Tips for Bringing Dogs on Offroad Adventures
Who says you have to leave your dog behind to go offroad? It is possible to bring your four-legged friend(s) on your ATV-UTV adventures. All it takes is a little patience and common sense.
Whether you want an assistant for hunting trips or simply a companion for your offroad travels, a little preparation goes a long way to getting your canine to safely and comfortably ride along on your four-wheeler. Here are some tips for taking your dog(s) on ATV or side-by-side offroad adventures.
Get Your Dog Comfortable with Riding
Riding in a loud, shaky vehicle on a bumpy trail can be a jarring experience for a canine. Before you start taking your dog on offroad excursions, you should get “Sparky” comfortable with being on your vehicle, preferably in a crate or carrier.
Start by slowly introducing your dog to the ATV or side-by-side. Hang out with your furry friend on the machine while it’s parked and let them sniff around it. Give your dog time to get familiar with the four-wheeler before you try taking him/her for a ride.
Next, start putting treats and/or toys inside the crate or pet carrier to give your dog positive reinforcement or incentive to get inside it. Once the pooch gets used to being inside the carrier, start taking your pal on short, slow rides until they’re comfortable with standard trips. Keep in mind that many dogs won’t be able to handle being on a four-wheeler for several straight hours on their first ride. It can be a scary experience, so it's important to gradually build up their comfort level.
Keep Your Dog Comfortable
Once your dog is comfortable with going for ATV or UTV rides, it’s even more important to keep them comfortable during the actual rides. Whether you’re transporting your pooch in a crate or carrier, bring a cushion or blanket for them to sit on.
Also, keep the weather in mind ahead of your trip and pack accordingly. If you’re expecting a hot day, make sure to bring a spacious ventilated carrier to prevent heat exhaustion. Bring a dog cooling vest or bandana, as well as a bowl full of water to help keep your dog cool. Also, bring treats to reward your dog for good behavior, and take regular breaks throughout your trip to give your dog some rest.
Another way to make your dog comfortable during offroad trips is to keep walks, chow times and bed time as close to your normal routine as possible. This helps keep dogs in unfamiliar environments less stressed. Bringing their usual dog bed from home is another way to keep your dog comfortable, as it already has their familiar scent on it.
Keep Your Dog Safe
A carrier or crate isn’t only for comfort, but also for safety, which is the most important thing to keep in mind when bringing dogs along for offroad trips. You’ll want be able to securely attach the carrier to your four-wheeler to protect your friend from falling off the machine and from getting hit by trail debris.
Your dog(s) should also be secured to some kind of harness near the driver’s seat to keep them not only from jumping or falling off your vehicle, but also from jumping on or trying to play with you while you’re driving. There are all-in-one pet carriers available that come with everything you need to safely bring your dog along for offroad rides, including leashes, padding, harnesses, and even food and water trays.
Other things to consider as far as comfort and safety for your dog is concerned include:
- Carrier or crate that’s compatible with the size of your dog
- Roll-bar padding to protect dogs from head injuries
- Padding or coverings for any exposed sharp edges
- First-aid kit that includes your dog’s medication
- Plenty of dog food and water
- Pet hair brush to remove stickers
- Tie-down straps for your own cargo to prevent it from hitting your dog
- Veterinarian check-up before each trip to make sure your dog is healthy enough to travel
Finally, no matter how slowly you’re going, never ride your four-wheeler with the dog tied to the leash. Because if the ATV or UTV rolls over or the dog walks too close to or in front of the machine, it could injure or worse, kill your four-legged best friend. Offroard riding adventures should be fun for both you and your dog, so these tips should help keep your dog safe, comfortable and begging to come back for more!