she had a problem on the trail: She was not very excited to meet others, whether they were human or canine. She was the epitome of a guard dog-no one could approach her owners. Therefore, it was critical that she be leashed and under voice control at all times. This is important for your pooch, too, even if he is the friendly sort-he could run into a dog like Levi who is not so friendly.
Proper dog etiquette also includes cleaning up after them-dog poop is not part of the natural ecosystem-and having your dog stick to the trails so as not to trample the vegetation. And you might want to consider leaving the noisy ones at home. Willie is a good example of a dog that others do not appreciate in the woods-he screams whenever he sees other animals, especially rodents. Now he stays home and patrols the yard when his owners go on day hikes. Others will appreciate your efforts when you make sure that your dog is a good hiking companion.