Four-leg adventures in Canada

Dogs in the mountains

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Cooper and Kristina in Canada
Instagram: Kristina.Kotlebova

WHO IS COOPER AND KRISTINA

I was born in Slovakia and grew up surrounded by mountains. From an early age I climbed rocks and ran along the mountain peaks. The dog was not used to being a pet in our family, more like a guard dog. So we had one German Shepard after another. The first trick I taught our dog,  when I was a child, was to jump the gate in front of the house so he could escape to freedom ( haha ).
I’ve been actively working with dogs for many years, mostly in Canada, and they’re a daily part of me. I teach them how to socialize, be independent, gain confidence, how to play in a group, obey on walks in the mountains and, above all, how to properly stimulate their brain, and their senses.

I have my own four-leg friend called Cooper (Beagle+ Labrador cross+ Jack Russel) who follows my feet everywhere I move ( literally). Since my biggest hobby is to run to the mountains and discover hidden places and magnificent views, my dog is coming with me. Maybe it’s unconventional behavior for a Slovak, but to know that someone is able to take a hike with me, and not need to talk about rainbows and unicorns all the time, is amazing.
As soon as Cooper sees me packing my running backpack, filling the Camelback, he starts sniffing my running clothes and enthusiastically running around the room like wild a child. In the past, he had trouble being in the car while driving from point A to point B, but since the car means a long day hiking, he jumps into the seat and eagerly waits for the engine to start. So the adventure can begin!!

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HIKING IN CANADA

Canada is well-known for its nature, mountains, glacial lakes, famous climbers and opportunities for alpine hiking. Everywhere you look, there are hikers and sports enthusiasts. Going to the mountains with a dog is a very common activity here, but only outside the National Parks and some Provincial parks do not allow dogs.
Canada takes good care of their nature.  All camp sites require you to clean after you and your dog. Therefore, it is no surprise that you have to pay for camping in the mountains and book a place in advance. You have a designated area for camping, in specified locations, and it is forbidden to have  the tent outside of the camping zone. How do they find out? Well, do you remember from the cartoon Yogi  Bear those Rangers with ridiculous hats on their head? Those are exactly who are watching over  the mountains and give fines if you break the rules, and not just in national parks.

DO NOT FEED BEARS

Since we are only human and Canada knows the most about the stupidity of hikers, they came up with a very good idea to help wild animals living near the busy camping sites and hiking places. They invented a suspension system on which you attach a bag of food and then pull it high, so that no animal can reach it. Maybe that won’t stop you from a bear visit in the middle of the night, but at least he’ll leave peacefully and not eat you along with your food.
Other camping sites also have large, heavy, metal boxes that you close after you store food there. What about garbage? Well, pack it with you on your way home 😉

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OUTSIDE OF NATIONAL PARKS

I’ve been running in the mountains in Canada for years. Most of the time I try to climb to the top of the mountain and then descend on the same day, as I prefer to run. I only got my dog two years ago and since then being home for dinner is more natural to me, so we both (Me and Cooper) have enough rest before we go out for the next hike.
Since a dog can’t enter a national park in Canada, I’m looking for places where we can both go without a huge fine for being in a forbidden zone. Thank Goodness, Canada doesn’t need to call every beautiful mountain peak a part of National Park, so there are  hundreds of options for me and Cooper to go. Whether it’s raining, snowing or it’s a wonderful hot day, being up,  high above the clouds, is our lifestyle.

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SAFETY FIRST

Going to the mountains is quite risky in itself and one has to have experience and stamina. Thorough preparation and packing of the backpack in this case also applies to your dog. You’re definitely not going with an obese dog who’s been walking in the garden for years, on Mount Everest – if it’s accessable for dogs ;)). Make sure your dog enjoys hiking and that you’re ready to carry him back down. So for those they have large, heavy dogs, think twice and in advance. Be sure to start with small hikes closer to the house and see if the dog is enjoying it and when is a point of fatigue. If I cross the boundaries of my dog, all I have to do is throw him on my back, and run down with the extra 15 kilos which I take as good training

 

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BEHAVIOUR ON THE TRAIL

Just like a person has to behave appropriately in certain situations during alpine adventures, the same applies to the dog. Forests are full of  wildlife, those they run away if the dog starts chasing it. But those can be provoked too! My dog used to chase squirrels until one, a cheeky one, bit him.
Always keep a reasonable ratio of dog-man ( ideally 1: 1 ) and always give right of way to other hikers on the trail. Politely go to the side of the trail and let others pass first. Your dog should wait calmly and well mannered.
Make sure your dog:
1) Comes right away when called and does not hesitate!
2) Can stay on the leash if necessary
3) Is not a threat to other hikers and dogs (use muzzle if not sure)
4) He doesn’t bark all the way and can stay calm in the mountains

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WHAT TO PACK extra IF I GO WITH MY DOG

-First aid ! Small, hiking packages are available everywhere. And make sure there are  tweezers!
-A backpack, for yourself and your dog. Let him carry his own stuff. As an extra bonus, the backpack can protect your dog or warm him up in case of an emergency.
-Water, food and energy bars.
-According to the weather, a cooling vest ( my dog needs it because of black hair and fast overheating) or vice versa, an extra sweater or waterproof jacket ( does it look stupid? Try to go on a hike for 6 hours, snow everywhere, heavy rain, poor visibility and your dog can barely move because he is shaking from the cold..
-Additional things like: folding compact bowl for food or water, bell, muzzle, spare leash, whistle, light attached to your dog
– Bear spray is a must!

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Hiking equipment – Cooper
Waterproof jacket:
1)Hurtta (https://www.hurtta.com/global_en/)
2)Ruffwear (https://ruffwear.com/)
Locally made leash  (https://pilotpetgear.com/)
Locally made harness (https://wedgedogcollection.com/)
Backpack  (https://www.wolfrepublic.com/)
Treats to keep my Beast running:
1) Wow treats (https://www.wowtreatsandmore.ca/)
2) Sit Stay Love Raw (https://sitstayloveraw.com/)
Folding compact bowl (https://ruffwear.com/)

Kristina
Jacket (https://www.macpac.co.nz/)
Running shoes ( https://www.topoathletic.com/)
Backpack (https://www.camelbak.com/#)
Running watch ( http://www.suunto.com)

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