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Taking your dog to State Parks

Bringing your best friend

For many people, your dog is your best friend. Consequently, it’s no surprise that many people like to bring their dogs along on hiking adventures. In fact, our four legged counterparts might enjoy the adventures even more than we do. However, before you hit the state parks with your dog, there are a few important things to consider and remember.

Leashes are not optional

It doesn’t matter how well trained your dog is, or how friendly and in love with people and creatures he is – the leash rules are there for a reason and must be adhered to. While you may be fully confident in your dog, you do not know who or what you may encounter on the trail.

There are those on the trail who have fears and previous poor experiences with dogs. This means that even if your dog is well behaved, the approach of your dog not on a leash can cause discomfort and anxiety. To make the State Park trails a welcome place for all, it’s important to respect all who are traversing the trails.

In addition, a leash helps you control your pooch in an encounter with another dog or a wild animal. In the State Park your dog may be predator or prey depending on what you run into. The last thing you want is either your best friend being chased through the woods, or your dog giving chase to a creature and struggling to find his way back to you. A leash prevents both of these scenarios.

Speaking of leashes

When choosing what leash to bring on the trail, it is best to choose a short leash. This keeps your dog close at hand, and also lessons the chance of the leash becoming a tripping hazard for other trail users like runners or bikers. If you encounter horses at the trail, bring your dog in close or pick them up. Horses can spook easily, and no one wants a trampling on the trail.

Remember to hydrate

Remember that your dog is going to require just as many extra fluids hiking as you do. You will need to carry extra water and snacks for your dog. If you have a larger dog, there are many doggies backpacks that will let your pooch literally carry his own weight. In these warm seasons it is also wise to bring along a tick comb, especially if your dog has longer hair.

Goodnight, sleep tight

If you’re planning on camping overnight at a state park with your dog, it’s important to be aware of your dog’s tendencies and plan accordingly. If you have an anxious dog that tends to startle more easily, try booking a camping spot at the end or outside of a camping loop. If you’re in an RV, consider having a white noise machine going inside to block out some of the sounds of the campsite. No one wants to be woken up by a barking dog at 2am!

Check before you go

While most State Parks welcome the presence of your dog, there are a few that prohibit it due to cultural or environmental sensitivities. Look up where you’re going on the State Park’s website to make sure Fido can come along.

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