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The United States offers you and your canine thousands of trails to hike and explore. Depending on your preferred climate, you can adventure out in the mountains, along the shore or in the hot desert. While different laws apply from place to place, there are some general guidelines to keep in mind. Here are a few pieces of solid advice no matter where you go.

Follow Trail Etiquette

Leash laws may vary, but if you know your dog is uncomfortable being approached by strangers, you may want to keep him attached to you. In addition, let other walkers know that you would rather they not stop for a meet and greet. If you are hiking during a vacation at the Grand Canyon in Arizona, ask a ranger what the park rules are. A court reporter Phoenix can assist you in the event of an incident that requires legal attention.

Research the Terrain

Understand that a five-mile converted railroad path in Florida will be unlike the same length trail in upstate New York. Either pick up a printed guide or check out one of the online apps that offer a detailed description of what you should expect. If you have a small dog with short legs, climbing over large rocks in the Adirondacks may be too strenuous. Likewise, if you are out with a long-haired St. Bernard in Key West, you could risk him overheating.

Prepare for Wildlife Encounters

Urban and rural areas both contain the possibility of running into non-domesticated animals. In a city, you may come across a scavenger such as a raccoon that could carry disease and turn aggressive if chased. On the other hand, visiting Alaska could introduce you to larger critters. If you encounter a creature that has been injured or have a confrontation, you should report it to the authorities who monitor human and wildlife interactions.

Pack Enough Water for Two

It is imperative that you and your companion both stay hydrated. Do not assume you will find water along the way that is safe for drinking. Have at least one bottle for every member of your party. If you are going to be out for a full day and want to cut the weight you carry, purchase a small purifying kit that will allow you to treat a natural drinking source.

Consider a Doggy Backpack

If your dog is healthy and able, buy a doggie backpack and share the responsibility of transporting gear. This is an excellent place to stash a first aid kit, map or small snacks. Make sure to fit the pack correctly to avoid rubbing or chafing.

Know What to Expect

Getting outdoors in Colorado or Montana might put you in the path of a mountain lion or cougar. Trekking in New Jersey or Pennsylvania could introduce you to a black bear. In either situation, try to stay calm and not panic. As cute as it may seem, keep your distance, and above all, do not try to share your food. Read up on living in harmony with wildlife before you set off.

Identify, Identify, Identify

In all cases, regardless of where you are, from Alabama to Wyoming, make sure your furbaby has a displayed tag. Include the pet’s name and your phone number. Typically, a cell number is preferable as you will likely be away from home when you get separated. Also, attach a medical collar if there are special needs that could require treatment.

Every region of the country has something unique to offer. Set aside time to explore with your dog, but remember to be a polite neighbor and share the trail. Leave it as you found it.

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