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Your Dog is Looking Forward to Spring, Too

 
Caesar and Cleo in the snow

 

Just like you, your dog is eager for the coming of spring. He or she is dreaming of long walks and hiking adventures to discover new places and activities. They probably need to work their way up to that longer adventure, too. Let’s see what to do.

Get in Shape
It’s so easy in the winter to come home and curl up together on the couch to watch reruns of the Dog Whisperer, but now it’s time to enjoy the big outdoors. Getting in shape is a wonderful activity to enjoy with your dog. Start off easy; neither of you are going to enjoy it if you push yourselves too early. Take an easy walk in the morning or late afternoon before supper. As your cardio endurance improves, move to longer walks with varying terrain.

Get Your Gear
Just like you may need to purchase a new pair of trail shoes, your dog may need a new collar and leash, If they are frayed or worn. As you are making your selections, keep in mind where you will be enjoying your future adventures. If you are going to a park, most of the ones that allow dogs require a lead that is no more than 6 feet long. Also, if your dog is a “puller,” a harness with different lead attachment points might help reduce the urge to pull. Follow this LINK for a collection of leads and collars.

Don’t Forget to Eat
When you head out for your hikes, you always take extra food and water for yourself, so don’t forget about your four-legged companion. Pack treats, food (depending upon the length of your hike), and extra water. Use your own thirst and hunger as a guide to when Fido might need a break, too. Collapsible bowls are lightweight and easy to tuck into your pack, or better yet, he can carry his own supplies in a doggie backpack. Remember to pack in a way that evenly distributes the weight, and the total weight of the pack should be no more that 20%-25% of the dog’s total weight. (As you are working through your training regimen to get ready for your hike, both of you should practice carrying the pack to get used to the extra weight.)

Bumble enjoying a day at work.Be Ready with First Aid
As you are packing your first aid kit, don’t forget to include items for Lassie, too. She may get a nick on her paw or take on a hitchhiker (like a tick) that will need to be addressed before the trip home. Bandages, an antiseptic, tweezers, and any medication she might take should be carried with you. Make your own kit or purchase one ready-made. You may also want to invest in a bandana treated with insect repellent or a dog-friendly insect repellent spray.

Be Considerate and Prepared
We love our dogs, but some people are allergic to them or just don’t want to be around them. Please be considerate and keep your dog under control at all times. Pack your poop bags and use them while on the trail – one thing we’re sure of … no one wants to step in poo. Check restrictions for the park you are visiting. Some parks don’t allow dogs on all trails. Make sure your dog has all his vaccinations up to date and is wearing an ID tag or is microchipped. It’s also a good idea to keep a recent picture with you, just in case you become separated.

We look forward to helping you get ready to hit the trail. Mast Stores are dog-friendly, just make sure they are well-behaved and on a lead when you visit. We also ask that they refrain from sampling the sweets in the Candy Barrel. See ya on the trail!

Here are some brochures that may be helpful in planning an outing with your best friend. The information includes a listing of the 10 Essentials for Hiking with Dogs, along with recommendations of dog-friendly trails in each community. 

Paws on the Trail: Valle CrucisBooneWaynesvilleHendersonvilleKnoxvilleWinston-Salem

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