By Lilly Milman

With the warm weather and a wide breadth of trails at your disposal, it’s tempting to head down to the Dewey Lake Trail System to enjoy the fresh air with your dog. A few safety precautions will help make it an even better outing.

1. Leash up before stepping on the trail 

While the Dewey Lake Trail System and Yakutania Point and Smuggler’s Cove trails are off-leash, it is recommended that dogs stay on the leash until after passing the trailhead — especially near the train tracks by Dewey Lake. “With the increase in train activity and since dogs hearing is more sensitive than ours, I encourage people to leash their dogs before they are near the railroad tracks,” said Katherine Selmer Moseley, of Paws and Claws Animal Shelter. “Even the best-trained dog can get spooked by a loud, unfamiliar noise.”  

2. Keep your off-leash dog close to you on the trail 

Regularly calling your dog back to you is essential to preventing potential dog fights while on a hike, Selmer Moseley said. In some cases, even leashing the dog back up when approaching an unfamiliar dog can be the best course of action since neither hiker can predict how their dogs will get along.           

3. Be cautious when bringing along treats 

There is nothing wrong with treat training, but it’s important to not have foods with strong smells out on the trails. This could potentially attract wild animals. Selmer Moseley recommends keeping high-value treats like hot dogs in a sealed plastic bag, to be opened only when giving the treat to the dog.  

4. Remember to bring extra water and a bowl 

It’s hard to deny your dogs the opportunity to swim in a lake like Lower Dewey, but that doesn’t mean they should be drinking from it. A dog can fall victim to illness from dirty water in the same way as people and should only drink clean water on a hike. Bring an extra water bottle and a bowl, and give your dog a water break from time to time. 

5. Keep an eye out on their feet 

Putting booties on your dog’s feet isn’t always necessary, especially on a shorter walk. However, regularly checking on your dog’s feet is a must. Make sure the ground isn’t too hot to walk on by checking the temperature with the palm of your hand and check for cuts on your dog’s paw pads when walking on rougher terrain.