Hiking: It's Not Just for the Humans
Are you looking for the "woof-fect" hiking partner to join you on the trail for the 2022 Hillsborough County Hiking Spree? Look no further than your four-legged friend! Dogs can be great buddies to join you on outdoor adventures, since they're always ready and eager to explore new places. Enjoying outdoor walks with your pet offers health benefits for both of you and can help deepen the bond between animal and owner.
With a bit of preparation, participating in the Hiking Spree with your dog can be a fun and safe experience….and can end with your dog earning their own Hiking Spree prize!
Be sure your pet is welcome on the trail.
Look at the trail list to identify participating pet-friendly locations throughout Hillsborough County, including seven neighborhood parks, four conservation parks, six nature preserves, and three Florida state parks. Pets must be restrained at all times on a hand-held leash and waste must be scooped and disposed of in the trash at all locations.
For specific guidelines on bringing your dog to Florida state parks, review their pet policy before visiting.
Prepare your pet for the adventure.
Start with shorter walks to build up endurance for a longer day on the trails. Puppies and older dogs may not have the energy to trek long distances. Pay attention to your pet's breathing and work breaks into your journey to avoid overexertion. In addition to bringing the required leash and poop bags, be sure to have food and water (along with a bowl) to keep your dog hydrated and energized. Even when it is not summer, Florida heat can still appear so check out these tips on how to keep you dog safe in any Florida season. And don't forget to keep your pet up to date on heartworm preventative, along with flea and tick medication.
Practice good manners and be aware of your surroundings.
All plants and animals are protected in Hillsborough County conservation parks and nature preserves, so don't allow your dog to chase or dig on the trails. Always keep your pet on a leash and stay on marked trails to avoid confrontation and potentially dangerous situations with wildlife. Yield to other hikers and don't assume that other dogs that you meet on the trail are friendly. Be aware of your surroundings and don't allow your pet to forage or burrow in brushy areas where poisonous insects, snakes, or frogs may be lurking. No matter where you hit the trails with your furry friend, both humans and furry friends must follow all rules when out at County parks.
Never leave your pet in a locked car.
Buddies stick together, and the same goes for you and your pet when traveling to and from the trail in your vehicle. Dangerous temperatures can build in an enclosed car in minutes, even on cooler days. Keep your dog with you at all times.
The Hillsborough County Hiking Spree runs through March 31, 2022, so grab your pup's leash and head out on an outdoor adventure soon. After completing eight hikes, you and your dog can earn prizes like a patch, a medallion for a walking stick, or a pet bandana. For more information and to register, visit HCFLGov.net/HikingSpree.