Woman’s Best Friend – 4 Tips For Staying Active With Your Dog
Dogs have always been a big part of my life. When I was a kid, I had a dog named “Rascal” —a scrappy mixed-breed mutt who served as best friend, guardian, and eager partner in mischief-making and high adventure. Now my main companion is a hyper-smart chihuahua/jack russell/something-or-other named The Fonz, who was found wandering the streets of Los Angeles covered in dirt and nearly starving. The Fonz has become a stalwart companion, fierce watchdog, and surprisingly athletic hiking companion in the two years I have had him. His endurance, for a small breed, never ceases to amaze me.
The Fonz and I hike the numerous trails in and around Los Angeles nearly every day of the week. I can be certain, at a particular time each afternoon, he will hop up on my desk, press his paw to my keyboard and look at me, as if to say: “Jessica. Get off your butt, away from your computer and let’s go explore this beautiful world.”
Pets are a wonderful reminder to get outside and get moving. They love to sniff and wander and their curiosity, energy—and stubborn natures!—require that we get up and get moving with them. If, like me, you spend entirely too much time in front of screens or in your car, your pup can be just the excuse you need to get out into bright clean air, stretch your legs and tap into that kid in you again—open-armed and ready for adventure.
Pets are a wonderful reminder to get outside and get moving. They love to sniff and wander and their curiosity, energy—and stubborn natures!—require that we get up and get moving with them.
Here are some tips for safe, fun exercise and exploration with our canine pals.
Tip 1: Prep
Do your research. If you are taking your pet hiking somewhere more exciting than merely around the block, be sure to check out park, beach and/or hiking websites to be sure that the location allows dogs. Also be certain you are following leash laws specific to each location. Keep in mind that most spots do require that pets be leashed, both for the safety of others and the pets themselves. Always be respectful of rules and restrictions regarding your pets.
Tip 2: Safety
Aside from the obvious (never leave pets in hot cars, always keep you and your pet hydrated) be alert and aware of any dangers specific to your environment. Pests such as ticks, spiders, or,as we have in Los Angeles, coyotes, rattlesnakes and mountain lions, can be dangerous to both you and your pups. Always keep a close eye on your dog if they are not leashed.
Tip 3: Etiquette
As sweet as your pup may be, be respectful that not everyone loves dogs like you do. Don’t allow your dog to harass other hikers and be especially careful to watch your pet around kids and strangers’ dogs. Training your pup in basic commands is essential in order to keep them happy, polite and obedient. And last but not least, always pack those biodegradable poop bags and make sure to use them!
Tip 4: Enjoyment
Pack your pet’s favorite toys if there is space to run and play and bring treats to enjoy when you’ve finished your hikes. Be sure to know your pet and their personal level of endurance, as each breed differs when it come to agility levels and amount of exercise. If you have a breed that loves to run, find open spaces where they can roam. If your dog loves to swim, locate lakes and beaches with welcoming pet policies. If you have a small breed that isn’t particularly keen on long hikes, take them to public gardens or parks for leisurely, meditative strolls.
Hiking with your pup should always be fun, calming and joyful. Dogs are a woman’s best friend, after all.