Hitting the Trails….and Staying Safe

| Blog, News

Advice from the OHS Behavior and Training team for keeping your pet safe while hiking.

OHS alum Jake loves to hit the trails.

The Oregon Humane Society Technical Animal Rescue Team (OHSTAR) was called out this past weekend to help with a recovery effort at Cape Horn in Washougal. What started as a day of hiking in the Columbia River Gorge, ended in tragedy for one family. At the summit, surrounded by a two-foot wall, the family’s dog leapt over the edge and fell approximately 60 feet.

Sadly, this was not the first time that OHSTAR was called out to this site to assist with the recovery of a beloved pet. Two years ago, another dog had fallen in the same spot.

Both losses underscore the importance of keeping dogs on leash while hiking, particularly in areas that are steep. In some cases, a steep drop-off may be hidden by a structure, heavy brush or trees.

Accidents can happen when enjoying the great outdoors, but there are some important things you can do to keep your dog safe:

  • Don’t hike with your dog on a retractable leash.
  • Make sure collar or harness fits the dog. A Martingale collar may be a good choice.
  • Make sure your dog has solid recall skills, especially when distracted.
  • When you are near cliffs or steep edges, keep your dog close – not at the end of a leash – and have a good hold of the leash.
  • Prior to hiking, teach your dog to check-in with you often using “watch me,” “look” or a similar command.
  • Always look around and fully assess an area if you are going to take your dog off leash.

Some other things in mind when hitting the trails:

  • Make sure your pet has proper identification.
  • Bring plenty of water to keep your dog hydrated.
  • Make sure your pet is healthy enough for hiking.
  • Start with shorter distances first.

Visit our training library for more ways to strengthen the bond with your pet.

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