Thanks to my mother-in-law, this photo popped up yesterday in my Facebook feed.
Once I finished laughing, I got to thinking that these dogs actually had the right idea. See, mum and I have been known to avid autumn, winter, and spring hikers (no snakes, and beggar’s lice and cheat grass haven’t cropped up yet). While the Montana weather and scenery can be excellent for wholesome family outings with the current crop of family dogs, there is a lot that goes into keeping everyone safe during hunting season. Here are a few tips to help you and your dogs enjoy the great outdoors:
- Dress to be seen–This is not the time for subtlety. Both you and your dog should wear bright, unnatural colors so that you can seen easily, even at a distance.
- Well-trained and obedient–From a distance, it can be all too easy to mistake a dog for whatever animal is currently in season. If you’re in less familiar areas, consider keeping your dog on a leash as as you hike. If your dog is off leash, make certain that it is well-trained and obedient. You may need to call your dog back to you on short notice.
- No dead stuff–Let’s face it: dogs can be disgusting, and it can be all too easy for dogs to snack on carcasses when out on the open range. Dogs can easily get sick from carasses. And as my own public service announcement, your eyes will likely water from the gas your dog will pass as it digests said something dead. Avoid the horror by keeping your dog away from things that it shouldn’t eat.
- Watch your step–Hike only on your own land, in areas in which you have the owner’s explicit permission to hike, and in known public areas such as state and national parks. This way, you lessen the chance of being near hunters or traps. Lastly, obey posted warnings. If an area is posted as “No Trespassing,” then do find someplace else to hike.
- Watch for traps–Some posted hunting areas allow for different types of traps to be used. Take care that neither you nor your dog step into such things. If you’re hiking in an area that allows traps, it’s a good idea to keep your dog on a leash. It’s an even better idea to find a different place to hike.
- Keep those vaccinations current–Odds are pretty good that more critters than deer and elk will be out and about. Make certain that your dog’s vaccinations, particularly rabies, is up to date. Depending on where you are hunting and the temperature, you might also consider vaccinating your dog against rattlesnake bites.
- Flea and tick–Depending on where you live and hike, the weather may not get as cool. As such, you may need to continue using flea and tick prevention throughout the entire year, not just during the warmer months. Talk to your veterinarian and follow her advice on how long to use flea and tick preventatives.
- Things that go boom!–Few dogs like loud noises, and even fewer dogs are rational when they are scared. Be mindful that if you’re in an area with a lot of gunfire and your dog is unfamiliar with those sounds, it may bolt and run.
I must confess to not taking this photo myself, but then again, I am seldom the photographer for many of the images you see on this blog. This photo arrived credit of my mother-in-law but originated at Peace and Paws, a New England-based non-profit that places dogs and helps to control the pet population by sponsoring spays and neuters. Giddy, Twinkle, and Nugget here make periodic public-service announcements of the photographic variety to help pass along useful information. And yes, Twinkle there is rocking that orange boa, so I couldn’t resist using this to talk about dog safety during hunting season.