Exploring The Pines With Your Canine
Exploring the Pines with your pooch can be great fun if you are prepared.
You know what it’s like….you start putting your gear, snacks and water in your backpack, and you grab your jingling keys. And then it happens. You feel someone’s eyes on you. You turn around … that downcast expression, that face. How could you leave me? Or maybe your dog is endlessly optimistic that when you leave you will take them with you. But you have to shut the door and go without them. Or do you?
Be prepared when heading out on your own (or to Pinelands Adventures) with your dog. The American Hiking Society has a nice list of recommendations to consider when going on a hike with your dog. First, make sure that dogs are permitted in the park or forest you are hiking in. Dogs are permitted in Wharton State Forest in the Pine Barrens – but must always be on a leash of no more than six feet. The leash requirement is to protect you, your dog, other hikers and wildlife. Dogs leave a scent that can disturb wildlife nesting and other behaviors. Other hikers you encounter may not want to be approached by your dog. And your dog may venture into places that are unsafe for them and for you – especially when tracking a scent, a rabbit, a deer, the Jersey Devil or whatever else you might encounter! Be prepared for your dog’s needs during a hike. Make sure you have food, water and anything else he/she will need depending on the weather conditions and the terrain. See this gear list from the American Hiking Society for ideas.
Poop… Bury or bag?
What to do when your dog has to drop a deuce? There are two choices. You can carry a spade and bury the poop off the trail at least 6 to 8 inches below the surface and 200 feet from the trail, or you can bag it and pack it out. Pine Barrens soils are sandy and do not have many nutrients. We recommend you bag and carry out your dog’s poo when hiking in the Pine Barrens. You can double bag the poop and attach it to the outside of your backpack with a carabiner. Bonus Tip – I use the all-natural cedar oil (a quite smelly tick/bug repellent) spray – as a result you can’t smell the poop bag!
First aid for your pooch
Hopefully, when you head out you bring a first aid kit. There are many common items found in your first aid kit that can aid your pet should something crop up along the trail. Having tweezers to get something out of their paw, bandages, and gauze pads could come in handy. You might want to consider adding a doggie bootie to this kit in case you need to protect a wound to the paw.
Ticks! Ticks are an unfortunate reality of hiking in the Pine Barrens (or anywhere in the USA) for people and for dogs. Check your dog (and yourself) for ticks no matter where you hike in the United States. Run your hands over your pet looking for swollen spots where a tick might have burrowed into your pet’s skin. Review these tips from the Humane Society of the United States for how to remove a tick safely. There are medications that help prevent fleas and ticks from finding your pet attractive. Ask your vet for more information. This page from VCA Animal Hospitals has an in-depth description of the types of ticks you might find on your pet. It is a good idea to check your dog for ticks daily regardless of whether you were hiking.
To paddle or not to paddle with your pooch
Can I bring my dog on my paddling trip? We are often asked this question and have even addressed in our trip FAQs. Well-behaved dogs are welcome on self-guided trips, but we do not recommend that you bring a dog on one of our river trips if it is their first time in a canoe or kayak. It is better to start on a lake where you can go back to shore if the dog doesn’t take to being in a boat. You are in a wilderness area and once you’re on the river, there is no way to rescue you if your dog isn’t happy, which can happen. Please be aware that you will be on a bus with other Adventurers, so make sure your dog is comfortable being around other people. We ask that all dogs remain leashed while on our property and our buses. Dogs are not allowed on our guided trips.
The Whole Dog Journal has an excellent article on paddling with dogs that can help you decide if you are ready to try this. Remember don’t bring your dog on your self-guided trip with Pinelands Adventures if this is their first time.
Considering backpacking with your dog? Check out these tips from REI, Inc.