Finally, the snow is (mostly) melted, and it’s time to switch from snow boots to hiking boots! Your best friend is ready too! Make sure your dog is trail-ready and welcome in the backcountry.  

The first stop might be a visit with your vet to make sure your dog is ready for the hike you have planned. Some dogs are better hikers than others. If your pooch is young or is getting up in years, it’s especially important to make sure they are healthy enough and have the stamina to go. Starting with small outings is always a good idea.

Make sure to check the rules for the area you are visiting. Most US national parks do not allow dogs to share the trail, even if they are on a leash. Many national forests, as well as state and local parks, allow dogs on their trail systems, though rules vary. Leashes are mandatory almost everywhere.

Start packing once you’ve done your homework and made sure your dog is ready and welcome! Take food (more than you usually feed her) and water (drinking from streams can expose her to bacteria and parasites that are very dangerous). You also will need to add a few things to your first aid kit for your dog. Things such as tweezers, paw crack ointment, and booties are important to have. Do some research or buy a ready-made dog first aid kit. You will also need a leash, a clip-on light to locate him even when it’s dark, and his favorite treats to let him know how much you enjoy the adventure with him.foster

In the wilderness, remember you and your dog are not alone. Be good neighbors to your fellow hikers and to wildlife.  You may think your dog is adorable and everyone will love her, but not everyone wants a random dog bounding up to them in the middle of a peaceful hike. You must always maintain control of your dog. Keeping your dog on a short leash is important for safety, courtesy, and control. An off-leash dog can disappear out of sight and get into trouble. You don’t want your dog to come over a hill filled with porcupine quills or reeking of skunk. If there are off-leash areas where you are hiking, only let your dog run free if you have verbal control of your dog, you can always see your dog.

This may seem like a no-brainer- but pick up after your dog. You might think your dog’s waste is a natural part of the cycle of life, especially in more remote locations. However, it can cause problems for local creatures and can even impact the water supply. And to be frank, it’s rude to leave your dog’s waste behind. You wouldn’t leave it on a sidewalk in town, so don’t leave it on a trail.

Have a great summer of hiking and exploring with your pooch. If you don’t have a dog to hike with, visit Second Chance and meet one of our wonderful adoptable dogs!

My name is Buddy, and I’d love to be your hiking buddy. I’m a young, friendly, healthy, well-trained boy who loves playing ball and hiking. Come meet me today!

Second Chance Humane Society’s Animal Resource Center and Shops have served San Miguel, Ouray & Montrose Counties since 1994. Adoption hours are Wednesday through Sunday from 11 am to 5:30 pm. Our Community Veterinary Services are available by appointment. View our shelter pets and services online: