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Wolfpack Explorations: Minnesota State Parks

There’s no denying it: dogs have varying energy levels. We happen to have two very young, active, and rambunctious dogs who love physical activity. While we love formally training in classes with them, sometimes it’s important just to bond with your dog in an environment outside the training ring. So when we’re feeling the itch, we head to one of our wonderful Minnesota State Parks to do some hiking. We love our hikes because 1) both the humans and dogs involved have a fun time and get to take in some beautiful scenery, 2) it’s great exercise, and 3) our dogs come home tired, and you know how the saying goes, “a tired dog is a good dog.”

While it’s important to make sure hikes are enjoyable for you and your dog, it is also important to ensure everyone is safe while hiking. In Minnesota we usually have high numbers of ticks during the summer and fall, so we are sure to apply our dogs’ monthly dose of Frontline Plus to limit the number of ticks we bring home with us. Even if you treat your dogs to prevent ticks, it is still important to examine them after they’ve been outside for long periods of time, just to make sure none are attempting to hitch a ride home with you.

It is also critical to ensure your dog has access to safe drinking water when hiking. We don’t allow our dogs to drink from any standing puddles or ponds, so we carry extra drinking water with us to give to our dogs as we hike. It’s important to ensure our dogs stay hydrated, especially when temperatures are high and the sun is shining. We use a collapsible bowl to give our dogs water on our hikes: these bowls are great because they collapse down for easy storage in our backpacks! We also bring food if we are out on a long hike, and smaller treats for shorter hikes. Someday soon we’d like to try a short camping trip with our puppies!

Lastly, it is important to consider the weather and conditions when hiking with your dog. Both of our dogs have black coats, so they tend to heat up quickly in the summer when the sun is out. Conversely, some dogs have a low tolerance to cold, and their paws may freeze after just a short time outside (especially when temperatures drop to bitter cold levels like they can here). While our dogs have very high endurance levels and can hike miles at a time without slowing down, some dogs do not have high endurance levels and can only keep up on shorter hikes.

Hiking Minnesota State Parks has been a great outlet for our dogs’ energy, and also keeps us exercising and active in the process. We joined the Minnesota State Parks Passport Club for only $15.00, and are able to collect stamps at each park we go to. Thus far we have visited 26 of the 75 state parks, and just recently (at state park #25), earned a free night of camping and a pin for completing 25. We are excited to tackle more parks in 2018 with our dogs, and will continue to ensure that both humans and dogs have a fun and safe time while hiking.

This Post Has 44 Comments
    1. We also keep track of our states! The MN State Park Passport is fun, because each park has a different stamp and they offer incentives once you’ve reached 25 and then when you’ve reached all of them. We love hiking and being outside with our pups, so we thought it would be fun to track our adventures that way!

  1. Great pictures. Looks like fun. My family doesn’t get to go hiking very often, but this post reminded me how mucjh fun we have when we do hike. We need to hike more in 2018

  2. I used to live in North Dakota and although I never visited the state parks in MN I visited there often. I am however trying to get through all of VA’s state parks which are not nearly as much. They give pins based on how many you have visited and each year offer challenge to visit 5 and receive free access for the year! I’m off to hike today for the first hike of the year!

  3. That is the happiest dog right there, I can almost see the smile of freedom! Park stickers are an awesome idea – I love ticking things off so this would definitely motivate me to get out there! Nikki x

  4. What cute dogs you got! It’s adorable to know of how you take care of them , especially that you carry clean and safe water for them. That’s so sweet!

  5. I l like that you joined the ‘passport club’ and that already you have visited 26 of the 75 state parks, that is a pretty incredible feat I have to say. I love that dogs can go hiking too and I think that it would be quite fun to be on a hike with such friendly and incredible animals for company x

  6. Our dog is pretty energetic too and I think he will love this! I think we’d wait until winter is over though. We don’t want him (or us) to freeze with these awfully cold temperatures we’re having!

  7. When we adopt our next dog, traveling is on my wanna-do list! Your profiles of various dog-friendly places to visit really make me want to do this. Great pictures, too.

  8. When the temperatures drop in Minnesota, I’m sure the state parks have fewer visitors even thought that may be a very beautiful time of year. It’s true that black dogs heat up quicker than my white, double-coated American Eskimo does in the summer time. Love your pictures and your safety tips.

  9. The Minnesota state parks system is an excellent one that’s very pet friendly. I also love their camping program (the free night of camping after visiting 25 of their parks). The water bottle reminder is crucial – even if a sparkling stream runs through a park, it doesn’t mean that the water is safe enough to drink.

  10. That’s awesome that Minnesota State Parks have a program that encourages you to visit the parks. I wonder if North or South Carolina has one? We’ve easily been to 25 parks in each state. LOL. Keep on hiking and have fun! Thanks for sharing

  11. The passport stamps and pin sound like great incentives. Have you considered writing a post or creating a gallery for showcasing the stamps? I’d love to see each park’s stamp and a Wolfpack photo from each state park. That would be a fun gallery to peruse.

  12. Great post and tips for adventuring with your dog. We lived in Moundsview for a couple years after college and loved MN! We bought a canoe and hiked/camped every weekend. I would have loved to track how many parks we went to. Great idea!! You’ll have to share when you’ve hit them all.

  13. Wonderful photos! I used to have a springer who loved to hike. We took her everywhere and she loved to jump in creeks to cool off! We always bring a collapsible bowl and extra water and a few treats. Great tips – especially about the ticks – yuck!

  14. YAY MN! wohhhooo ; )
    Yes, I live in Mn, could you tell?! well, I love going to the State parks to get into nature and breathe that nice fresh air away from the buildings, noise, and crowds.
    Glad you take your dogs along and are prepared as well! Maybe we’ll bump into each other some day hiking?!
    take care!

  15. I’ve never been to Minnesota, but it always looks so pretty in the photos! I had a professor who went to college there and he described it as “driving through a poem” because of all the beautiful names of towns and rivers.

  16. OH I want to come and visit. You live in THE most amazing place!

    and

    I love the passport idea. the achievement and pride you feel when you support such a valuable resource must be huge!!

  17. Looks like you hiked this summer! Minnesota has beautiful parks, our state parks are too far for us. But we have the forest preserves and lots of city parks that we visit regularly. Would love to visit Minnesota some day! Sandra and Dolly

  18. The Minnesota State Parks sound amazing for dogs! We are lucky that our county has so many parks we can bring our dogs (and horses) for free. I also have to energetic dogs, and I tend to get tired more quickly than them.

  19. Very cute. It’s nice that you are pointing out the dogs’ needs and what to consider when hiking with them since many people just drag their animals along without considering the aspects like water supply, dark fur etc.
    The idea of stamp collecting at the parks is great, though! Very motivating and encouraging.
    Keep on going – way to go, girl 😉

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