For excellent company on the Trans Canada Trail, look no further than humankind’s best friend. There are many benefits to bringing a dog along, not least that they’ll probably enjoy the change of scenery as much as you do. “Compared to the sidewalk, it’s a more fun way to give them the exercise they need,” says Chelsea Demings, a Halifax resident who recommends the parts of the Trail that wind through her city, showcasing its harbour and lakes. Here are some tips for planning an outing near you.
1. Dog friendly
We can’t always assume that our furry friends are welcome to walk or hike everywhere we are. Always make sure your dog is allowed to accompany you before you set out. Learn about the rules in place before you hit the Trail.
2. Be realistic
Make sure that the hike isn’t too demanding for your pet in terms of length, terrain and temperature. A dog’s limits will depend in part on its age, breed and size. Outings in hot weather should be avoided, as dogs react differently than humans in excessive heat. Come wintertime, depending on your dog’s size, low temperatures or deep snow should probably be avoided as well.
3. Come prepared
Consider what to bring to meet your companion’s needs and your own. Don’t head out without lots of water, a collapsible water dish, a leash, poop bags and dog-safe bug spray. For the photographers out there, you might want to add that camera to your list – you never know what cute photo opps you will find on the Trail with your pooch!
4. Be courteous
Be sensible about deciding if and when to go off-leash. If a trail section has a leash rule, respect it. Otherwise, make sure it isn’t too crowded, keeping in mind that not everybody feels comfortable with a canine on the loose. When you encounter other trail users, command your dog to heel or sit, or — if it can’t be relied upon to obey — put it back on the leash, so that they can pass without worrying about being sniffed, bitten or jumped on.
5. Savour the companionship
Andrea Isabelle loves walking on the Salt Marsh Trail in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia. It traverses a causeway, and “you’ll find yourself literally surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with sea birds soaring overhead and gentle waves swirling on either side,” she says. The great thing about visiting it with her black Lab is that dogs “appreciate a nice, comfortable silence. They motivate you to be present, without thinking too far ahead or behind,” she says. “And they remind you that a hike in the great outdoors is pretty darn exciting.”
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