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Outdoors

Outdoors: Take a hike with your best friend -- the furry one

  • c7color4xmacie-JPG

    Macie wears a backpack for her hike with her owner. A backpack can be used to help carry lightweight items along with making the dogs feel like they have a job.

    BRAD ZAHAR / CHRONICLE

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When it comes to adventuring with your dogs, there’s a reason we call them man’s best friend.

Northeast Ohio offers many dog-friendly trails and parks, allowing our furry friends to accompany us just about anywhere.

Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) in Beachwood hosted a class this week titled, “Adventuring with Dogs.” It covered safety, what to pack, where to go and other things to consider when going outside with your dog.

Hiking is the most popular human and dog activity, but some dogs enjoy water and camping, too.

When it comes to hiking, the first thing is to know where you are going. Most places in Northeast Ohio require your dog to be leashed. The lead can be no longer than 6 feet in most cases. If the leash is too long, it can be a misdemeanor. Check the park regulations before going.

Look at the terrain and the weather you might encounter to see if it is dog-safe. Is the terrain rough? Will it hurt their paw pads? Is it too hot for them? Is the trail uphill? All of these factors will help you determine when and where you should go. Knowing your dog’s physical limitations is extremely important for their safety and well-being, as dogs do not handle heat as well as humans.

Once you’ve established those limitations and know where you’re going to be hiking, you can start to prepare the gear.

You don’t need much, but a leash, poop bags, water and a collar with the dog’s ID, license and rabies vaccination are the essentials. A harness is recommended as it is harder for the dog to slip out of and makes it easier for you to control them.

Take your vet’s number and know where the closest animal emergency room is, just in case.

When it comes to wildlife, we don’t have much to worry about in this area. There aren’t many venomous snakes in Northeast Ohio. However, snakes, unless provoked will usually leave you alone. Skunks and raccoons are nocturnal and coyotes really only affect smaller or unattended dogs. Compared to other areas, the wildlife here is mostly safe.

For the dogs who enjoy swimming, taking them kayaking or paddle boarding is an option. While dogs are natural-born swimmers, bring a PFD for them. Many dog PFD’s have handles on the back so you can grab them should they go overboard. However, not all dogs are water dogs, and it does take some time to get them acclimated to it.

Campgrounds can be dog-friendly, too. But if taking your dog camping, you have to know the rules of the campground. Check for leash rules, noise ordinances, waste pickup and so on. Take extra food and water as your dog will have a higher energy level and consume more food and water being active.

If tent camping, clip their nails, as sharp nails can cut the tent. Also, only put food out during feeding as you do not want them to think the camping trip is just a time to eat all day.

With a lot of parks across Northeast Ohio, getting out with your dog is accessible and convenient. Some parks and reservations are not open to dogs due to nature trails and wildlife nests, but you can find this information clearly labeled online when checking out where you wish to go.

REI in Beachwood offers classes and events almost weekly covering a wide-range of topics.

I found this class very informative and fun and really gave me some things to think about when taking the dogs out as we approach the “dog days of summer.”

Contact Brad Zahar at bzaharoutdoors@gmail.com.
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