Top 5 Reasons To Go For An Autumn Hike With Your Dog
Avid outdoorsman Kevin Roberts doesn’t like to be shut indoors… especially at this time of the year. He and his pack take advantage of the milder temperatures to explore their beautiful surroundings with a long and brisk autumn hike. Here are just a few of the reasons why you should be doing the same, as well as some tips to remember before you and your dog head out.
Ah, autumn! I love this time of year. The weather is lovely, nature is at its most spectacular and the dogs have plenty to sniff at. There are tons of reasons why I use every opportunity I can to go for an autumn hike with my pack, but there’s not enough room in this post. So I’m just going to keep it at my top 5 reasons to go for a fall hike with your dog:
- The bugs are gone… well, mostly. When the temperatures start to dip, our “little friends” start to die off or find a place to go and sleep for the winter (well, most of them anyway). That means you will be enjoying the experience and not swatting for your life (or picking ticks off your dog when you get back home).
- Cooler, but not too cold. I love winter, but even for my fair weathered friends, autumn is the ideal time to get out and enjoy the outdoors. Yes, this season is a little cooler, but if you aim for a middle-of-the-day hike, you can still work up a sweat. Yet, at the same time, the cooler temperatures mean that Fido will be able to romp to his content without over heating.
- Shape up those paws. Fall hiking will help toughen up your dog’s pads and paws for the upcoming winter. Be sure to monitor your dog’s feet for cracks, and use a product like Muttluks Paw Balm to help keep them in tip-top shape.
- Bye, bye birdies. Fall is when our fine feathered friends start to pack up and leave for warmer climates. Birds, such as Canada Geese, start to group in larger numbers in preparation for their fall migration. Keep your eyes peeled for birds who may be temporary visitors to your area – they won’t be around for too long.
- The colours. Mother Nature puts on a show every autumn for us. With all her hard work, you should get out there and enjoy it. Snap a few photos of your best doggie friend amidst the colorful leaves – orange, yellow and red make a breathtaking backdrop.
I’ve learnt a few things in my years of hiking adventures and want to pass them along to you. Before you go, here are some things to consider before you leave for your autumn hike:
- Hunting season is here. It’s not just hikers who enjoy being outside in the fall – it also means hunting season. Plan accordingly: Blaze orange is seen as the safest clothing choice to ensure you are seen. You can also dress your dog in a blaze orange vest. Research before you head out to see if the area you plan to hike allows hunting. Keep your dog on a leash, as sudden gunshots can frighten even the most well behaved dog, causing them to bolt. Carry a cellphone, and ensure your dog has a collar ID with your phone number on it.
- Be bear aware. Bears are at their most active during the fall. Make noise, sing, talk to your dog, or hike in a group – just make lots of noise. Most bears are shy and will leave the area if they know you are coming. What’s worse than running into a bear while hiking? Running into a surprised bear while hiking! Bears are a smart reason to keep your dog on the leash, as many dogs will charge ahead, bark at the bear, then bolt back to you for protection. Now that’s something you don’t want your dog to fetch!
- Dress for the weather. Dressing for the fall can be tricky, with the temperatures climbing during the day, and plummeting again once the sun goes down. Think layers! You can add or remove layers as the day goes on. Your dog may appreciate a lightweight coat for chilly fall days. A quality dog coat allows his legs to move properly and will keep him dry. If you have a dog who likes to roll, especially when the ground is wet, you’ll want to spend the extra money and buy a coat that will keep him warm.
- Pack a snack. You and your dog will be burning up more calories than usual. Bring your dog’s regular kibble for a midday snack. Use this feeding opportunity for some on-the-trail impromptu training. Remember: the more calories your dog has to burn, the more miles he can cover and the warmer he will be. Be sure to bring enough water for you both as well.
- Consider going hands free. I wear a trekking belt when I am out for a walk with my pack. It’s a wide, sturdy belt that I attach the dogs to. The dogs wear walking harnesses and are attached to me with an eight-foot leash. This leaves my hands free to hand out treats and snap pictures… two things I seem to do a lot of!
Now get out there, have fun with your dog and bask in the wonders this amazing season has to offer!