Summer isn’t just a great time for us to get outside and enjoy ourselves – it’s a great time for our four-legged friends, too!
Dogs need exercise and companionship just as much as humans do, and taking your dog along with you while hiking or camping can be beneficial for both you and your mutt. However, you can never be too careful when it comes to your pet. Staying aware of local leash laws, anticipating trail conditions, and recognizing the need for some safety steps like muzzles and obedience training are all ways you can minimize the possibility of injury to your dog or others.
Obey Local Leash Laws
Leash laws vary from state to state, so it’s important to find out what your local laws are and follow them. But, even in areas where dogs aren’t required to be leashed, you may want to consider doing so if he or she has a tendency to run off.
If you’re visiting a national park, a state park, a recreational area, or a national forest, keep in mind that these places often have different, specific leash laws. In Colorado, leash laws differ vastly from place to place.
In Rocky Mountain National Park, for example, dogs are not allowed on any trails. This rule, with a few exceptions, generally applies to all national parks in the United States, although dogs on leashes are typically allowed in campgrounds and on paved roads within parks.
National forests, like Arapahoe and Roosevelt National Forests here in Colorado, have their fair share of options for dog-friendly trails. This resource is excellent for planning your trip – it contains information for dog-friendly trails and leash laws you should be aware of.
In many state parks, dogs are allowed on trails as long as they are on a leash six feet or shorter. Just be sure to do your research beforehand.
Consider Obedience Training
If your dog has issues with staying close and listening to your commands, you might run into problems while hiking or camping. Obedience training will teach your pet to heed your commands, which will keep both of you safe. If your dog is trained to listen to your commands in spite of any other distractions or stimuli, you’ll be one step closer to ensuring an incident-free experience on the trail or in the campground.
Familiarize Yourself with Trail Situations
It’s important to recognize that if your dog is skittish or is prone to bolting at the sight of a squirrel or other animal, some trail situations just may not be safe or in the best interests of you, your dog, and others around you. Does your dog get spooked by other dogs? On narrow, crowded trails where contact is all but unavoidable, keep in mind that any kind of fear reaction on your dog’s part could result in a bite or similar situation. It’s always better to err on the side of caution – if you anticipate tension or difficulty in keeping your dog in line on a trail, it’s best to leave your pooch at home.
Use a Muzzle, If Needed
Even if you select a trail with less traffic, you may come across other hikers or campers even in the most secluded of areas. If your dog isn’t well-trained and doesn’t like strangers, you should consider getting him or her a muzzle. This will keep your pet and anyone you come across safe from injuries.
Beware of Wild Animals
If the area you are hiking or camping in has been known to be populated by wild animals, you need to watch your dog closely to make sure that he or she remains safe and doesn’t panic. The sight of a wild animal can trigger a reaction in a dog that could lead to violent behavior, so make sure you are 100% aware of your surroundings – you could ultimately help avoid a dangerous situation.
The summer season is a fantastic time for you and your dog to get some exercise and spend more time together, but you must remain cautious at all times. If you do experience an incident that requires causes you to have legal questions, don’t hesitate to contact the attorneys at Mintz Law Firm. We will provide you with a free initial consultation.