Dog Duties

Spring advice for dog-owners.

Spring is here and summer’s just around the corner. The snow’s melting, the days are getting longer, and we’re itching to get out to our favorite spots. Who better to join us than Fido, our favorite canine companion? Here are a few things to keep in mind as we get ready to hike, ski, run, bike, or walk one of the many Bozeman-area trails this spring. 

Before heading out for any of the aforementioned activities, it’s a good idea to have him checked out by the vet. Just like us, being in shape is important to a healthy lifestyle, but starting with a clean bill of health is key as well. Vaccinations are an extremely important part of being a good pet parent. The only vaccination that is required by Montana state law is the rabies shot (you can also look into the titers test); other than that, it only takes a short conversation with your vet about what vaccinations you need to be sure your dog is covered. Be aware that your dog can get diseases from carcasses and animal excrement, which are abundant during the spring thaw. 

Under Control
If you’re going to have your four-legged friend off-leash, be sure that he’s truly under voice control. He’ll be as excited about the warmer weather as you are, and it’s convenient to just let him run around and check out his environment. But having your dog along for your activities is your responsibility, not his. It is NOT okay for your pet to chase wildlife, as it causes undue stress on the animal. Most species are already trying to recover from a long winter, and some may have young or be expecting. Plus, you and your dog could be in big trouble with law enforcement, as new ordinances have strengthened leash requirements. 

Plan Ahead
Come prepared—for anything. The list of items that you should have depends on the activity you may be participating in, but there are some staples. Always have a good strong leash, a collar (with tags), poop bags, snacks, and water. Look into a backpack for the dog and let him carry his stuff. A first-aid kit is also a smart idea. You’d rather be prepared for the worst, and never need it than not be prepared at all. 

Be Aware
It doesn’t really matter what you and your dog are doing; maybe it’s walking around the neighborhood enjoying a warm spring evening, running to the top of the M at 6am, cross-country skiing the west side of the Bridgers, or just sitting in the front yard watching the world go by. Think about those around you; not everyone is as excited about dogs as you are, and while you might eat, sleep, and breathe your pooch, the neighbors appreciate some common-sense consideration. 

Ron Murray is the owner of Montana Murray Kennels in Bozeman.