hike with your dog

The National Park and Recreation Association has designated July as National Recreation and Parks Month in hopes of getting people more involved with their local parks. We have many beautiful parks near Chaska, Minnesota with a lot to offer people and pets in the area. From organized sports for adults to summer camps for kids to hiking trails for people and their dogs, our local parks have it all. Best of all, enjoying outdoor activities together is a great way to bond with your pet. We do recommend coming in for a preventive care exam before the hike if it has been more than six months since we have seen your dog.

How to Have a Successful Hike

Your first step is to locate a park with a trail where you would like to hike with your dog. The Chaska Park and Recreation Department maintains this list of parks for area residents. Once you find a park with a trail to meet your needs, make sure that you’re prepared to follow its rules for hiking with dogs. This typically includes cleaning up after your pet, using a harness and leash, and allowing other hikers to pass as appropriate.

Keep in mind that you’re responsible for your dog’s behavior while on the trail, so make sure you have trained him not to lunge at other dogs or hikers. Also, you don’t have to carry bags of waste like you do when you go for a walk in the neighborhood. According to accepted hiking etiquette, you should bury bags of waste at least 200 feet away from any trail, camp site, or source of water. The hole should be at least six inches deep. Your dog should not urinate close to a water source either.

It’s important to work your way up to longer hikes with your dog before officially hitting the trail. One easy way to start doing this is by walking your dog with an empty pack attached to her. You can increase the weight with each walk, but it should never be more than one-quarter of her body weight. We recommend waiting until your dog is at least a year old before hiking together since puppies aren’t yet strong enough to carry a pack by themselves.

Pet Essentials to Take Along

Whether you plan to hike for a few hours or all day, make sure that you pack a first-aid kit for your dog. In addition to his regular medications, it should contain bandages, antiseptic, rubber gloves, swabs, pliers, extra bells and lights for his collar, and a whistle. The latter three items can especially come in handy to find your dog if he wanders away from you. Other supplies to bring with you include:

  • Your dog’s regular food along with dishes to place it in
  • Fresh drinking water
  • Clean towels for wiping mud off her paws and for after a bath if needed
  • Foot coverings to protect nails and paw pads
  • Nail file and clippers
  • Dog comb
  • A cooling collar, especially in the hot July sun

Do a Flea and Tick Check

There’s a greater chance of your dog picking up fleas and ticks on a trail than at home, so make sure you check his entire body for these parasites a few times a day. If you spot a tick after combing through his fur, use a tweezers to remove it with one swift pull. You can also protect your dog with preventive medication or a collar to repel fleas and ticks. Chaska Valley Veterinary Clinic would be happy to recommend specific products.

Photo Credit: tntemerson / Getty Images

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