Now that Spring is here, I am eager to spend more time outside with my dog. I plan to take her on long walks, hikes, to dog parks, dog-friendly cafes and to play fetch in our backyard. What can I do to keep her safe outdoors?

I recommend learning policies and laws before venturing on an outdoor excursion … practice K9 training with an emphasis on loose-leash walking and “coming when called”. On hikes, use a harness or collar that won’t slip off, like a Martingale collar and 6-foot leash (required by law in most cities and states). While passing other dogs, try to hug the side of the trail that allows the humans to pass while keeping dogs on the opposite side — safely apart.

If legally permitted and when confident my (microchipped) dog “comes” when called, I let them off leash on a hiking trail but never out of site. When a fellow dog walker approaches, I call my dog and hook the leash until the path is clear.

Play at a park burns energy but not all dogs actually like dog parks – watch for fear and avoidance behaviors like hiding behind their human, tail tucked or ears back. Playtime with a neutral-tailed, loose body doggie is great, but domi- nant humping, face biting, or if one dog is IN distress means it’s time for you to step in. Dog parks put your pooch at greater risk of intestinal parasites, coughs, flu, sore muscles, and even fights — if you spot a dog with a high, erect tail, hard stare, bullying other dogs or being ignored by their human, it’s time to leave.

Canine Cafe Manners: Teach a down/stay, provide physical or mental stim- ulation and a potty break prior to taking your pup to an outdoor café. Never tie your dog to the table or chairs; instead, place the end of the leash around your wrist. Check for toxic crumbs and ask your dog to down/stay when the server comes to your table. Bring a mat for your dog to lay on and have fresh water available.

Carry a walking stick and beware of mountain lions, bears waking from a winter slumber, birds of prey or coyotes roaming. Fill a backpack with doggie booties, life vest, sunglasses, sunscreen, water container to avoid overheating, treat pouch, favorite toy, poop bags and canine first aid kit.

Remember to enjoy the outdoors and take time to smell the flowers!

Spring’s in the air, your dog is aware.
Flowers in bloom, birds singing tunes.
Kids flying kites, skateboards and bikes.
Long days before dark.
Walks, hikes … dog parks.
Canine spring safety tips I shall bark!