My favorite vacation involves packing up a small tent, a backpack and some food and heading out with my husband for a hike or a bike ride. Even if we only manage a few days away, I really enjoy the seclusion, and the time to think and talk. It feeds our relationship.
I love the quote, “Take only photographs and leave only footprints” and I always make the effort to leave the environment exactly as we found it. On our last walking trip, we took our dog. It was quite a learning curve, because although we’d traveled with our dog many times, this was the first time we’d tried a green vacation with our dog.
Tips for Hiking with Your Dog
Use Biodegradable Poop Bags
I always pick up my dog’s droppings when we’re out and about. Plastic bags can last a long time in the environment, so I made sure to purchase biodegradable poo bags. That way, if we were out on the trails, I could pick up the poo and bury it off to the side of the trail, and I’d know I wasn’t harming the environment with plastic.
Keep Your Dog on a Leash
I know our dog is well behaved, and would come back when he’s called, but I never let him off leash when we’re hiking. Dogs are predators, and their instincts are strong. Our dog is a whippet, and if he saw a small creature run across his path, he would be off after it, and would have a very good chance of catching it.
For the sake of the birds and wildlife that live in the forests, I keep him restrained. No doubt he’d rather be running loose, but I’d feel dreadful if he killed something.
photo credit: cogdogblog
Know How Far Your Dog Can Walk
We can walk for miles with our dog. However, walking does limit how far we can travel. If we want to take him further than he can walk, we either need to take the car, or find an alternative means of transport that is dog friendly, as well as environmentally friendly.
Enter the bike dog trailer. This neat little trailer attaches to the back of a bicycle, and is safe and comfortable for a dog to ride in. When we stop for the night, it converts to a kennel for him to sleep in. It’s not cheap, and you do need to train your dog to relax in it, but if you’re going to make a habit of biking trips with your dog, it’s a great investment.
Don’t Give Your Dog a Bath (Unless He Stinks)
Dogs can become quite dirty while they’re hiking. They love to roll in dust and mud, and they find the aroma of dead animals particularly appealing. I’ve found that the less I bathe my dog, the better his coat repels dust and dirt. So, save water, don’t bathe him and the natural oils in his coat will allow you to brush the dirt off him.
Of course, that doesn’t apply to “eau de dead animal,” in which case you really do need to shampoo him. Try to choose a dog shampoo that contains no parabens or sodium lauryl sulphate.
Think About Bug Bites
Depending on where you live, hiking along forest trails may leave you and your dog susceptible to attack by biting insects, including ticks and mosquitoes. There are many shampoos and sprays that contain natural insecticides such as tea tree oil or neem oil which will help to repel insects, without the need to apply chemicals to your dog. Take care with natural oils because natural doesn’t necessarily mean non-toxic. Packing a first aide kit for your dog is a must.
We found that it really doesn’t take too much effort to enjoy a green vacation with our dog. A bit of forethought means we can share our trip with our four legged family member, while taking care of our environment. That’s a win-win situation.