Safety first when you take your dog camping
Nearly everyone likes to take their canine best friend out into the wilderness with them for either a day hike or some overnight camping. But first, practice a few dry runs to train your pup so that you both come out alive.
For example, Utah, where I live, had an incredible amount of snow this past winter. Once it finally melted, all the rivers, creeks and streams were brimming. The water pressure was so strong, it can be deadly. A few young children fell into running water and lost their lives.
Suppose your dog was thirsty and there was a rushing stream nearby. If your dog is one who would put front paws in the water and lower their head to drink, there’s a good possibility that the current — even at the edge — will be strong enough to take your beloved pet. You may hear a few barks, even a cut-off howl. But that’s it. Your dog is gone.
Having enough water may also be a problem. A gallon of water weighs 8.34 pounds. Think of carrying two gallons if you’re planning a four- to five-hour hike. One gallon for you, one for your friend who is wearing a fur coat. Telephone the agency that manages the land to ask if there are safe streams or water fountains on the trail where you intend to camp or hike.
A day hike is much less dangerous than a camping trip. But even on a day hike, never let your pup out of sight. If it runs off into a forest of trees, a predator such as a coyote may consider your tame dog as a good meal. This is especially true for little dogs, such as a shih tzu or chihuahua that may wish to flick in and out of the trees.
If your pet gets overexcited while day hiking and runs around, it may be best to do a dry run with the pup on a leash. That way, it will learn the discipline of staying by your side in the wilderness. Scold your pup if he or she runs away from your side.
Also, make sure you teach the dog not to eat moose manure or any other kind of manure in the wilderness. Wild animals often have parasites that are passed on in their manure. Those little mites can eventually make your pet very ill, resulting in hundreds of dollars worth of vet bills for you, or even cause death. Bring a roll of small plastic bags with which you can pick up your own pet’s manure.
Bring along some emergency supplies, like tweezers to help pull out splinters and adhesive bandages or the ‘artificial skin’ liquid that protects blisters which are ready to break. As soon as you feel the irritation of a blister starting to form, cover the area with a bandage. In addition, always bring a leash, even if you don’t feel you’ll need it.
It’s not only your dog that will learn during the dry runs. You yourself will learn from practice. Both you and your Fido will be sharp and ready for the wilderness, whether you plan a ten mile hard hike, or an overnight stay for a couple of days.
Wina Sturgeon is the editor of the online magazine Adventure Sports Weekly, which offers the latest training, diet and athletic information.