It’s springtime in Colorado, and the great outdoors is calling. At Animal Care Center of Castle Pines, we love it when dogs get to enjoy exploring our state’s beautiful wilderness spaces. However, there are a few things you should know before camping, backpacking, or hiking with dogs in Colorado. Read on for our best tips about how to enjoy a backcountry trip with your dog while protecting the wildlife and preserving the environment.
Find Dog-Friendly Hiking Trails and Campsites
Not all trails permit dogs, so do a little research before you start your next adventure. You can use an app like All Trails to search for dog-friendly hiking and camping spots. Always keep dogs leashed, even on dog-friendly trails, so they will not disturb other dogs, wildlife, hikers, or mountain bikers. Dogs are not permitted on trails or in the backcountry of Rocky Mountain National Park; however, the Arapaho, Roosevelt, and Pike National Forests are all very dog-friendly.
Bring Enough Food and Water
Plan ahead and bring enough water and snacks for you and your companion. Dogs can easily become dehydrated hiking in hot Colorado weather, so bring a couple of extra water bottles. Don’t let your dog drink from a lake or stream—the water might contain dangerous bacteria like E-coli, or infection-causing parasites like Giardia. Give your dog the same water that you’re drinking. If you are backcountry camping and sanitizing stream water to drink, make sure you have the capacity to sanitize enough water for you and your dog.
Secure Dangerous Substances
The last thing you want in the back country is a poison emergency! Secure any dangerous substances like toothpaste, bug spray, and alcohol in dog-proof containers. Always keep dog food in a bear canister. Bears are just as attracted to the smell of dog food as they are to human food.
Keep Exploration Supervised
You should keep your dog confined to your campsite during the day and inside your tent with you at night when you sleep. Roaming pets might wander too far and not be able to find their way back to the campsite. Your dog could be injured in a fight or a fall, or be bitten by a poisonous snake. Never permit your dog to chase wildlife—encounters with wild animals can be very dangerous.
Pick Up All Doggy Poo
Always pick up your dog’s poop. Wild animals will be attracted to the smell and come to investigate. Doggy poo puts wild critters at risk of contracting parasites and infectious diseases. It could also contaminate fresh water or introduce toxins to the environment if left in plastic bags. Do mother nature a favor and bring a spare trash bag on your hikes for picking up any other poop bags or litter that you come across.
With a little planning, you and your dog will be able to have a grand time exploring Colorado while making some great memories together. Respect the trail rules and wildlife, bring extra water, and always pick up poop! If you have any questions about camping or hiking with your dog in Colorado, Animal Care Center of Castle Pines can help. Send a message to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will help with any specific safety concerns as you plan a memorable wilderness adventure for you and your pup.