Guest Post by Zach David
If you have a dog, there’s a very good chance that you’ll want to take them with you on any outdoor adventures you may go on. Let’s face it -- dogs are great as cuddle buddies on the couch, but they’re also so much fun when they’re right by your side as you’re doing what you love outside.
Although dogs may seem right at home in the great outdoors, that they doesn’t mean that they don’t need proper guidance and supervision. There are some necessary safety precautions you should take in order to ensure your adventurous pup’s well-being. Below, we’re discussing 5 of the most important things that you make sure you do before doing anything outdoors.
Ensure That Your Dog Is Well-Trained
This is something that a lot of owners don’t even think about when it comes to safety, but it makes total sense. Chances are that the first time you went hiking, it wasn’t a very graceful experience. Your dog is going to be the exact same way! Without a history of outdoor activities, your dog likely won’t have the skills and abilities needed to effectively hike, swim, or just safely hang out outdoors.
While outdoors, it isn’t uncommon to come across a variety of different obstacles such as logs, rivers, and ditches that you both will need to navigate. Trained and experienced dogs likely will have no problem with these, but dogs that are new to the outdoors may not be able to tackle them -- at least not gracefully.
The best way to get your dog comfortable with the outdoors is to start off slow and build up. Nature walks on dirt paths and safe campgrounds are great places to start and branch out from. You should also ensure that your dog knows basic commands like sit, stay, and come to keep them safe if they’re ever off of their leash.
Take Precautions Around Water
Water is an extremely fun aspect of nature that you’ll likely want to partake in with your dog. However, it can also be quite dangerous -- especially if you’re not adequately prepared to handle it. Fortunately, it’s not hard to be safe around water at all.
First of all, you’ll want to make sure that your dog is able to swim! Most dogs are able to paddle to keep themselves afloat, but this isn’t necessarily swimming. Slowly work with your dog to introduce them to the water and get them comfortable with their swimming abilities in a controlled environment like a swimming pool.
Once your dog is comfortable with swimming, they should be relatively safe around lakes and calm rivers. Despite their ability to swim, though, you’ll want to keep a close eye on your dog at all times. Nature is unpredictable, so you need to ensure that you’ll be able to help your dog the second that a problem emerges. Even close to shore and in shallow water things can happen to your dog, so to be safe you should never let your guard down.
Life jackets are also a great way to keep your dog safe in the water, as they basically ensure that your dog will always stay floating on top of the water. Just ensure that the jacket fits your dog perfectly to ensure that it doesn’t fall off or restrict your dog’s movements.
Bring Plenty Of Snacks And Water
Did you know that the average person can burn over 400 calories per hour that they’re hiking? Burning this many calories is going to deplete someone of energy quite quickly and make them require a lot of food and water. The same thing goes for the dog walking along beside you! If you’re taking your dog with you for any kind of strenuous activity, bringing food and water is an absolute necessity.
As for specific amounts of food and water… there are none. Many factors come into play to determine how much food is needed, such as the length of your activity and the difficulty of it. Most dogs require around 25 to 30 calories per day per pound in order to be healthy. A hike or swimming session could increase this calorie requirement by 50-100%!
While the amount of food that you should bring for your dog varies, you should have a constant supply of water for your dog to drink whenever they get thirsty.
Stopping For Breaks Is Encouraged
When you’re bringing your dog with you for a day of active adventures, taking regular breaks can’t be encouraged enough. Dogs can tire out a lot more quickly than you can, meaning that you’ll need to be cautious of your dog’s body temperature and overall exhaustion.
The breed of your dog can play a part in how frequently you need to take a break. Flat-nosed breeds like pugs, Boston terriers, and French bulldogs all easily overheat due to the fact that their small airways don’t transfer heat effectively. Dogs that originated in colder climates such as huskies and Samoyeds can also overheat quite quickly.
Listen To Your Dog
You could put a lot of effort into preparing for a safe experience with your dog, but preparation won’t always be enough. Sometimes you’ll need to make observations and take action quickly to solve a problem that arises out of the blue. The best way that you’re going to do this is by keeping an open mind and observing your dog closely.
Quite a few issues can arise when in the outdoors -- especially if you’re in an area that’s new to you. Keep an eye on your dog and make sure that nothing is off about them. Strange behavior may indicate that they ingested something dangerous, they’re overheating, or they’re experiencing a plethora of other issues.
If you know your dog well, then you should be able to recognize an issue relatively quickly and deal with it in an appropriate manner. Taking the correct precautions should eliminate the possibility of most issues arising, though.
Overall, taking your dog with you into the outdoors is way too much fun. Whether you’re camping, hiking, swimming, or just taking an adventurous walk, having your best friend right by your side is a way to take things to the next level of enjoyment. In order to get the most enjoyment out of your experience, though, you should be taking a few precautions to make sure that your dog has as good of a time as you do.
Taking the time to train your dog, keep them safe around water, provide them with food and water, take regular breaks, and observe your dog closely will ensure that you have an unforgettable experience (for all the right reasons)!
Guest Post by Zach David
Zach is a life-long pet owner and enthusiast. He was born into a family of pet lovers, and since then has owned several dogs, mice, ferrets, fish, geckos, and a cat. This experience has given him the knowledge necessary to help others become excellent pet owners on his website Beyond The Treat with detailed gear, housing, and feeding guides for all pets.