Cheat Grass & All its Evil

Weeds are plants that people find undesirable in a particular location. Cheatgrass is a weed I find undesirable in any location! It’s invasive, grows like bamboo, spreads fires, and can injure you and your pets!

Cheatgrass Seeds

Cheatgrass was brought to North America by European settlers. It’s now found in almost every state, covering about 70 million acres of land, but is most prevalent in the Great Basin areas like Oregon. And although it hasn’t gone away over the last two unseasonably warm years, it normally grows at the beginning of spring and dies away in the winter.

Cheatgrass takes resources away from native plants, aids in the rapid spread of fires, and reeks havoc on wildlife. Why should you care about any of this? Because Cheatgrass can get into your pets systems and literally rip them apart from the inside out! It grows among regular grass, and can easily be ingested by your pup or cat. The seeds are small and lightweight, so if an animal rubs against them ever so slightly, it could send seeds into their eyes, ears, and respiratory systems. Seeds scattered on the ground can get trapped in paw pads and work their way between toes. If left unnoticed, these seeds will twist, spin, and wiggle their way further into an animal, resulting in open sores, infections, organ damage, and even death.

What can you do to avoid this? Keep your yard free of Cheat to limit exposure. Keep your pup on leash when in areas with high levels of Cheatgrass. Keep cats indoors if you live in a neighborhood with a lot of Cheat. Perfect recall and the “leave it” cue to keep them from munching on this horrible weed. Keep coats short, and keep fur between toes even shorter. Check your pet over after every outing, and then recheck them again several hours later. Having another set of eyes is always helpful.

Cheatgrass

I recommend checking over every inch of your pet, especially if they have long, thick, or curly coats. Doodles are the ultimate prey to Cheat. Get a good Furminator that works well in your pets coat, and then check their ears, eyes, nose, mouth (including back of throat), under the collar/harness, between toes, within the paw pad, and near genitals. Keeping coats short will help keep the Cheat off, and wearing boots and goggles will help keep the eyes and feet clean. If you see any Cheatgrass on your pet that you cannot remove, call your vet immediately. I know a lot of people reading this will be like, “A seed?! Yea right, big deal!” But after spending at least $800 on an emergency Cheatgrass removal you will definitely be singing a different tune.

Cheatgrass loves hot, dry environments, so going into the shady, wet woods is always a less risky option when it comes to Cheat. Keep an eye out for Cheatgrass and call your pup away from it before they get in too deep, and keep them on leash in areas where it’s unavoidable. Become familiar with this evil weed, and take note when you find areas without it.

Hot Weather is Here!

It’s suddenly so hot out! Phew! So here are some tips on how to stay safe & cool…

Safety

  • Always have fresh water with you to offer your pup. A to-go bottle and a collapsible water bowl are always a good idea, or you could get a bottle with a bowl attached– super posh!
  • Check the surfaces you are walking on. Put the back of your hand to the ground and leave it there for five seconds. Grass is the coolest surface, and shade is always welcome!
  • Watch your pup for overheating or signs of labored breathing. Offer them shade and cool water. Be aware of the signs of heatstroke.
  • Never leave your pup in the car on hot days. Shade with the windows down is nice for a few minutes, but even that can get over 100 on a hot day. I love this video Grounds & Hounds did on how miserable & dangerous being in a hot car is!
PetPlan Insurance car temperature chart

Water Fun

Link enjoying a Chuck-it Bumper
  • Swimming is obviously a fun water activity, but not every pup enjoys the water. Using toys in the shallows will get them comfortable around water and getting their paw pads into cool water will help them cool down. Kiddie pools are great for those that don’t want to swim!
  • Sprinklers and misters are fun ways to cool down if your dog is willing. A mister is a little easier to get acquainted with, sprinklers might take some positive reinforcement and some water play on your part!
  • Toys that you can fill and freeze are refreshing for hot days, and having some on hand will save you when it’s too hot to go outside for enrichment!

Stay Cool Inside & Out

  • Have your pup wear a wet bandana, shirt, or cooling vest to keep them cool on walks. Shirts and vest also help those who get sunburned!
  • Get a cooling mat they can lay on. It might take some conditioning to get your pup used to laying on the mat, but once they do it’ll keep them cool!
  • Keep up on grooming and be sure to brush out those hot undercoats. Remember, not every dog’s coat is meant to be shaved, so consult a professional if you want to take off some of that fluff. Weekly brushings are usually enough to keep the extra weight off!
  • Have fun mixing up some frozen treats for your pup! You blend up any of their favorite fruits, veggies, or proteins and pour into an ice cube tray to make some pupsicles!
Link on his cooling mat

Wildlife Education: Larger Mammals

Spring is around the corner, which means life is going to start blooming! Insects will begin stirring, rabbits will multiply, deer will migrate, and everyone is going to be rising from their dwellings to enjoy all the sunshine has to offer! Stay alert and make sure not to miss any of the emerging beauty or dangers. Here are some larger animals that tend to wander in the spring months.

Coyotes- Coyotes are common to see nearly everywhere in Central Oregon. They are around the size of a medium-sized dog and are often gray or brown in color. They do not seek confrontation and will normally run away when they see you, but if they have a litter nearby they will stand their ground. If you see one and it doesn’t automatically run from you, make a lot of noise to scare them off and get the attention of your pup, put your pup on leash and walk the opposite direction. They normally travel in packs, so if you enter their territory and they confront you, it’s safest to just leave.

AP Stock Photo of a Coyote

Wolves- Wolves are larger than coyotes, and usually larger than the largest dogs. Wolves are seen throughout Oregon but it is uncommon to run into them on the trail. If you see a wolf on the trail it is safe to assume it will attack you so make yourself big and back away slowly. Do not run, and do not make any sudden movements. Hopefully you notice them from a distance and can get your dog back to you and back to safety.

Stock Photo of a Grey Wolf

Cougars- Cougars are one of the largest cats in the western Hemisphere. They are a reddish-brown color and have powerful teeth and jaws. They have been spotted all over Central Oregon and have been known to attack humans and pets. Cougars usually roam in search of food, and unfortunately your dog is a perfect meal. If you see one on the trail, put yourself between your dog and the cougar, make yourself big, wave your arms, keep eye contact, and back away slowly while speaking in a firm tone.

Stock Photo of a Cougar

Deer- There are several species of deer in Oregon, the Mule Deer and Black-Tailed Deer are the most common. Deer will do their best to stay as far away from you and your pup as possible, but we do sometimes sneak up on them, and they will defend themselves if threatened. Dogs have been known to chase deer, and the deers respond by kicking with their rear hooves or rearing up and boxing, using their front legs to keep danger away. Male deer will also use their antlers as defense. Deer are more than capable of skinning a dog, breaking their bones, and sometimes killing them. If you see deer, make a lot of noise to warn them that you are near and to get your pup’s attention on you. Leash them up until the and move away from the deer. Their scent will linger so don’t unleash your dog too soon.

Stock Photo of Mule Deer

Elk- Elk are found throughout Oregon. They are larger than deer, less common to run into, and more dangerous. They have large, powerful bodies and males have long, pointed antlers. They will defend themselves if they feel threatened. If you see one, calmly collect your dog and walk in the other direction.

Stock Photo of an Elk

Moose- Moose are even more rare to run into in Oregon. They are huge, around 6” tall and can weigh up to 1500 lbs. Their antlers are used as threat displays, but can kill a human or pup. Again, if you see one, calmly collect your dog and walk in the other direction.

Stock Photo of a Moose

We share the trails with a lot of other living creatures, so be cautious and courteous. Make sure your pup is fluent in the important cues such as recall, and leave it. It’s important that your pup know to remain close to you and focused on you in dangerous situations. If they haven’t learned these cues, or haven’t built a reliable recall, keep them on leash when you’re out on the trail. A 20ft lead will ensure they are able to sniff and explore, and it will keep them close when things get too wild.

The Dog Talker

Strangers often ask if I’m a dog walker and I usually just say yes to be polite and move on, but I feel that I am not just a walker but perhaps more of a talker, a dog communicator, because that’s what I do all day, communicate with dogs. Adventure Pup never just walks dogs.

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Every Adventure Outing is different and tailored specifically to the Pack. Every Hike we focus on things that will benefit the Pack as a whole, as well as the individual Pup. Every Walk we take is a learning opportunity, a chance for a Pup to grow mentally and emotionally. Every Dog Park Visit is a lesson, never just a game of chuck-it.

Each Outing we work on etiquette & basic manners, play brain games, and dabble in energy work, all while having the time of our lives!

Manners on the Trail, Sidewalk, and in the Park are very important. Adventure Pups practice sit, stay, and recall in order to respond appropriately to a variety of situations. Throughout our hike we practice random recall and “touch” (dogs recall all the way and press their adorable noses into my hand). We always practice stepping off trail whenever we encounter someone to prepare the Pack for any future situations such as horseback riders. We go far enough away where we can still see the passerby, but not close enough to distract the Pack’s focus on me. Treats are used, of course, but I have found just kneeling down and praising & petting the dogs works just as well 🙂 If I have someone that is easily tempted I will put them on leash, just in case. This constant practice gets the Pack prepared for when real danger approaches; deer, snakes, coyotes, or shifty humans.

Brain Games are not only fun, but they help dogs work out their brains. Hide and seek is my favorite game to play. Sometimes if someone lags behind to investigate a smell, the rest of the Pack and I will hide behind trees or bushes and watch them sniff us out. It’s my favorite thing to see the seeker’s face when they find us! Just always make sure you can see your dog when you try this so you don’t end up searching for them instead. We also do a little bit of nosework, hiding treats, tennis balls, or sticks for dogs to sniff out. For this activity the Pack sits & stays while I hide the object, then I release them to sniff it out!

Energy Work is usually done in a low-key, calm environment, but sometimes we take it to the trail. Most of the energy work we do on Hikes centers around bonding, but we will also do some exercises to help improve circulation & movement, build confidence, and calm overly excited or anxious Pups. We use a combination of t-Touch, Reiki, leash guidance, and simple body language. Using these techniques has resulted in the Pack being more attuned with what I am doing and where I am. When I stop, the Pack stops. When I walk off trail, the Pack follows, without a single spoken word. The Pack stays within 20 feet of me, and if they go further I stop, and they return. This of course doesn’t work 100% of the time, but the more we practice the more positively the Pack responds.

We practice similar exercises on Neighborhood Walks & Dog Park Outings. Every Outing is an opportunity to learn & grow, no matter how much time we have together.

The Retractable Leash

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Last week I was sitting at my favorite food truck pod with my sweet Pup Link. People came and went with their dogs, sometimes coming over to say hello to my Pup. Each dog calmly came over to get and give a brief sniff and then they trotted away with their human. After about five dogs stopping to say hello, in walks a beefy pitbull. He was large and had a big smile on his face, scanning the area for dogs. He saw Link and immediately began walking toward us. Behind him was a small woman, gripping his retractable leash with both hands and being dragged across the gravel as if she was wearing roller skates. She grasped the handle of the leash and held her thumb tight against the leash lock, her other hand was wrapped up in the thin cord, turning white from the lack of blood flowing to it. She kept shouting, “Stop! Heel! Stop!” but the dog continued to drag her toward me. I stood up and asked, “Does he want to say hi?” The woman’s face filled with relief and she allowed her hands a break and let her dog have some extra leash to say hello. The dog calmed and they began to walk away, but then another dog popped into view and the woman was being dragged off again, this time she dropped the large plastic handle and it hit the ground, shattering into pieces and retracting itself all the way back to the dog, who began fleeing in terror into the parking lot, the broken plastic handle clattering behind him.

This is honestly not the first time I have seen this happen. Retractable leashes were  invented in order to provide control over the dog while allowing it more room to roam, but instead they tend to provide little control and absolutely no guidance. Your dog is able to walk about 20ft ahead of you, sniffing and eating whatever they find, wrapping around trees or poles, and hopping into the street in front of an oncoming bicyclist if they so desire. The inventor of the retractable leash has said, “It is usually desirable that the dog should have a certain freedom in running about, but it is difficult to prevent the animal from running on the wrong side of lamp posts or pedestrians, thus causing much annoyance to the owner, who is constantly required to adjust the length of the leash in her hand, and frequently the leash is dropped and the dog permitted to run away. The objects of the present invention are to obviate and overcome all these difficulties and annoyances due to the usual form of leash, and prevent the leash from becoming tangled as the dog runs about.” This directly translates to: “I hate dealing with my dog and just want to zone out while I walk him.” Her description is odd, considering the retractable leash allows more room to run about and go on the wrong side of posts and people, and you are CONSTANTLY adjusting the length of the leash. It is also very easy to drop, and even easier to break! 

The truth is, people only use these leashes because it is comfortable for them to hold. If you remove the large plastic handle you would be left with a thin cord that would slice into your hands, similar to walking a dog on a fishing line, and nobody wants that.

I always recommend a 6ft nylon leash. You can shorten it as much as you’d like, and no dog needs to be more than 6ft from you while on a leashed walk. You can drop it without the fear of it breaking or retracting after your dog. You can adjust your grip and hold the leash in a variety of ways depending on how you and your dog walk together. And the best part is, you are in control. Even if your dog is a puller, a flat leash provides the most control and support. I prefer the simple slip lead that tightens when the dog pulls, which usually prevents the dog from doing so. But every dog is an individual and needs what’s best for them AND you. Try out a few options to see what’s best for both of you, but leave that retractable leash on the shelf!

 

*When researching retractable leashes I discovered that there are A LOT of injuries to both humans and animals when using one of these leashes. I know when the handle is dropped it could retract and injure the dog, but I had no idea how many issues this leash actually had with injuries. They’re even illegal in some areas because of the amount of injuries! Here is a link to the Animal Hospital of North Asheville, if you’d like to read about the potential injuries causes by retractable leashes. Whatever you do, don’t Google Image search it!

I borrowed the image fromDogTime.com, which also has an informative article about retractable leashes 🙂

What You Talkin’ Bout Human?

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When you bring home your first Pup you do whatever you can to set him up for success: spoil him with toys & treats, get him the best dog food on the market, and help him learn basic commands so you can show him off to the world! The toys, treats, and food you pick are all very important to your Pup’s health and well being, and we all know training is essential! The words you use to train your Pup are very important, regardless of your training techniques. Dogs love consistency and ease, so it is important to be on a routine and to be direct with your pooch. It’s a neat party trick to train your dog commands in German when it’s not your native tongue, but what happens when you leave your Pup with a babysitter and they have no clue how to sprechen sie Deutsch? It’s nice to have a dog to chat with while you’re out on a trail, but once you start gabbin’ your Pup starts to tune you out, then when you need him to pay attention he’s already started ignoring you. The easiest way to train your Pup is to find a balance between the words you would normally say and words that are universal in the dog training world. Below are some examples of verbal cues Adventure Pups use in the day to day.

  • “Here”- come here
  • “Sit”- sit
  • “Stay”- stay
  • “Free” or “Ok”- to release from a sit or stay
  • “Down”- lay down
  • “Off”- don’t jump up
  • “Leave it”- walk away from what you’re doing
  • “No bite”- do not bite
  • “Gentle”- play more gently
  • “Easy”- play more gently
  • “Hey”- heel
  • “Yes” or “Good”- to mark desired behavior
  • “Ah Ah”- do not do that
  • “Load up”- get into the car
  • We try to save the word “No” for extreme circumstances when other verbal cues don’t work, such as preventing a fight, eating something they really shouldn’t, or approaching something dangerous.

We’re pretty straight forward in our verbal cues, but we have made some adjustments in order to better fit with our natural vernacular. I have personally never used the word “heel” in my natural speech. What are some of the verbal cues you share with your Pup?

Buckle Up!

As a child of the 80’s, strapping your Pup into a car with a seatbelt was never something I considered… until I got a precious Pup of my own. If you know anything about me it’s that I love my dog more than anything. I try to keep him safe wherever he goes, including in the car. During one of Link’s first car rides, I noticed how he would walk across the back seat, from window to window. It drove me nuts! I just wanted him to grasp the seriousness of being in a car, and how dangerous backseat surfing can be! But alas, he is a dog and doesn’t understand this concept. So I decided to help him by getting him properly set up for car rides!

Note- some dogs may not be able to be restrained in a car for a variety of reasons, just do your best and drive safe 🙂

  • Seatbelt– There are a few variations of seatbelts. Some have a loop where the seatbelt goes through and then clicks in, like it would for a human. Some have a buckle that clicks directly into the seatbelt of your car. And some are simple tethers that can clip into a harness much like a leash, and then attach to the seatbelt or can be attached to a removable headrest. Make sure you have a durable, padded, fitted,  comfortable harness. You want something that would supply even support in the event of a crash. I got a brand new Kurgo harness and seat belt from the Humane Society Thrift for $5. The harness has a chest plate to distribute weight evenly, and he can comfortably wear it outside of the car as well. Personally I don’t like the direct to belt buckle style restraint and I prefer to attach his tether to the headrest. It’s just less likely he will tangle himself if the tether is above his back rather than by his legs.
  • Hammock– Car hammocks are a great way to keep your dog from flying into the front seat in the event of a crash. It cradles them, much like a normal outdoor hammock does to a human. The combination of the seatbelt and hammock keep your dog in one place throughout your drive. Hammocks are also great in the event your dog gets car sick… trust me.
  • Crate– This is the best way to keep your Pup safe in the car. Crates should be kept in the trunk area when available (not in a closed trunk of a sedan! but in a trunk of a hatchback or suv!) Crates should be strapped down securely to prevent them from moving around too much, and in the event of an accident the car will be secure and not tumbling around the car with your dog tumbling around inside. Impact Dog Crates make awesome crates for your car and truck beds! If you drive a hatchback and have a Malamute, a crate might not work for you.
  • No Dogs in Laps– It is so dangerous! Hawaii is the only state that has outlawed this activity, but most states (including Oregon) have laws against distracted driving, which includes your dog riding on your lap. Also, if you’re in an accident, your dog will be smashed between your body and the steering wheel or airbag! Eeek!
  • No Dogs in Front Seats– Much like sitting on your lap, your dog could be smashed by the airbag when sitting shotgun. If you don’t have an airbag, your dog could then be slammed into the dash, or even worse, thrown through the window. If they must sit shotgun, make sure they are securely and properly restrained. 
  • Loose in the Bed of a Truck– Please, please, please restrain your dog when letting them ride in the back of your truck! You don’t even have to get in an accident for your dog to be hurt. If someone cuts you off and you slam on the brakes, what do you think will happen to your dog? If you hit a pothole (all of Oregon is a pothole) your dog could slam into the truck or fall out the back. Crates are the best, and in my opinion the only way to transport a dog in the bed of a truck. But in all honesty I’d rather have you let your German Shepherd ride on your lap than in the back of your truck.
  • Head out the Window– Warning, this is a rule I can’t follow. Sticking your head out the window isn’t very safe. Rocks and debris hit your windshield all the time, imagine if something hit you in the face going 60mph. It would have the same effect if it hit your dog in the face. They could get cut and scraped, or worse they could get an eye injury. I can’t follow this rule because I know how fun it is to stick your head out the window! To me it’s the same risk as riding a rollercoaster, and I can’t deprive my dog of that fun, but I do roll windows up when we drive faster than 40mph, or when we’re off-roading.
  • No Unattended Dog– I talk about this so often. Don’t leave your Pup in the car. Hot and cold weather drastically effects the temperatures inside a car. All the windows down could result in your dog leaping out a window to chase a squirrel. Just try your best not to do it, and if you must leave your dog in the car, please be safe about it!

 

I am going to share a story that happened to me recently just to give you an idea of how important car safety is for your dog. Don’t worry, it’s not one of the many horror stories I have from working in vet clinics. No one was hurt during this very lucky event.

Last week Link and I took a road trip to Southern Oregon. We drove 3.5 hours south and  all around Southern Oregon without any incidents. We drove the almost 3.5 hours home before exiting the highway at Knott Road. We were driving along Knott, which is single lane both ways, with a double yellow in the middle and a bike lane in both directions. The road curves, but isn’t necessarily windy. There’s high desert landscape on either side. It’s peaceful, and much more enjoyable than the busy main road through town. I was  listening to a crime podcast and Link was snoring in the backseat. I drive a 4Runner, and he usually rides in the very back, but I wanted him closer to me, so I could talk to him as I drove. We were going the speed limit, and I was looking ahead of me as we approached a curve in the road. Traffic was coming in the opposite direction, and cars were driving in front and behind me. Suddenly I see a small Honda Civic coming into my lane from the other direction. I assume he’s just an impatient driver trying to zoom around the person in front of him, but then I noticed he wasn’t trying to swerve out of my way. He was coming directly at me, aiming for a head on collision. I slammed on my brakes, saw he wasn’t swerving, and then I swerved at the very last moment. I braced myself for a collision, but it never came. He narrowly missed us. I swerved right off the road, into the bike lane, and down an embankment, praying to Dog the 4Runner didn’t flip (as 4Runners are specifically designed to flip). All I could think about was my dog, my best friend, and how I needed to get the car to safety. Somehow luck was on our side. We didn’t flip. Instead we sank into the soft dirt of the embankment and stopped. I turned and checked Link over. He was shaken up, but his seatbelt and harness kept him safe and in one spot. He didn’t slide across the seat and hit the door. He didn’t slam into the back of my seat. He was locked in. I can’t explain how relieved I was. I didn’t care about anything else. I didn’t care about the car being stuck, or how my hands wouldn’t stop shaking, or how incredibly hot and thirsty I had suddenly become. All I cared about was that Link was ok. It turns out the Honda Civic belonged to a young man that had worked very long hours that day and he had fallen asleep at the wheel. He drifted into my lane, passing the woman in front of him and smashing off both her and his own side mirrors. I’m assuming that’s what woke him up in time to swerve out of the way of hitting the driver’s side of my car. I am fairly certain to this day he has no idea how close he was to losing his life. I think the only words I said to him were “Are you ok? You ran us off the road, that’s my car with my dog inside. Don’t worry he’s ok.” I am not by any means a great driver. I try to do my best, but I’m not rally racer. I truly believe if I didn’t have Link in my car my reactions wouldn’t have been that fast. I also believe if he didn’t have his seatbelt on, my life would be very different right now. We were very lucky that day. Always buckle up, no matter what kind of mammal, fish, or bird you are. (THANK YOU SO MUCH TO THOSE 3 PEOPLE WHO STAYED WITH ME UNTIL I GOT MY CAR OUT!)

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The Adventure Pup Experience

Lately people have been asking me what I do for work, and when I say “I run a hiking service for dogs” I get the same reaction, “Oh fun! What a great thing!” And yes, they’re correct to say that, it is amazing and I love doing it, but after some more conversation I come to realize a lot of people see me as either a boarding facility, jam packed with dogs (they’re only half listening to what I’m saying), or that 9 year old neighbor you have that always wants to be around your dog and will always jump at the opportunity to watch them when you leave town (yes I was that 9 year old some time ago), but my job is so much more than that, so I thought I would explain what makes Adventure Pup a different experience.

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  • I truly love your dog (or cat, or iguana, or fish, or rat) as much as I did when I was a kid hopping your fence to lay in your yard with them. I know your pup’s hobbies and pet peeves, I can pick them out of a line-up of dogs that other people would assume are clones, and I will remember them until I am old and senile. They will get excited when they run into me in public, and you might not even recognize me. I will have photos of them forever on my computer, and sometimes (currently) pinned to my wall above my desk, to brighten my day when I need it. I will constantly talk about them to my human friends.
  • On that note, I have more dog friends than human friends. I just prefer the company of non-human animals. It makes me a little awkward to talk to, but also great with your pups.
  • I see dogs as individuals. I don’t do the same activity for every dog. I know who likes doing what and I know what activities to avoid with certain dogs. Everyone is different and unique, and I set up my day to day with that in mind.
  • Packs are kept small and intimate, not only so I am able to physically control everyone on leash at once, but also so that all dogs enjoy the outing. Small packs help keep the excitement level down, which results in less anxiety and a more connected pack. Pups are also matched based on energy level and individual personalities so every member of the pack enjoys their Adventure.
  • Every outing involves both physical and mental stimulation. Pups are given gentle guidance and work on basic commands while out on Adventures, nose work is done with dogs that do better with a job, and tTouch is done with all Adventure Pups to help create a stronger bond, alleviate stiff joints, or release some anxious energy. After a dog has been with me for a length of time I have to use very little voice control and most pups will follow my energy. May sound a bit flower-power to some, but it works for me.
  • Different techniques are used for different dogs to help them grow and learn at their own pace. I use a variety of training techniques and exercises (basically anything except old school/negative reinforcement training) and I am always continuing my education by attending different animal classes and holding side jobs in various animal industries (retail, nutrition, medical, daycare, training, shelters, etc.)
  • I follow dog rules: off-leash in certain areas and not in others, picking up poop and taking them with me, only allowing dog/people friendly dogs off leash, bringing no more than 3 dogs to a dog park. I’m a pretty big square and love a good set of rules.
  • I am prepared for each outing with a car stocked with dog necessities & emergency kits and also carry a pouch with me on every hike carrying smaller versions of necessities & emergency kits (I made a post about that a little while back if you’re curious). I also prepare myself by knowing where I am going ahead of time and familiarizing myself with the trail before bringing Adventure Pups along (my dog Link is a huge help in these tests).

If you have a dog walker or pet sitter they should posses these qualities. I form very deep bonds with animals, even if I know them briefly, but I have worked with some people who do not actually care for the animal they’re watching & out of all the “animal people” I know there are only a select few I would trust with my own dog.

Bend Dog Parks

Bend Oregon definitely prides itself as a dog town. Most breweries and eateries offer outdoor seating where you can sit with your dog. There are some great locally owned pet shops that carry quality merchandise for your furry best friend. And out of the 81 human parks, there are 8 off-leash dog areas. In all honesty, eight off leash dog parks is not a lot. Most other towns I have lived in or visited have well over ten parks where your pup can run wild and free. However, the quality of these 8 dog parks greatly surpasses those I have been to elsewhere. Wide-open spaces, usually fenced-in, in safe neighborhoods, and maintained by the wonderful people at PAC and Bend Parks n Rec. Below you will see a list (in no particular order) of the off-leash areas in Bend, with some notes as to what to expect when visiting them.

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  • Big Sky– 5 acres, both fenced and unfenced, broken up into several sections. When you first enter the off-leash area from the main gate, you will be in a High Desert trail environment. Walking through the second gate will bring you into some more desert trails, and a nice big grassy field with some picnic tables, a water spigot, and plenty of room for some Chuck-It. Through yet another gate you will find the unfenced area where you can walk the trails and reach the pond and canal. This area requires a leash. Dogs are not allowed to swim in the pond or canals, though that does not stop many pups or their people from doing so. If you continue along the canal you’ll reach a large empty stretch of land, again on leash please. (UPDATE: this area after the pond is now private property, but all the “No Swimming” signs have been removed!) This park is not often very busy, but it is surrounded by a lot of human activities (soccer, lacrosse, biking). If you go during the hours of 8am & 10am you might run into a very large dog group, so if your dog is easily overwhelmed you might want to wait until the afternoon.
  • Bob Wenger at Pine Nursery– 18.8 fenced acres, including a small dog area (which I have never been in). This park is nice and spread out, allowing you to walk a variety of paths and giving your pup different sights and smells. Most of the park is High Desert walking trails, with benches along the way, one of which features an amazing view of the mountains to the West. The trails open up to a very large grassy field, with partially open fencing along the perimeter to help you keep an eye on your pup. There are some picnic tables and a couple water spigots throughout the park, as well as poop bag stations and trashcans. This park has several entries/exits which allow you to access the greater paved trail that goes around the entirety of Pine Nursery. Your dog must be on leash whenever outside of the off-leash dog area. The visitors of this park vary, including the regulars that attend almost religiously, and the tourists who just Googled “dog park” and voila! Most people in this park are great, but this is the park I have experienced the most issues at. Humans on cellphones not paying attention to their dogs, dog walkers dropping their pack off and letting them have free rein, and nonlocals who bring their not-so-friendly pooches along just to get some energy out.  I have also run into quite a few dog-free bicyclists in this park. *Note- the dog park shares a parking lot with the pickleball courts, which can get very busy*
  • Discovery– 1.6 acres fenced. I’m going to be blunt, I never come here. It was originally created by West Bend Property Company, and was recently taken over by Bend Parks n Rec. It’s Snoozeville to me and my pack. I would probably go more often if I had an elderly Havanese that enjoyed strolling at a snail’s pace. The human park is very nice and peaceful, but the dog park is lacking. The good news is, it is very rarely busy, and it’s a new park so there is a lot of opportunity for growth and improvements.
  • Ponderosa– 2.9 fenced acres with a separate small dog area. This is my most frequented park, mostly because it’s in my ‘hood. It’s a much smaller scale Pine Nursery, with desert-like walking trails that lead into a small opening where you can play ball. Rather than having a nice grassy clearing for ball play, the entire park is dirt, except for the small dog area. The small dog area is all grass, with some small trees and benches. It has a chain link fence separating it from the big dog area. A lot of the little dogs love to run up and down this fence line barking at humans and dogs on the other side, and a lot of the owners do not correct this behavior, so if you have a dog that loves fence fighting this may not be the park for you. Most of the park is shade, which is great on hot days, but makes things very chilly on cold days. There is a water spigot, and it is surrounded by a human park, complete with two skateparks, a soccer field, a playground, and some paved walking paths. This park is mostly used by those who live in the neighborhood, but you also see some out-of-towners. A lot of cellphone use at this park, and a lot of people sitting at benches while their dog is on the opposite side of the park. Also, for some reason, a lot of people bring human food to this park and eat it at the picnic table in the middle of the dog play area.
  • Riverbend– 1.1 acres fenced with small dog area and dog access to the river. Bleh. I apologize if it sounds like I’m talking smack, but if you live in Bend and have taken your dog to this park, you probably share my view. It’s an afterthought. It’s at the end of the lush, grassy Riverbend Park, tucked away at the other end of a rocky parking lot. The terrain is all tiny rocks, which makes poop scooping a game, cracking toenails and paw pads a cinch, and the rocks become scorching hot on sunny days and icy and treacherous in cold months. There are a couple benches, but absolutely no shade. And no drinkable water, unless you count the river, which isn’t technically drinkable. The small dog area is not worth the visit. The river access is reached by leaving the dog park and entering another gate across the path. Access is only granted to those that love launching into water from the rocks above. Imagine if you’re friends told you they were taking you swimming, and then you arrived only to realize you had to jump from a rock cliff into the water below. This is where all tourists bring their dogs. Close to Old Mill, hotels, and a very popular human park, it offers quite a bit of convenience to those who are visiting. I have come across more unattended dogs at this park than any other (unattended meaning they are left alone in the fenced park without their human) I do not know where the human goes, but my guess is for a nice relaxing float in the Deschutes. I realize I have nothing positive to say about this park except that it is connected to the River Trail, which is a fantastic LEASH walk.
  • Awbrey Reservoir– 5 acres, slightly fenced. Yes, slightly fenced. The park is surrounded by some wooden post fencing, but it is not closed in by any means. Please be aware that the parking lot is attached to a semi busy road, and the park runs along 12th, which people love driving super fast on. This park is connected to Hillside Park, and yes it is on a hillside. It is sprinkled with unpaved walking trails that allow you to wander the hill and lead you to a great view of town. There are a couple picnic benches, where I have actually seen families having sit down dinners. There is no water spigot in the park, but there is a drinking fountain in the parking lot equipped with a lower fountain for dogs (dog bowl is not included). This park is mostly inhabited by neighborhood locals, and most of the park’s visitors do weekly cleanups of poops and trash. It’s not really a place to play ball, but it is nice for a relaxing sunrise/sunset stroll.
  • Overturf– 4.6 fenced acres. This park is perched up above a children’s playground and surrounded by newer homes. It has a forest feel, with tall trees covering most of the sky, and dirt trails throughout. The hill gives dogs a good workout, and just outside the dog park you’ll find Skyliner Summit Loop, where you can enjoy a peaceful walk after your pup gets to play with some pals. The park is never crowded, and most guests are neighborhood locals. There is no water spigot or drinking fountain, and people have been kind enough to bring water jugs. If you remember, bring a gallon of H20 along on your next trip to Overturf.
  • Hollinshead– 3.7 acres unfenced. This park is good for more mellow dogs who like to lay in the grass, stroll and take in the sniffs, and possibly play some light ball. The area is surrounded by a much larger human park, and it’s difficult to tell where the off-leash area begins and ends (especially for dogs who can’t read) so you have to be aware of the off-leash posts and make sure your dog stays where he is supposed to so you don’t get accosted by the nondog people. Right next to the dog park is a barn, where a lot of Bendites get married, so please make sure your pup isn’t off eating wedding cake or running away with a bride. This park also has some great LEASH walking trails around it.

Hopefully these tidbits prove helpful, and hopefully we can continue to improve these parks and open others up to off-leash play! Please do your part and pick up poops and trash while visiting Bend’s glorious parks!

The Off-Leash Epidemic

Oh Bend, the most amazing Dog Town this side of the Mississippi. How I love your glorious dog parks, your extensive hiking trails, and all your refreshing swimming holes. And apparently, so does everyone else and their mother… and their dog!

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If you live in Bend (or anywhere else where dogs and humans coexist) you’ll run into the issue of dogs freely roaming the outdoors, not a care in the world and not a leash in site. You’ll be walking along a peaceful trail, listening to the birds and the distant river, looking up at the tall pines, keeping your best friend close-by and safe with a six foot nylon leash. Suddenly you look at the trail ahead and you see an adorable little Aussie, just standing about ten feet in front of you, still as a statue, and you begin your internal dialogue, “Is this dog with a human? Should I turn the other way? Or head off trail? Is it going to approach?” Meanwhile, that best friend you keep next to you on lead is beginning to whine and tug and stress. Suddenly another human appears, and casually yells to you, “Oh it’s ok he’s friendly!” And you uncomfortably chuckle, “Ok great, mine is not!”

This is a daily occurrence. Bend is a pretty dog friendly town, and people seem to take that and run with it… off leash. There are numerous off leash dog parks and trails in town, but the majority of hiking, walking, & biking paths are leashed areas. This means your dog MUST be on leash… not if they’re cool they can hang… they MUST BE ON LEASH. This is not because the city loves power and wants to control your rights, this is for the safety of you, your dog, and everyone around you. I know, other people, what a weird concept, but a lot of people do not like dogs. A lot of dogs do not like dogs. Allowing your dog to run off leash is much easier for you and much more enjoyable for your pup, but some dogs become incredibly anxious when approached by an off-leash dog, and your dog could get hurt if it sniffs the wrong dog. Or even worse a human could get hurt.

When you are in off-leash areas, please make sure your pup is well behaved. Dogs are technically only to be off leash when they have excellent recall and are under your control. There have been instances where well trained dogs have wandered from their owners, bothering a non-dog loving human, and let me tell you, people who do not have dogs love telling you that your dog is terrible, and they love reporting you for going against the rules.

Here’s a true story from the Sydney Morning Herald: Neil McMahon had brought his dog to an off-leash dog beach. He allowed the dog to wander and enjoy itself. The dog approached a baby laying on a blanket in the sand and decided to give that baby a lick on the face. (don’t ask me what a baby was doing laying in the sand of a dog beach) The child’s mother accused the dog of attacking the baby and called the police. Neil was fined $238 because the dog was not under his control.

“‘Effective control’ is defined as follows. It means your dog will return to you upon command (fair enough, though I don’t know a dog owner who has a 100 per cent success rate on that front). It means that you “retain a clear and unobstructed view of the dog” in the off-leash area at all times (fair enough, and usually not a problem unless the whirling dervish of romping dogs gets too big or they head off into the shrubbery in pursuit of a tennis ball). But here’s the kicker that got me in trouble: ‘effective control’ means your dog ‘does not bother, attack, worry or interfere with other people or animals’.” -Neil

So if you aren’t worried about other dogs or people, at least worry about your bank account. Or being an adult and being scolded by a police officer or park ranger, cuz that would be embarrassing.

Be courteous and cautious. Be mindful of your dog and others. Be a standup, law abiding citizen. If you need help finding an off-leash area or need to become better acquainted with your areas leash laws, Google is great at looking things up! If you live in Bend the Dog PAC is an excellent resource for dog parks, summer and winter trails, and upcoming dog events! Dogster Magazine and Zuke’s have some great tips on Adventuring with your pup off leash!

*this has been on my mind lately because of how many people have been complaining of off-leash dogs in an area they thought safe to bring their dog-reactive-dog for a walk*