There’s a reason for the “wild” in wildlife, and precautions DogTrekkers should take while enjoying our federal lands. You don’t want your dog chasing deer or elk, of course, and neither do you want her getting snake-bit, infested with disease-carrying ticks, hunted by mountain lions or coyotes, smacked down by a bear or smacked into by an off-highway vehicle or a mountain biker who comes cruising too fast down a trail. All are good reasons for leashing up, but happily, that’s your personal choice when hiking in a national forest.
The terrain where you hike and camp in a national forest is likely to be vastly different than at home, causing your pooch to tire out fast, so be sure to have plenty of water on hand and take frequent breaks if she’s panting a lot or her feet seem sore (decomposed granite can chew up pads fast). Before you let Buffy go exploring on her own in areas with cliffs and canyons, be aware that many dogs have no concept of heights and might not have time to stop if they encounter an abrupt drop-off, as a dog rescued earlier this year at Yosemite learned the hard way.