Exploring the National Parks with Your Pet

Discovering new national parks can be twice as fun with your furry friends. If you feel overwhelmed at bringing your pet with you to your next outdoor adventure, read below to ensure you and your pal will have a more comfortable trip exploring new terrain together. 

Familiarize Yourself With Restrictions

While many national parks allow domestic animals, each one has its own different restrictions to adhere to. Make sure to do your research before leaving on your trip. Pet policies are often changing, so you’ll want to check in on the newest rules and regulations even if you’ve already been before.

In some parks, pets will be allowed on all trails while on a leash. In others, they may not be allowed on trails at all, so it’s best to do your due diligence when choosing the best park to visit together. 

Stick To Populated or Developed Areas

It is best to stay away from overly wild or dense areas when exploring with your pet to protect both of you from wildlife encounters. Wild animals can be aggressive when in the presence of unknown animals or feel threatened.

In emergencies, it can be difficult to know how to act to protect both you and your pet, so it’s best to avoid the situation altogether by staying in groups or in developed areas. 

Keep Your Pet on a Leash

To keep your pet safe while walking or hiking in national parks, make sure they are always on a leash. It is a rule across all national parks that the leash is 6 feet or shorter, so you can maintain more control of your pet if needed. 

You may prefer to create your own leash using webbing and dog leash clips. Bright colors can help you to keep track of the leash or alert others while on evening hikes, or you can simply create a leash that expresses you and your pet’s personal style. 

Practice “Leave No Trace” Principles

The preservation of the beauty of national parks requires that all visitors, including pets, leave no trace behind, including objects and animal fecal matter. While it may seem unnecessary to some that we must pick up our pet’s waste while outdoors in national parks, it is actually an important part of protecting the ecosystem.

Waste from non-native animals can introduce bacteria and diseases, which can contaminate the water and soil in the surroundings. This may even impact the native wildlife negatively and disrupt the ecosystem even further. Like in most public areas, it is best to bag your dog’s waste and dispose of it as usual. 

Bring the Essentials for Your Pet

It’s essential to bring water, snacks, and doggy bags with you while exploring new outdoor spaces with your pet. If you don’t have room in your bag, you can easily create your own dog backpack so your pet can comfortably carry some of their own items with them. 

This keeps both of your items separated and easily accessible when they need a quick refreshment or you need to pick up after your pet.  

When in doubt, always keep in mind the B.A.R.K. Ranger principles from the National Park Society each time you visit a national park. 

B.A.R.K. stands for:

  • Bag your pet’s waste

  • Always leash your pet

  • Respect wildlife

  • Know where you can go

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