Monday, June 15, 2015

Traveling and Camping with your Dog

Traveling and Camping with your Dog

The summer months are here, and that means its time for traveling and hitting the trails! Spending time outdoors with your dog offers an unrivaled bonding experience. Safety should always be your number one priority while taking your dog out into the wilderness. Here are some helpful tips to help ensure you and your dog have the best outdoor experience possible.

Development at Early Ages
     Exercise is the best gift you can give to your pet, but you have to start slowly. Too much distance or exertion can cause damage to muscles and joints. A good rule to follow is 5 minutes of outdoor play for each month of age, twice a day. For example, if you pup is 4 months, exercise him for 20 minutes twice a day. This could be playing fetch, frisbee, running, or a brisk walk. Whatever you and your pet love doing together!
     If you decide to take your young dog on a hike, listen to him. Your dog will let you know when the walk is just too much for them. 
     While dog back packs are cute, they aren't a good idea for young dogs. Wait until your pet is fully grown before you strap gear to them. Be aware of your dogs limits and don't pack the bag too heavy.

     The most important training you can teach your dog is recall; that is, calling your dog to return to you if they happen to get out or off-lead, regardless of tempting distractions. Work with him at a secure dog park. A dog whistle is a useful tool in this exercise, but not always necessary. Speak loudly in a low voice when calling your pet. Don't yell. You also never want to call your dog over to reprimand or punish your pet. This only teaches him that coming to you means punishment, and they will likely avoid you when called!
     Another important command to teach before taking your dog camping is "Leave It." This command is used to stop the pet from what they're doing. Dogs are very inquisitive and sometimes that can get them to trouble. If your pet gets excited when he sees a squirrel or raccoon, firmly saying "leave it" will encourage your dog to leave the animal be. This keeps your dog safe! 
     "Stay" is yet another very important command to utilize while camping. Asking your dog to stay in the car until invited out prevents him from jumping out and running near high traffic areas.

Bring along a collapsible or light weight water bowl and a water bottle for your dog. When packing water, pack separate bottles for you and your dog to ensure you both get enough to drink. Dogs do not have the ability to sweat, so drinking water is a key component to keeping cool. Anytime you take a break, offer you dog water (and drink some yourself!).

Carrying your gear as well as your dog's supplies may add up quickly and take a toll on your back. Putting your pup's food, water, and lightweight bowls could really help you out. Dogs can safely carry up to 25 percent of their body weight. Many pet stores carry a few varieties of dog backpacks; buying in-store offers the chance to properly size your pet for a comfortable fit. When packing the backpack, put the majority of the weight (usually water) low and forward, over the dog's shoulders. 

You always need to know where your dog is and allow others to see him too. Flashing red lights that hang from the collar is a great way to do that. Red is a less intrusive color that won't hurt or bother your dog's eyes while wearing it (unlike harsh white lights).

Never ever ever leave your dog unattended while tethered! While at camp, day or night, tethering is a good way to keep your dog wandering away. A braided steel cable sheathed in plastic is the best because the dog won't be able to bite through it. 

First Aid
Get a first aid kit! Many dog first aid kits are similar to humans -- stop bleeding and prevent infection -- but it gets complicated with medications. You can buy pre-made dog first aid kids to supplement your human one.

Other Animals
Fleas and Ticks
You should always keep your pet up-to-date on flea and tick medications! Ask your vet about the best options for your pet. 

Be sure to familiarize yourself with native wildlife before you travel. Be aware if you are traveling to an area with large carnivores such as cougars and bears. More risks are associated with small dogs, such as coyotes and large birds. Make sure you have a strong recall and don't ever leave your pet unattended. 

If you are traveling to an area with venomous snakes, you may consider getting a rattlesnake vaccine for your dog. Training your dog to avoid snakes is also a great way to prevent injury. A strong "leave it" is also a strong tool for snake avoidance.

     Heat exhaustion and hypothermia are life threatening for both humans and dogs alike. In the summer, it's a good idea to plan your hikes near water. This allows your dog to stop for drinks and splash in the water to prevent over heating. Don't shave your dog. His fur acts like a radiator just as much as an insulator, helping him repel some heat and stay protected from sunburn and abrasions. Signs of overheating include coughing, laying down in the shade, excessive panting, and lethargy. Give your dog frequent breaks and water.
     During colder days, nights, or in cold climates keep your dog warm with a pet coat. Watch for signs of hypothermia such as limping, shivering, and walking with a hunch. If any of these symptoms occur, get your pet to warmth immediately.