Hiking is a great way to change up your dog’s normal walk routine and give an opportunity to socialize and exercise them in a fun way. We live in a beautiful province full of National Parks, Provincial Parks, local trails and ‘off the beaten path’ adventures. Here are some important tips to keep in mind while hiking with your furry friend this year.
Provincial and National Parks require dogs to be on leash on all trails. While not everyone follows these rules, it’s important to remember why they are in place. These awesome parks need to be respected, off-leash dogs can cause destruction to nests and burrows of wild animals living in the parks. They may find themselves snacking on plants that could be harmful, or get stuck off the trail in the rugged environment. There can be hunters out a well. Keeping your dog on leash ensures he won’t get caught up in a trap or snare depending on the time of year. You also never know who else is on the trail. There could be other leashed dogs that may not be as friendly. Out in the wilderness is just about the worst place for a dog fight to break out.
Off trail, you can find and see many different examples of wildlife, which means your dog can too. Your dog may get too invasive and scare, or even harm small animals such as mice, rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, an assortment of birds and more. Besides harming them, they could end up harming your dog. Dogs with high prey drive may take off after a squirrel darting through the woods and not watch where he’s going. This could lead to him getting lost, taking a fall, or running into a predator.
Something to not forget about while out in the wilderness is that you are potentially now in something else’s territory. In New Brunswick, there are many different species that can harm you and your dog if you aren’t vigilant. This includes black bears, coyotes, bobcats, porcupine, moose etc. Always be aware of your surroundings and keep a close eye on your dog’s body language, it can give away if someone or something is in the distance.
For any outdoor adventure, any time of the year make sure you pack plenty of water for your dog (and you!) For longer hikes pack some kibble or other snacks for your dog as well. A great tool for this is a doggy backpack. You can store water bottles, sealed food and poop bags in a good sized pack. Some dogs may also benefit from booties. They can be extremely helpful to protect their paw pads from harsh terrain in summer or winter. In addition, some breeds may also enjoy a coat to keep them warm in the winter too! Depending on the time of year, wearing hunters orange is a safe call. There are vest’s for dogs so they won’t be mistaken for wildlife in the woods. A 6ft flat leash, attached to their favourite collar or harness, is strong and reliable to keep control of your dog on trails. It gives them some space to explore without getting too far from you. It also keeps you in control if you come across wildlife or other hikers. It’s not a bad idea to put together or purchase a doggy first aid kit as well. It can contain gauze, vet wrap, scissors/a knife, tape etc. This can help in an emergency to get you from the trail to your vet’s office.
Wherever you hike, it’s never a bad idea to bring a friend (and maybe their dogs too!) Noise, like a good conversation, can alert predators like bears that you are in the area and they tend to avoid humans. It also prevents you from spooking them if you get too close by accident. It’s always safer to hike with someone you trust, and your dog will probably thank them with plenty of kisses!
I’ve formulated a list of places to check out with your dog and get the adventures started! These are all public parks in New Brunswick, but there are plenty more places to hike off the beaten path. Don’t forget, safety first for you AND your furry best friend.
- Fundy National Park (Alma, NB)
- Kouchibouguac National Park (Rexton, NB)
- Mount Carleton Provincial Park (Saint-Quentin, NB)
- Anchorage Provincial Park (Grand Manan, NB)
- Irishtown Park (Moncton, NB)
- Mapleton Park (Moncton, NB)
- Riverfront Trail (Riverview, Moncton, Dieppe, NB)
- Rotary St-Anselme Park (Dieppe, NB)
- Dobson Trail (Riverview, NB)
- Mill Creek Nature Trail (Riverview, NB)
- Centennial Park (Moncton, NB)
- Bluff Trail (Sussex, NB)
Written by: Emma Foster, Veterinary Assistant