With cooler temperatures, crisp air, and a colorful canopy of foliage, fall is the perfect season to enjoy the beautiful changing outdoor scenery. If you are a dog owner, you have the perfect excuse to be outdoors! If you are planning a gentle walk in the woods or a hike up a mountain, consider taking your dog along. Including your dog in your fall outdoor adventures provides mental stimulation and exercise, helping to create a happier, more well-adjusted dog. It's great bonding time for the two of you, and canine company can even help you appreciate your surroundings more fully. With their keen noses, dogs can discover things in nature that you might miss!
Here are some tips to ensure that you and your dog have a great experience together.
- Start gradually. Even young and active dogs need to be conditioned before they are ready for long hikes. Keep outings short at first, and gradually build up to the fitness level necessary for your planned hike.
- Research the area you are planning to visit to make sure dogs are allowed. You can find a complete list of dog-friendly parks, trails, and other destinations in Dog Friendly.com's United States and Canada Dog Travel Guide.
- You never know what you might encounter in the wild, so make sure your dog is up-to-date with vaccinations.
- Remember that your dog is barefoot. If you are planning a hike, pick trails with soft-covered terrain. Avoid paths that are littered with sharp rocks, and bring a first-aid kit with bandages and antiseptic just in case. Be sure to include tweezers for tick and thorn removal and a sock in case of a paw injury.
- Make sure your dog is wearing an identification tag with your contact information.
- Always keep your dog on a leash. You don't want your dog to run off into the forest in pursuit of a squirrel—you never know what other types of wildlife he might encounter. A hands-free leash is a great tool for maintaining control of your dog while fully engaging in your surroundings.
- Bring waste bags. Just because your dog poops in the woods and no one sees it doesn't mean that it doesn't count!
- Pack a travel bowl and plenty of water to keep your pooch hydrated. Remember that pets can't sweat, so plan outings for early morning or late afternoon and watch for signs of overheating, like excessive panting.
- If you are planning a longer outing, be sure to bring food and treats to maintain your dog's energy.
- Fall is peak tick season, so don't forget to examine your dog closely after your outing.