Now that we’ve been in the middle of COVID-19 for several months, many dog owners are ready to take their pups out for more walks and hikes. It’s fun to get out of the routine and explore new places that can give us exercise and experiences. Dogs have a 1,000-10,000 better sense of smell than ours, so for them, going to new places can be even more rewarding than you might think.
We are lucky that the Pacific Northwest offers nearly endless options for parks, hikes and dog parks at our disposal. Being at the top of the Willamette Valley, we are literally on the edge of forests and at the gateway to the Columbia River Gorge, one of the most scenic areas in Oregon.
To ensure you get the most out your adventures, there are a few things to consider to keep it safe and fun. Summer brings on flea season, so you will want to make sure that both you and your dog are protected. There are several products that can keep them safe such as Flea and Tick Wipe-On Defense by Eugene-based Mad About Organics. Other favorites are Flea Flicker! Tick Kicker by Ark Naturals and Flea & Tick Spray by Vet’s Best. When applied liberally to the fur, particularly on the sides and belly, your dog should remain both flea and tick-free. These are environmentally-friendly products as well as safe for kids, adults and of course, our dogs.
It’s important to check your leashes for wear and tear. Time and weather can break down the fibers, allowing small rips to form and latches to fail. Harnesses are generally recommended for hiking, as it allows for the weight of the dogs’ body to be dispersed evenly. No one wants their dog to slip their collar, particularly on trails with drop-offs.
In addition, it’s always important that your dog wear ID. Check your dog’s tag to make sure it’s still readable and that all information is accurate.
It’s important to always have water for both you and your pup when out on longer walks and on hikes. Many pet owners forget this and it can be very scary, particularly if it’s warmer than 60 degrees. Because dogs cannot sweat to cool themselves, they can overheat very quickly so water is crucial. There are plenty of options for water bottles with special troughs attached to create a bowl for your dog as well as foldable bowls that you can easily fit in a pocket.
If your walk or hike is going to be a few hours or even overnight, you will want to bring food or snacks to keep your pup’s energy level up. There are many options for this. If you feed kibble, you can easily put some in a bag. For lighter-weight options, freeze dried foods and treats are excellent choices. Portland-based Northwest Naturals, Lake Oswego-based Uncle Larry’s, Stella & Chewy’s, Open Farm and K9 Naturals all offer excellent food and treat choices, just to name a few.
So go out there and hit the parks and trails! Just make sure to check trail availability, as some may still be closed due to the virus. Some of our favorites include:
- 1,000 Acres located at the Sandy River Delta in Troutdale offers a very easy-going experience for all levels and close to Portland-Metro
- Wahclella Falls in the Columbia River Gorge near Bonneville Dam offers a 1.8 mile loop-currently closed at the time of this printing, however, keep checking as this is a wonderful hike that shouldn’t be missed when it re-opens!
- June Lake Trail on Mt. St. Helens offers hiking at 3,100 feet elevation in an old lava flow area.
- For more of a workout and moderate hiking, check out Hamilton Mountain on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge for a hearty 7.5 mile hike and Mirror Lake to Tom Dick and Harry Ridge in the Mt. Hood National Forrest-a moderate 5.8 mile hike accessible from Highway 26.
So get out and have fun with your dogs!