Always by Your Side
How to get more enjoyment out of outdoor life with your canine companion.
By Victoria Tillinghast
Not every outdoorsman has a field dog as their best friend; some have very average canine companions. They sleep on our couches, get regular baths after muddy walks, and maybe an occasional table scrap or two. Some outdoorsman, and their dogs, may both be city dwellers—those who must travel to enjoy greener pastures. If you’ve been on the fence about bringing your dog with you, either hiking or camping, put your mind at ease with these simple tips, product recommendations and sage advice from an expert.
Not every dog owner has a pedigree Labrador waiting to accompany them. As the adoption rate for dogs from shelters continues to catch up to dogs obtained through breeders those with mixed mutts may wonder if its breed or behavior makes a dog perfect for an active outdoor lifestyle. Diane Zokle of Field Dog Life magazine eases this concern.
“If the owner enjoys being outdoors, the dog will as well,” she says. “A dog is more eager to please than anything else. And some breeds are more eager to please than others but, a well-trained and well-behaved dog will always answer the call of its owner.”
Well-trained and well-behaved are the essential phrases here. Though sometimes out in the woods, it feels like you are alone, a responsible dog owner must always be ready to encounter other recreationists, dogs and wildlife, particularly when visiting parks, public trails and lands where other people and pets may be present. In these environments, this means having a good leash with you all the time.
Zokle expresses this in her top recommendations for outdoor dog gear, “without a doubt, a leash and a water bowl are essential.” Though it is possible to have a dog trained well enough to be off-leash, Zokle suggests, “Even then, I wouldn’t 100 percent chance it.”
With a good leash and a water bowl ready, you’re going to need to bring plenty of water. Adding to Zokle’s list, we recommend the Mountain Smith K9 Dog Pack, which can carry up to 9 liters of food and water. Also handy is the trusted Tick Key, which makes removing ticks from either you or your dog a simple, quick process. Last but certainly not least on our top product recommendations are the Earth Rated Poop Bags.
And let’s talk about poop because picking up after your dog is essential when it comes to environmental protection. Remember the Leave No Trace Principle. How this applies to you and your pet means doing your due diligence by removing any and all waste from the camping or hiking area.
“Bury pet waste in a 6- to- 8-inch hole that’s at least 200 feet away from trails, camps and water sources,” according to REI’s Guide to Hiking or Backpacking with your Dog. And though it can be difficult, “Be prepared to interrupt things and move [200 feet away] if your dog begins to pee in or next to a water source.”
With Earth Rated Poop Bags, you can bury the bag with the poop. Earth Rated Poop Bags contain an EPI additive, allowing bags to break down naturally while also being non-toxic. Alternatively, with a great dog pack such as the Mountain Smith K9, you can let your dog carry their own waste until you leave the trail.
Aside from gear and good training, your dog’s health must be taken into consideration as well. Outdoor Life’s 8 Common Wild Plants that Are Poisonous to Your Dog is an essential read. And to be ready for the unimaginable, the Red Cross actually offers free online Dog First Aid Training, something every pet owner should know, particularly when venturing with their pet to remote areas.
Incorporating our pets into more areas of our lifestyle improves the lifestyle of both dog and human. And there is no better outdoor companion who will show the same eagerness and excitement as you for the great outdoors than man’s best friend.
Want to read more about dogs? Field Dog Life Vol. 1 is restocking soon! Check out Diane Zokle’s Field Dog Life online as well and anticipate Vol. 2 of the print magazine, which is expected to be available sometime this year.