The pawsome adventure dog

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My biggest adventure comrade is my dog, Maeko. He loves getting his hands (paws?) as dirty as I do. The second the hiking pack, the bikes, or the bouldering pads are taken out, he does his excited happy dance. We constantly have people tell us that we are lucky to have such a good dog, that we are lucky we can take him out with us. Maeko does have a good disposition, but it isn’t luck. We worked hard to teach him, he worked hard to please us, and we have all been rewarded by the effort. He is a part of our family, which resulted in him joining us in the move from Australia to the UK/Europe to travel around in a converted van.

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Pro’s of having an adventure dog

  • Having Maeko with me on trails and tracks gives me an extra bout of confidence, as I never feel alone.
  •  He has to get taken out every day, rain, hail, or shine. This is great (no, really!) It means that every day we are outside at some point doing some form of activity. This is great for the body, but also the mind.
  • If I’m ever unmotivated, I just look at him and try to harness his unwavering motivation and energy to be outside- it honestly works.
  • He is an endless source of energy and, as such, entertainment. No lunch break goes without a laugh.
  • Meet up with other dog owners! I loved heading out each week with a friend back home, with our dogs loving the hike as much as we did.
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Con’s of having an adventure dog

  • There’s always one more to think of. You need water for them, maybe a mid trail snack, first aid, poo bags, leash etc…
  • No matter how well trained, they can always do something that you aren’t prepared for. Just remember, they aren’t little robots!
  • Be aware of your dog’s abilities. Not all dogs can do the same thing. Don’t expect your small breed dog to go on an off-path hike with giant steps. Maeko was injured as a pup, which has resulted in him not being the most socially aware dog, as well as having certain issues with his rear legs that we aware of, and manage.
  • They are your responsibility. Your pup will rely on you to make the right decision and to look after them. I often put Maeko before me, and whilst some see it as weird, I feel obligated to ensure he always feels safe- if he is happy and comfortable, then I can be relax and also enjoy the activity!
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Getting Fido out there

  • First things first, remember that having a dog is a responsibility, not a right! It is up to you to ensure responsible pet ownership 
  • Be prepared. I carry extra water, a collapsible bowl, poo bags, a dog coat, treats, first aid.
  • Teach them to stay behind you. With mountain bike trails and hikes, Maeko stays behind us, unless we tell him he otherwise. This means that if we run into other riders, dogs, or people walking, we meet them first.
  • Be aware of other people and dogs. Not all people like dogs, not all dogs like dogs, and your dog won’t like all dogs and people. If you are bringing your pup out, it is up to you to ensure that everybody (including any pups) feels safe on the trails and tracks.
  • Positive reinforcement! If Fido is doing something wrong, it’s because you aren’t asking in a way that they understand. Try breaking the command up into smaller steps, rewarding them as they do it correctly.
  • Start small. Go on small walks and rides first, and build up from there. Don’t take them on a 20km bike ride if they are only used to the dog park.
  • Be aware of local regulations, such as in Australia National Parks not allowing pets, and council requiring leashes unless stated otherwise.
  • Plan your activity so that the temperature best suits Fido. Hot and humid aren’t good (no matter how the dog acts); cold can generally be managed ok. Except the time I had to carry my 26kg dog over my shoulders as his little Australian feet went on strike against the Scottish snow covered streets.
  • Are there any area specific hazards eg: snakes, ticks that you should be aware of
  • Can you reduce, or remove, such hazards?
  • Have a backup plan. What will you do if Fido gets hurt? Can you manage it by yourself? Ensure that your vets number is in your phone for a quick call if needed.
  • Get a collar, and have your details on it, or on a tag. This will result in a quick reunion if Fido’s nose gets the better of them.

Having an adventure dog isn’t for everyone, and that’s ok, but my boy is as much a part of my life adventure as I am! An adventure pooch can bring so much enjoyment and fun into the day to day happenings. Just remember that adventure pups can come in all different shapes and sizes (just like us!), so give your pup a chance!

Check out Courtney and Maeko @eightlegsvanlife