Get Your Dog Trail Ready

By Brett

Dogs are a huge part of the lives of our team members at Odyssey Resorts, and we enjoy making friends with new dogs. We love it when guests choose to bring up their pups to join in on the adventure. We have several properties which we have designated dog-friendly destinations for you and your pup to kick back and relax after a day’s worth of adventure.

We believe no dog should be left behind when it’s possible to bring them along with us, especially on the North Shore where there are so many dog-friendly activities, trails, and businesses that will welcome your pup. They deserve to be treated like family after all, and have the time of their life, just like you.

As fellow dog owners, we know that it can be stressful and overwhelming for you to plan a trip together with your furry friend. Embarking on a hiking trail with your dog can be a satisfying and unforgettable experience. However, not all trails are created equal when it comes to hiking with your furry friend. It’s important to choose the right one to ensure your dog’s safety and enjoyment before heading out on an adventure. With that in mind, read on for tips on how to select the perfect trail for your adventure dog.

Meet Mandy + Buzz! 

Frequent visitors to the North Shore, Mandy and Buzz,  a Great Pyrenees Mix have been together since 2019, and in that time travelled across 11 states, enjoyed 41 out of 66 Minnesota State Parks, and even adventured across 2 continents. 

In their training and travels, Mandy + Buzz work with one another, focusing on Buzz's reactiveness(meaning he needs his space) in situations, which has led them to mine "hidden gems free of triggers" so they can enjoy nature and have fun together.

Preparing for distance and difficulty

Dogs are a lot like their owners, and it’s important to make sure that you and your dog are prepared for a journey. They need to be in good physical shape to be able to hike comfortably. Before a trip, start by taking your pooch on short walks to build up their endurance (and yours too!). Gradually increase the distance and difficulty level as your dog begins to get more comfortable with the distances for an enjoyable hike.

Every dog will handle trail conditions differently. Whether you are visiting in winter or summer, it is helpful to understand if your dog needs a cooling vest, boots, or weather coats on the trip. 

If so, it is very important to get them desensitized to the accessories before the trip. Start by putting the clothes/boots on them for short periods of time to start with tons of treats and praise while gradually extending the time period.
Note: Buzz remains leashed at all times, but  is removed during the photo editing process.

Visit Your Vet

Don't forget to take your furry friend to the vet! Keep them up to date on their vaccines to avoid any illnesses, especially if you plan to visit frequent lakes or ponds for your pup to cool down. These have the potential to be contaminated with Leptospirosis or giardia, especially if they are used to living in the cities.

Flea and tick prevention is also a must, especially if you're adventuring along the North Shore. If you've got a new puppy, your vet can guide you on their immunity development and vaccine schedule, ensuring you hit the trails together at the safest age.

You can choose to get your dog vaccinated with Lepto vaccine if they tend to drink from lake or pond water on adventures.

Besides flea and tick prevention, it is helpful to bring dog-friendly sprays that help keep deer flies away. Those can make hikes very uncomfortable, for both human and dogs. 

Make sure to bring vet records on the trip in case you need to go to the emergency vet.

Trail facilities

Choose a hiking trail with facilities and amenities that will make it easier for you and your dog. Facilities such as water fountains, restrooms, and waste stations make the experience more enjoyable for you and your pup. Also, plan to bring water and snacks for both you and your dog to rest and recharge while out exploring.

Please follow the Leave No Trace principles while out on the trails and in nature with your pup by cleaning up after them and packing in waste and trash.

Follow the Rules

Not all trails are dog friendly, so it’s important to do the proper legwork to determine if your pup will be welcome. According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, pets are welcome in Minnesota’s state parks and waysides (most run along Highway 61)as long as they are kept on a leash six feet or shorter and are personally attended to at all times. Please keep in mind that only service animals are allowed inside state buildings, lodgings, cabins, and other facilities on these sites.

In addition to state parks and waysides, please be aware that dogs are not typically allowed within designated Scientific and Natural Areas, such as Iona’s Beach or Sugarloaf Point within Sugarloaf Cove Nature Center. However, dogs are welcome on the interpretive trail, and there are some exceptions such as the Lutsen SNA. For a complete list of exceptions, please visit the Minnesota SNA Rules page.

According to the Superior Hiking Trail Association, dogs are welcome but “must be kept on a leash regardless of how well-trained the dog is.”

Mandy + Buzz's Trail Finding Tips:

•  Use the information desk in state parks (there are maps!)
•  Join the Hiking Minnesota group on Facebook
•  Download the All Trails App for recommendations
•  Download Avezna Maps (helpful for when there is no signal)

Choose the right trail:
To make it an enjoyable experience for both you and your dog, it is very important to find the right trail. 

A couple things to ask yourself:
•  Is my dog comfortable around people/dogs?
•  Can my dog handle the trail condition? (rocks/elevation, etc.)

Buzz splashes into Lake Superior at Lutsen Sea Villas.

Practice Trail Etiquette

In addition to keeping your pal or princess leashed, please maintain control of your pup while out on the trail. Be respectful by yielding to the right of way of fellow hikers (bikers and horses if necessary) by stepping off the trail when necessary. Your leash is the most valuable tool against wildlife and many areas ask that your pup respect the native wildlife that we share our trails with. This is especially important if your dog has a high prey instinct or tends to chomp down on wild plants which could be toxic to your furry friend.

If your dog is reactive (fearful of people/dogs,) I’ve found it very helpful to step off the trail when we see triggers and throw treats on the ground for them to find so they are distracted and not focused on triggers. If you are not hiking alone, having your partner advocate for the space is very helpful as well.
Don’t forget to pack out filled waste bags or gloves and take them with you. If you are worried about breaches, double bag them on the trail, and remove any intact outer bags before disposal as the nearest waste bin.

By following these tips, you and your dog can be courteous and responsible hikers as you hit the trails on the North Shore.

Keep Up With Mandy + Buzz's Adventures:

Follow along with Mandy and Buzz on their blog, or on Instagram, where you can find more great hikes and training tips, for inspiration for you and your pup's own epic adventure!
Featured image courtesy of Scruff Life Photography.
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