Tips for Taking Your Dog on Outdoor Adventures
Today’s tips are from Beth (and Sprocket) of 3Up Adventures. I met Beth and Sprocket in Salt Lake City a few years ago and she kicked my butt on a group hike. I live at sea level, there’s no way I can keep up with this wonder woman! She regularly checks mountain peaks off of her list…and some of them are 14ers!
Now that it is summer, I wanted to feature some tips for adventuring with your pet to encourage safe practices for both pet and pet owner. Since I don’t have a dog, Beth volunteered to share some tips.
Beth, you document your adventures with your dog, Sprocket, on your blog and on social media. Can you tell us a bit about your life with Sprocket and the types of adventures you take?
Basically, Sprocket is the best adventure buddy I could ask for. He’s (fairly) understanding of the fact that I need to go to work as a teacher an only starts giving me pitiful “Is it the weekend?” eyes on Thursday and Friday. During the summer and on weekends though, we’re usually out exploring Colorado (and often, the rest of the Mountain West). Our favorite thing to do is hike to mountain peaks; Sprocket is well trained to know that we’re going to go up and then when there is no more up we’re going to go down. He’s so joyful on the trail that it always helps me really settle in to being in nature.
In the summer and on school vacations, I usually try to road trip somewhere and Sprocket can always be counted on to non-judgementally listen me sing terribly, be totally excited about random dirt road exploration, and to wait patiently while I do some internet work at coffee shops. When he was just 12 weeks old, he went on his first long road trip so his conception of home is probably the Jeep more than anywhere. Some people might consider me overly attached to my pup but all the time that I’ve spent with him has really helped him develop into a really well behaved dog who is super easy to travel with.
If somebody is new to taking their dog outdoors (long hikes, camping trips, etc.), what 3 tips would you share with them?
Make sure your dog is ready for your adventure: Build up to mileage, elevation, and intensity: While you might have been going to the gym every day, was Fido’s exercise confined to a couple mile walk around the neighborhood? Another place I see dogs getting into trouble is sore paws; to go from asphalt or grass to mountain scree is a recipe for disaster. Slowly build your dog up to more miles on surfaces that can hurt tender cityslicker pup pads. My pup is really comfortable on anything Class 3 and possibly on some low Class 4 stuff but you have to know your pup! No one can tell you what they’re capable of.
You’re going to plan your day around your dog: Making sure that the temperature in your vehicle is okay for your pup is key when you’re taking creature comfort breaks at restaurants or coffee shops. I usually drive through a town scoping out a spot where I can sit outside since I usually hike in the cool morning hours to avoid high elevation afternoon thundershowers; this approach may or may not work for you depending on how your dog deals with people and other dogs. I’ve also push Sprocket’s evening meal back pretty late in the day so he knows that he’s going to get fed then and we’re not usually out on an adventure at dinner time; I get super hangry and while he’s way more chill than me I don’t want him to feel bad!
Spend lots of time with your dog, it makes all the difference:
I feel really lucky that I’ve had the opportunity to spend a lot
of time with Sprocket. When he joined my family as a tiny puppy, I was just finishing up grad school and he definitely spent some afternoons under my desk as I finished up my research project and then just a few weeks later we hit the road for a month long adventure
. That road trip meant that I had TONS of time to hang out with him, start him out on short (<1 mile) hikes, walk him around towns, and get him used to people and time in the car. After that trip, he’s remained a really really central part of my life and I never leave him behind on adventures that he’s capable of. I truly believe that pays off in terms of his pretty awesome behavior on the trail, around town, and at home.
What is one piece of gear/clothing/equipment/food that Sprocket would consider an essential for his adventures?
Lots of water! Sometimes he’s just not interested in it but he’s a big black dog that uses evaporation to cool himself (aka panting). I usually carry between 2-3L of water for a good day hike (which for us is ~6-12 miles) and I probably get one of it!
What is one piece of gear/clothing/equipment/food that YOU would consider an essential for your adventures?
Always having food on hand is key for me! I tend to get hungry super quickly out hiking (see my hangry comment above) so I always carry a range of snacks on the trail. A lot of the time I don’t touch them but they’re sort of a security blanket to me when I’m out for a long day.
Any last words of wisdom for adventurous dog owners/pet parents?
Essentially, you’re going to get out of your dog what you put into him or her: they’re going to want to please you when you make their needs central to your activities and travels. Do your part to make sure that your pup is a good hiking citizen to better the situation for adventurous dogs everywhere.