5 Essentials for Conquering the Trail with your Dog
One of my favorite things about living in Pennsylvania is watching our lush green foliage explode in sprays of color. There is no better place to enjoy the beautiful hues than from one of the many hiking trails we are lucky to have so close to home. Equally, there are no better companions for a hike in the brisk Autumn air than our dogs! For dogs of all shapes and sizes, from little Shih Tzus to massive Mastiff mixes, a hike is a wonderful adventure that is full of new sights, sounds, and smells–especially smells. Our next blog post will highlight some of the best hiking spots to take your dog in and around the Lehigh Valley. In the meantime, we wanted to make sure that you have everything you need for a fun, safe hike with your buddy.
Make sure you carry these seven essentials with you when adventuring with your dog:
#1: Snacks and water
Your dog will enjoy lunch at the lookout just as much as you do! Hiking is hard work and bringing some of your dog’s food along to replenish them during a break will keep them feeling great. We also have lots of healthy snacks for your dog in the boutique at the Lodge that would be a real treat. I think that one of our individually vacuum packed Applpaws Chicken Fillets or Salmon Loins would be perfect for throwing into a hiking pack. They were a hit at Daycare’s Treat Day today!
Make sure that you also bring water for your furry friend and take breaks to keep them hydrated. Dogs are especially susceptible to waterborne illness and making sure they have frequent access to clean water will deter the sneaky lap from a stagnant puddle. We carry lightweight collapsible water bowls and a really cool product called Handi-Drink which is a portable water dispenser designed specifically for dogs. Stop in during our business hours to check them out!
#2: The right leash and harness/collar
So many unexpected surprises pop up on the trails–a doe and her fawns, a group through-hikers on our little slice of the Appalachian Trail, a dog that’s running off leash. Using the correct leash and harness/collar is important to keep your dog safe.
Your dog may love people, but it’s totally understandable if they are a little freaked out by a group of people decked out from head to toe in hiking gear carrying large packs! You want to make sure that your dog can’t slip their collar. Martingale collars are a great safety net. This type of collar sits comfortably loose on a dog’s neck. If they start to back out of the collar, it tightens, but just enough so that they absolutely cannot slip out of the collar.
Even better than a Martingale collar is a harness that gives you more control of your dog. Keeping control of an excited dog is challenging. If you need to bring your dog’s focus back on to you or move them to the side of the trail, the right harness can be a valuable tool. We carry a variety of harnesses, including the Freedom No-Pull. The No-Pull comes with a double-sided leash that can be clipped to the front and the back of the harness. If you stop into the Lodge with your dog, we can fit the harness and show you how to use the leash for increased control and to bring your dog’s focus back to you. We can also fit one of our Martingale’s to your dog if you are interested!
Please also make sure that your dog is wearing identification tags. Not everyone is educated about microchips and if your dog, heaven forbid, does slip away from you, this will increase the chances of a swift reunion.
As for leashes–any strong leash under 6 feet will do! Resist the urge to use a retractable leash. With retractable leashes, many dogs are tempted to go off-trail. You don’t want them coming into contact with hidden wildlife or picking up burrs or ticks. Additionally, you’ll find that the leash will quickly get tangled in the brush. Even if you can keep your dog on the trail, these leashes are not a good idea. From not being close enough to them in case a dangerous situation arises to the chance of them building up speed and hurting you, themselves, or snapping the leash, you are better off just using your average, well-made dog leash.
#3: Poop bags
All of us dog owners know that always carrying poop bags just becomes a fact of life! Although woodland creatures poop anywhere they please, dogs are not part of the forest’s ecosystem and it’s absolutely essential that their waste be removed. If you feel that using plastic bags just doesn’t jive with enjoying the majesty of nature, I’m with you!
At Cold Nose Lodge, We carry Earth Rated Poop Bags, which I feel MUCH better about using. The white bags from this line are vegetable starch based and can even be discarded in municipal compost that accepts animal waste. The green bags from this line are plastic, but they use oxo-biodegradable plastic technology to help them break down unlike other plastic bags.
#4: A tick remover and small container
This is one that doubles for you and your dog! Unfortunately, over the past several years, cases in Lyme in Pennsylvania have dramatically increased. The Lyme vaccination is your best bet, but doesn’t completely eliminate your dog’s chances of getting Lyme. Other tick-borne illnesses are also threats. If you see a tick on yourself or your dog, don’t want to wait to get home to remove it. Remove the tick as soon as possible and store it in a sealed container or bag to bring to your physician or vet. We sell a very inexpensive tick remover at CNL. It’s easier to use than tweezers and is designed so that you don’t accidentally leave the tick’s head embedded in yourself or your dog.
#5: A Camera
Make sure you document the amazing memories you make with your dog! There’s no better backdrop than a beautiful forest or sprawling sky and valley. Don’t be shy–ask one of your fellow hikers to snap the perfect shot for you. We would love to, ask long as you return the favor!
I love seeing pictures of hiking dogs, have one of your own? Post a picture on our Facebook here!