5 Tips for Hiking Safely with your Dog in the PNW
Knowledge is power when it comes to keeping you & your dog safe in the mountains.
1. Follow leash laws.
Who doesn’t want to see the joy of their dog running freely in the mountains? I get it. But during my time volunteering with the Washington State Animal Response Team, "dog over a cliff" was a common scene that volunteers were asked to respond to, and a scenario that is easily preventable by keeping your dog on leash. Besides keeping your dog safe, following leash laws shows respect to your fellow trail users & the local wildlife.
If you prefer to hike off-leash with your dog, seek out areas where it is allowed & use your best judgement to decide what's safe. Always be sure you've mastered a strong recall. Practice! Practice! Practice!
2. Pack the 10 Essentials for You & Your Dog
Accidents happen. If you suddenly find yourself stuck in the mountains longer than planned, you'll be happy you brought extra food for your pup. If the trail you're headed to doesn't have reliable water sources, you'll be happy you packed extra water for you & your dog. If your dog cuts their paw on a sharp rock, you'll be glad you brought booties & a first aid kit. Make a packing list and make sure you include the 10 essentials for you and your dog.
3. Carry a Personal Locater Beacon (PLB) or Satellite Messenger
What will you do if your dog is injured, can't walk & you're out of range for cell service? Carrying a PLB or Satellite Messenger can be a matter of life & death in remote areas and having peace of mind is worth the investment. I use the Garmin inReach mini and pay a small monthly subscription during hiking season that I know could save my life, or my dog's, in an emergency.
Ever wonder who comes to the rescue? Washington State Animal Response Team (WASART) is an incredible organization of volunteers, trained & ready to help your dog in need. They will often work in conjunction with Search & Rescue if you find yourself in an emergency with your dog. Know their number! Emergency Phone: 425-681-5498
4. Get Pet CPR & First Aid Certified
In my opinion, having first aid knowledge for both humans & animals is an essential skill, and you might just save a life. There are many organizations that teach Pet CPR & First Aid, including the American Red Cross and CPR Seattle. I also recommend muzzle training your dog, which is both fun & practical! When an animal is fearful or in pain, their behavior can be unpredictable and having a muzzle trained dog ensures both you, your dog & anybody helping them will be safe.
5. Always hike within your dog’s abilities. Start slow & build endurance!
Not every hike will be suitable for your dog, whether it be too hot, too cold, too steep, too rocky, too slippery, too long…. research the weather, elevation, distance, difficulty & terrain of your hiking destinations beforehand and make choices based on your dog’s training & abilities. Start slow & build endurance, just like you would for yourself.
Below are just a few of the many resources to learn from so you can hike happy, confident & prepared 💪🏼
Happy learning! And happy hiking with your dog!
Owner of K9 Ascent