Autumn is a wonderful time for outdoor adventures with median temperatures the perfect amount of sun exposure. While there is no need to worry about hot pavement and gravel or freezing temperature, there are some things that you should keep in mind if you plan on taking your pup for an afternoon or a few days in the great outdoors.
- Know the trail – Before you head out to the state or national park of your choice do a little research especially if you plan on being out on the trail for more than a day. You should be able to find out whether or not dogs are welcome, any water points if applicable, park hours, and possibly even a map of the trail.
- Pack up – In addition to water and snacks for yourself, you’ll want to be sure that you pack some for your furry friend! You should also be sure to take a leash and collar for your dog. Be aware of and adhere to any leash laws. Remember that your dog probably won’t be the only one out on the trail.
- Know your pup – Not every dog dreams of trekking up a mountain. Keep your dog’s fitness level in mind; there are many leisurely trails that take little effort and time to complete if your dog isn’t used to extended periods of physical activity. Another thing to keep in mind are limitations of your breed; some breeds, especially those that are brachycephalic, have a more difficult time breathing than others so you will need to pay closer attention to them during your walk. Ensure that your dog knows and responds to commands, especially if you plan on letting your dog off leash. This is not just for your dog’s safety, but for the safety of everyone on the trail.
- Getting home – Don’t forget to check your dog for ticks when you get home. If you’ve been trekking on overgrown paths you may find a tick or two on your dog even with the best flea and tick medication.
You’re informed and ready to roll out with your road dog, but where should you go? All of these trails are picturesque and dog-friendly.
- Burke Lake Park – Fairfax, VA: This park is better suited for a leisurely walk and activities than an upward mountain trek. Dogs are welcome, but be sure to keep them on leash.
- Bull Run-Occoquan Trail – Centreville, VA: This trail is follows the bend of the Occoquan River and is suitable for hikers of differing skill level. You can stay on the main trail or visit the branching trails.
- Virginia Arboretum – Harrisonburg, VA: If you’re up for a little learning with your hike visit the Virginia Arboretum. More walk and less hike, this trail offers the best foliage that Virginia has to offer in one place.
Mild temperatures are ideal for long hikes and Virginia foliage has long been the backdrop for paintings and long, lazy drives. There is no one better to enjoy this sweater weather with than your four-legged best friend.