Going hiking with a dog in Lake Tahoe? Read this first | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Going hiking with a dog in Lake Tahoe? Read this first

From knowing when to leash to what supplies to bring, a day out on the trails with your dog can be safe and fun.

When hiking through the many trails that surround Lake Tahoe, you've probably encountered some furry friends. Since this is Tahoe, and where humans are, dogs will likely follow, it's important to be responsible with your pet while also enjoying the beautiful area.

Responsibility doesn't just come in the form of making sure your dog is behaving properly, but it also means bringing appropriate supplies for your dog and knowing what your dog can handle.

"The trail is a great place for dogs, but just as in town, there are a few basic guidelines that dog owners should follow to avoid conflicts with other users and to keep dogs happy and healthy," said Chris Binder, director of trail operations at the Tahoe Rim Trail Association.

According to Binder, knowing when and where to leash your dog is a great place to start when taking your dog out on a trail. Trailheads are usually an active place where other trail users with dogs may likely be, so keeping a dog leashed in and around those areas can help avoid a troublesome situation.

Also, as far as leashes go, keeping a dog leashed when entering uncertain terrain is a good idea to avoid any accidents — trails can be very steep as well as slippery at times. And regardless of location, having your dog close enough to be under voice command can keep you happy on the trails. Once established on a trail, unleashing your dog should be OK as long as you're aware of your surroundings and keep your dog nearby.

Dogs will more than likely use the bathroom at some point, and although this should be common sense for an owner, disposing of the animal's waste is a must in trail etiquette. "The biggest complaint we hear regarding dogs is about abandoned waste bags on the side of the trail," said Binder. "Not only is it unsightly, but it poses a health risk as well." Having your dog up to date on vaccines is important before spending too much time in the wilderness — being in the great outdoors also comes with the risk of contracting an illness your canine may be susceptible to.

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Aside from bringing a waste bag (and maybe an additional bag for the waste bag), some other supplies can make the hike with your dog more enjoyable for both parties. If planning on being gone a significant amount of time, bringing fresh water and a collapsible bowl will help your dog stay hydrated.

Having some snacks or food on hand can help with the dog's stamina. It's a good idea to not feed the dog a large meal before going out — a small meal beforehand, followed by some snacks along the way, will help avoid overloading your dog.

A towel can come in handy for a lot of reasons, too. Your dog may need to dry off after crossing a stream or you can let the towel double as a blanket for the dog to rest on.

No dog owner wants their pet to be injured either, so a first-aid kit, or even a snakebite-kit, can prove to be invaluable when hiking in remote areas. In the event an emergency is encountered, having the phone number and address of the nearest veterinary hospital to your hiking area can be a lifesaver.

And lastly, just knowing your dog and what he or she can handle can be one of your most important tools. If the hike is particularly long and your dog is going to be on some rough terrain, some protection may be in order. "Use dog booties or topical barriers to protect paw pad cuts and scrapes, especially during winter," said Binder. "And make sure any pack they wear is properly fitted and not too heavy."

Most dog owners probably have a good idea of their dog's physical limits, but knowing some of the telltale signs of overexertion is important. Any excessive panting, drooling or weakness could be a sign that your pup needs a break.

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