Ease into Tahoe’s autumn hikes | SierraSun.com

Ease into Tahoe’s autumn hikes

Kim Salerno
Special to the Sun

Fall has arrived — it might be time to turn that daily walk into an interesting hike.

It’s no secret exercise is a necessity for both you and your dog. We often forget our dogs are pack animals and their origins are rooted in hunting, playing and roaming all day long with their pack family.

Walking your four-legged friend is a special time for the two of you to bond, as well as establish yourself as the leader of your domestic pack. Why not shake up your routine a bit and kick your workout into high gear by taking your best friend for a hike?

FOLLOW THESE TRAIL TIPS

Know your limits: Does your current exercise endeavor consist of walking around the block a couple times? Then you may want to rethink mapping out that 10-mile hike. Start intensifying walks. Make them longer and include hills if possible so you can build up stamina. Consider a visit to the vet just ensure your dog is ready to hike. Dogs are people pleasers. They never want to let on they are injured or in pain, so they will endure it for as long as they can.

Once you’ve determined to go on that hike, make sure you have the following items.

Proper ID tags: The tags must be legible and with your dog’s name and your current contact information. It’s also a good idea to have a current photo with you just in case you get separated.

Collar and leash: Take these just as you would when you’re going for a regular walk.

First aid kit: Human first aid kits can come in handy in the event of a cut or scrape (for either of you). Throw some tweezers in it for easy tick removal.

Vet’s phone number: In the event something unexpected happens, have your vet’s phone number with you to quickly find out how to best take care of your dog.

Sunscreen: You both need sunscreen and they make sunscreen specifically for dogs. Light-colored noses are very susceptible to sunburns and dogs can get skin cancer just like you.

Orange vests: Know whether or not you are taking your hike during a hunting season. Orange vests for you and your dog will make sure you both stand out.

Appropriate dress: When hiking during cooler weather, take along an extra layer of clothes if your dog tolerates them. For warmer hikes, keep a cool, moist scarf or bandana he can wear to take a bite out of the heat.

Water and Food

Just like you need to fuel up and hydrate for a workout, the same holds true for your canine companion. Take plenty of water and a dish he can drink from (they make collapsible bowls for traveling ease) and offer it often. A good rule of thumb is 8 ounces of water for every hour you plan to hike. It’s best to keep him from drinking the water in streams or other natural sources, as these could contain nasty bacteria. Bottles of water that are frozen are also great to pack in case the weather is hot and can offer immediate relief to your pooch.

Food should be given on rest breaks or during bouts of less intense activity to ensure you don’t upset his tummy or cause bloating.

BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS

Plan your hikes on trails that are used often and provide a clear path; now is not the time to forge a new one through the wilderness. In most cases, you’ll likely encounter the usual suspects of the wildlife world, such as squirrels and maybe a deer or two. Keep your eyes open for common canine offenders, including porcupines and skunks. These animals are not as easily scared off by your dog and may become agitated.

Familiarize yourself with what poison oak and other unpleasant plants look like. Although your dog can’t get poison oak or ivy, they can pass it on to you.

Mind Your Manners

The same rules you follow on your routine walks apply to your hikes. Have a carry in, carry out mentality, which includes cleaning up after your dog on the trail. Using a leash will ensure other hikers, other dogs, as well as the flora and fauna around you remain undisturbed. Let others moving at a faster pace pass you easily.

Happy hiking!

TripsWithPets.com, founded by President Kim Salerno, is an online resource for pet travel, offering resources to ensure pets are welcome, happy, and safe while traveling. The website features a directory of pet friendly hotels and accommodations, airline and car rental pet policies; pet-friendly restaurants, beaches, and events; and more.