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.