SHERIDAN — Around Sheridan, there are plenty of ways for canine companions to explore the outdoors. From rain gear to phone apps, dogs can also be helpful and protected when venturing outside.
AllTrails provides information about local hiking locations including, “Best Dog-Friendly Trails in Bighorn National Forest.” The app can be filtered to show the best dog-friendly spots.
According to AllTrails, the No. 1 trail for dogs based on user responses is Tongue River Canyon, followed by East Tensleep Lake, West Fork of Big Goose Creek and Cloud Peak Skyway: Ten Sleep to Buffalo.
With fewer rattlesnakes present and hunting season just beginning, dogs still face some risks when exploring outdoors. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department said dogs should wear hunter orange vests, collar or leash (or at least a bright color) while in a hunting area, whether they are with a hunter or non-hunter.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife said the keys to keeping dogs safe during hunting season are: know when it’s safe to go out, learn where the hunting areas are, use sight and sound to your advantage and keep your pet contained or on a leash.
Many people have access to plenty of gear to help with the success of fall and winter sports seasons. Pet supply and sports equipment stores across the nation feature gear for dogs, too.
Waterproof snack packs with poop bag dispensers, Pooch Pouches for small dogs who might not make it all of 10 miles on a trail, life jackets, safety vests, element jackets for wind and snow, insect repellent blankets and a dozen different types of boots to protect paws from sharp objects and cold weather line the shelves at a local pet supply store.
Whether a dog is a companion for nature walks or sporting, proper equipment can add a new layer to outdoor experiences with canine friends.
American Hunter said a dog vest that protects from stickers and burrs is a must-have for dogs, as well as a tracking system, collapsible bowls for food and water, dog boots, an e-collar training tool and medical kit.
When winter comes, WGFD said bringing dogs along while ice fishing can be dangerous. Keeping paws free of ice with a pad, blanket or dog boots can keep paws from icing up.
Warmth is also vital — dogs should wear a neoprene vest with flotation in case they fall through a pressure ridge, thin ice or an open pocket, Robb Keith, Green River Fisheries Supervisor said in a post on the WGFD website.
Keeping a dog leashed or in a hut can also keep them safe, Keith said, but watch out for curious dogs around baited lures and hooks and tails wagging too close to a heater.
Dogs can also help prevent the spread of invasive plant species this fall by owners remembering to wipe their pet’s paws. WGFD said two aggressive grasses were verified in northeast Wyoming in the past few years and hunters and recreationists can help by cleaning up and notifying land managers about new areas of infestation.
“By cleaning clothes, footwear, trucks, recreational vehicles and dog paws and fur of mud and plant material every time they come in from the field, hunters can help ensure we limit the spread of these invasive plants from one favorite hunting location to another,” a WGFD press release said.
The plant species to look out for are ventenata and medusahead, which can reduce native forage in an invaded area by 50 to 70%. Livestock and wildlife don’t like these invasive grasses either, due to a high silica content, the press release said.
Some dog owners like to keep things simple, letting their pups roam free and unhindered. But along with responsible pet ownership, simple things like clean paws, boots and a bright orange vest could help keep dogs safe and healthy during fall and winter seasons.
By Allayana Darrow
The Sheridan Press