Pets in Parks: 6 Helpful Tips for Camping and Hiking with Your Dog
What to know before bringing your furry friend on your next outdoor trip
Lucy The Doodle in Red Rock Canyon, NV - Photo Credit: Jamie Rees
We love dogs here at Pathloom - our dogs, your dogs, any dogs! Most parks are more than happy to welcome yourself and your furry friends in developed areas, but there are certainly some things to keep in mind when planning your trip. Rules and regulation vary depending on your destination, so it’s always a good idea to check the Park’s website before heading out. Here are some useful tips for you and your fuzzy buddy wherever you end up - accompanied by some of our favorite good boys and good girls submitted by the Pathloom community!
Want to show off your dog too? Send us a photo with location and your dog's name to firstname.lastname@example.org and we may feature your pup in a future article!
Milo in Green Mountain National Forest, VT - Photo Credit: Bryan Donoghue
Packing for a Pet
When embarking on an outdoor adventure with your pet, it is just as important to prepare for their needs as it is to prepare for your own. When traveling with pets, it is a good idea to keep a copy of vaccination records, or any important documents that pertain to your furry friend’s health. In addition to these, don’t forget to carry a recent picture of your pet - if you're anything like us you may have one or two (thousand) on your phone, and this can be very helpful in case your pet gets lost or separated from you! Since leashes are required in all National Parks and most public places as well, this means your pet will need to wear a collar at all times. The collar should have accurate tags and contact information, again in case they wander away from you.
Butters in Whitefish Lake State Park, MT - Photo Credit: Matt Bobbitt
Most National Parks allow pets in common areas, campsites and paved roads (though keep in mind many prohibit them in less developed areas). Some even have unique features to offer for them, such as the B.A.R.K Rangers Program. The National Park Service offers a map that shows which parks allow pets, as well as the few that do not. With this map, you can select the park you plan on bringing your furry friend to, which will direct you to the specific pet rules and regulations for that park.
If you’re looking for a special day to spend with your pet, the National Park Service also offers a “Things To Do” Bulletin for unique pet events at the Parks!
Maisie in Lake Tahoe, CA - Photo Credit: Megan Shapanka
Convenience is Key
While you’re out on approved trails with your pet, you’ll have to pack some extra items in addition to your normal solo travel bag. It is essential to keep your pets on a leash during your entire visit to a National Park. For more experienced dogs, we recommend this amazing retractable leash that compacts into the collar - ideal for steep slopes or climbs that you may face, where dragging a leash may be dangerous.
Nourishment is important to energy levels in order to have a happy, healthy hike. Collapsible silicone bowls are a very simple option that can clip onto the strap of your backpack. These bowls can be used for water, or to provide some pre-packed food in a fast and space-efficient way. Another option is this water bottle, which allows you to keep your pet hydrated without wasting water after they’ve quenched their thirst.
A common preparation for hikers is to have first aid materials on hand in case of emergency, and this extends to pets as well. This pet first aid kit is veterinary certified, and can even strap onto your pet’s harness to prevent additional weight on your own pack.
Yogi in Angeles National Forest, CA - Photo Credit: Nicc Peralta
Always clean up after your pet
A small pet disposal bag holder is easy to clip right next to the silicon bowls, or onto the leash itself. These are helpful to have on the go, but disposal of used bags is of the utmost importance - it should be done properly, without exception, with the rest of your trash in the designated dumping areas. Leaving used bags along the trails can be harmful for wildlife and disruptive to the environment, and makes for a less pleasant experience for the visitors who follow.
Sampson in Santa Clarita Woodlands Park, CA - Photo Credit: Tom Wentworth
Personal Pet Needs
Remember that different terrains can require different equipment for your furry friend. If you’re planning on visiting rough terrain, look into some dog booties to protect their paws from damage (There’s the added bonus here of watching their first try-on for some wholesome humor!) If you have an energetic dog, remember to bring some toys to keep them busy during the travel time in the car.
Kal-El in Crater Lake National Park, OR - Photo Credit: Paul Engel
Pet Best Practices
With pets as with humans, Leave No Trace principles apply, so it’s important to leave the space you’re in just how you left it. The National Park Service encourages campers and their furry friends to follow these principles with the previously mentioned “B.A.R.K Ranger” program, which outlines simple responsibilities for pet owners - like bagging your pet’s waste, always keeping your pet on a leash, respecting wildlife, and knowing where you’re permitted to take your buddy. Remember, failure to comply with park pet policy can result in fines or tickets!
Some parks, like Indiana Dunes National Park offer the opportunity for your pup to become a “B.A.R.K Ranger Ambassador” through volunteer programs to advocate for these best practices to fellow hikers and fur babies.
CampDog S'mores in Bryce Canyon National Park, UT - Photo Credit: Bryan Donoghue
With the right preparation, bringing your pet with you on adventures can be seamless and stress-free. The Outdoors is for everyone - even your furry friends!
Jamie Rees is a Las Vegas native currently pursuing a Journalism degree at UNLV. Look for more of Jamie's writing in the Pathloom blog in the coming weeks!
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