The sun is shining and it’s finally starting to feel like summer! It’s the perfect time to get out and explore the trails in Durham. You want to make sure that both you and your dog hikes safely and responsibly. Ask yourself these questions before starting out.

1. Is your dog ready to hike? Your dogs age and fitness level will determine if they can hike and what kind of trail to choose. If you have a young puppy, they may find the hike too strenuous on their joints and bones as they are still growing. An older dog may not have the stamina needed for a longer, rigorous hike.

2. Is your dog socialized and non-reactive? You will likely meet other people, dogs, cyclists and even horses on your hike. On narrow trails, this can make it a challenge to pass if your dog is fearful or aggressive. You may want to consider quieter trails and have strategies in place for meeting other people/animals on your hike.

3. Is your dog licensed and micro-chipped? This is crucial in the case of your dog losing his/her collar and getting lost in the forest. You want to ensure that they find their way back to you.

Now that you’ve determined whether hiking is a good for you and your dog, make sure to follow these rules.

1. Keep your dog under control and leashed unless in a designated leash free area. By keeping them on a leash you can prevent a number of problems including charging other hikers, encountering dangerous wildlife or running through poison ivy/oak.

2. Be considerate of other hikers. Not everyone likes dogs or they may be afraid of them. Give them the right of way. This will lessen the chance of a complaint and dogs being banned from a particular trail.

3. Do not allow your dog to drink from standing water. Standing water can harbour bacteria and parasites. Make sure to bring plenty of fresh water for you and your dog.

4. Take plenty of breaks. Be sure to hydrate every 30 minutes or so. If they are panting heavily, rest and find shade. Also bring snacks for you and your dog.

5. Make sure to take all your trash with you and clean up after your dog. There is nothing worse than stepping in someone else’s dog poop.

Now you’re ready to head out with your dog. Be sure to check out websites including www.durhamtourism.ca for trails in Durham Region. Have fun and be safe.

About the Author

Corry Hamilton is the owner of Taking The Lead (www.takingthelead.ca) — a pet care business that focuses on pet nutrition and well-being. Like many entrepreneurs, her journey towards creating a business of her own wasn’t a straight path, but she believes that no matter what life throws at you, you can always pick yourself up and move on. You never know where it may take you and make all your dreams come true. You can check out what Corry is up to on Facebook: www.facebook.com/TakingTheLead.CorryHamilton and Twitter: https://twitter.com/TakingTheLead07