Some pointers for hiking with children and dogs
If you are planning an outdoor experience, it is possible to include the whole family – which probably means your children and dogs. There are just some special precautions and preparations you have to do and think about before you leave. Both you, your children and your pets will gain a lot from the experience. It is great for exercise, education, and most of all, bonding.
When you’re expecting hot weather, your dog will be needing lots of water to drink. Surfaces could also be hot: you will be wearing shoes, but the dog does not have such protection. Dog booties are perhaps something you may want to look at. Be sure to allow the dog to rest in the shade and keep your animals, as you would yourself, well hydrated.
In the same way that you are vulnerable to bees, ticks, etc. so are dogs. Unless your dog is allergic to bees, stings probably will not bother your dog much. Ticks are a bigger issue and precautions should be taken. Speak to your vet about repellents. Thorough tick searches should be done, both at the end of a hiking day and at the end of the trip.
Never just pull at a tick with tweezers as this could leave the head of the tick inside your dog’s skin, leading to infection. Tick removal tools are available. For the same reason, the tick can not be dealt with effectively by burning or applying Vaseline, if in doubt, consult your veterinarian. Prevention is better, though, and a repellent is recommended.
There are other animals that could be encountered on your trail. It will be best to avoid areas where snakes can be found when you are with your dog. It is possible to train your dog to avoid snakes such as rattlesnakes. Other animals are generally not impressed with the presence of dogs and they may perceive your dog as a threat. Keep your dog in sight at all times. It is important that your pet is up to date with vaccinations, particularly rabies.
As with knowing basic first aid for the people with you, you need to be prepared for dog injuries as well. It may be a good idea to learn dog CPR. Also be aware of which plants are poisonous to dogs. If there are other conditions such as diabetes, you need to know how to deal with these. Keep a few items in your first aid kit, as you may experience emergencies that require your dog tick remover or sting ointment. Peroxide should also be included. Your dog will most likely enjoy the experience of the great outdoors as much as you do.
Your children will enjoy the experience as well. If hiking is your thing, you can introduce your children to it at quite a young age. Begin this early to build up some fitness, beginning with walks in parks and go on from there. You could bring very small children in a carrier if you have the endurance.
Keep all sorts of obstacles in perspective. Problems that you experience at home will happen while you are away. When there are issues, stop, regroup, have a drink or snack and carry on.
If things are not going quite according to plan, such as a sudden storm, change tack – puddles are fun. Snowmen or snow angels are lots of fun too.
Be original and keep your children entertained. A trip in the wild is a first-rate opportunity for education, be this about survival or about plants and animals or many other facts about nature and conservation.
When children are uncomfortable they can make everyone else feel this way too, and you will hear all about it. They will need to be warm and not too hot. They will need layers of clothing in cold temperatures. It will probably pay you to invest in some good quality clothing. Also be prepared to be carrying some of it!
Be gentle and understanding, but firm. Usually, some coaxing can keep them going. An adventure in the outdoors should be lots of fun. Do not make it too demanding and you may find your children planning the next trip.
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