If you are a backcountry and adventure enthusiast like me, you probably enjoy a little non-human company while out on your hikes. You probably also own a canine. These furry, four legged friends can be a great hiking, camping, and fishing partners in Yellowstone Country....you just need to make sure to follow the rules and be prepared. Yellowstone Country is a wild place not only for humans, but also for your dogs. Following these rules and regulations will assure you and your pup make it back home safe and sound, just like my dog Huckleberry above. This was after a 20 mile hike. To say he was worn out is an understatement.
1.) There are no dogs allowed inside Yellowstone National Park outside of the parking lots and on leashes. THIS IS FOR THEIR and YOUR OWN SAFETY. There are already enough wild animals in the park...the last thing you want your furry friend to do is run up to a grizzly, bison, or moose. It can only lead to problems. If you bring your dog into the park make sure they are on a leash and in the designated parking areas. This is also the case in Grand Teton National Park.
2.) Outside of the park it is pretty much fair game, but make sure to check regs for the area you are exploring and use common sense when near roads. There can be some crazy drivers up here in the summer time....make sure to keep your dog on leash when near roads or busy parking areas.
3.) Bring plenty of water for you and your pup. I always carry a collapsible water bowl in my pack so the little guy can get some hydration out in the field. A CamleBak also assures you have enough water for the whole day.
4.) Another great way to hydrate your dog is to go for a swim. Most dogs love water...and if they don't this actually might help: Take them for a long hike on a hot day. Again make sure to carry plenty of water. Being that most dogs have a fur coat, they'll get hot and naturally want to jump in the water. It especially helps if you or another dog lead by example and take a dip. Be careful though, the lakes up here can be quite chilly, but perfect for long hot days!!
5.) I always bring a doggie emergency medical kit in my car. This is a great thing to have JUST IN CASE. I don't plan on my dog getting tangled up in barbed wire, but it can happen, especially around here. Every plant and even some animals have prickers or thorns up here. Being prepared will set your mind at ease and help you be ready in case something does happen. Some basics include: Gauze pads, antibacterial wipes, some saline solution to wash out any obstructions in the dog's eyes, and last but not least a doggie first aid book. Being prepared will only help make your outing that much more enjoyable.
6.) When dealing with other animals, let your dog do his / her thing. They can read other animals movements and moods way better than we can. Sure they will be curious, but the last thing you want is to A.) create more commotion in the situation and B.) call your dog back with a bear or moose following it. Dogs are generally much more agile then we are. Try to prevent encounters in the first place, but if it comes down to it, let the dog do his thing. Also, always make sure to bring bear spray into the backcountry, whether you are hiking with a dog or not...this is a safe thing to have. Bears are generally scared of dogs though in my experience.
7.) Have fun!! Many dogs are bred to be out in nature using all their heightened senses. There is so much to see and smell that no matter what breed, or age, or type of dog.....they will enjoy it. Having company in the BC will help you enjoy it that much more as well.