If you’re like me, your dog(s) is your best friend(s). (I have two, hence the plurality, because you know, they need buddies too!) They snuggle you, probably give you some silly laughs, and overall just love you unconditionally. If this is you and you’re thinking about getting married or want to elope with dogs), I can 100% understand why you want them to be involved in your wedding day! I love my babies (Kida and Milo – yes we named them after the Disney movie Atlantis) and couldn’t imagine not having them involved on our day. Milo was just born so we didn’t have him yet, but we had Kida be our flower pup and ring bear!
Before I get into the tips, it’s important to note that in Washington you can bring your dogs on certain trails, but unfortunately not all. In national parks (Mount Rainier National Park, North Cascades National Park, Olympic National Park) they can only be by cars, so you can’t take them on the trails. However, you can find trails on the National Forest lands in similar areas that do allow dogs on the trails! If you want to add your dog to your elopement, reach out to me and I’ll help you find dog-friendly trails!
One of the principles of Leave no Trace practices is to Be Prepared. Being prepared means planning ahead to make sure everyone (including your dogs!) stays safe for your wedding day adventure! I know you love your dogs, so if you’re eloping in the wilderness, you’ll want to think of them during your planning process so you can be sure to keep them safe! Here are several tips for keeping your floofy babies safe!
Here’s a list of questions I’d encourage you to ask yourself before deciding to include your pup on your hike for your elopement.
This is an important question in figuring out your dog’s ability and health safety levels. Puppies shouldn’t go on long hikes before 1 year of age because they (especially larger breeds) are still growing. Their growth plates and joints are not quite fused together yet, and any excess strain on their bodies could actually hurt them in the long run. Older dogs might have a variety of other health issues or hip problems, which could actually cause a problem on the trail.
If you have a puppy, older dog with health issues, consider an easy-access location, so you can still have them during your day! I’d hate for you to have something bad pop up during your day, so let’s keep fido safe. 🙂
How does your dog react to other people or other dogs? Do you know how they’ll react near a rushing river, near cliffs, as they climb over roots, or even if they see a wild animal? Do they get anxious on a leash when leashed for too long? Understanding your dog is so important to make sure you know how to react and make decisions if any situations arise, to keep them safe.
One way to help is to keep them leashed. Most trails actually require dogs to be on a leash and it’s all for safety. I know plenty of hikers who don’t love dogs, and who don’t want dogs running up to them. Even though every fiber in my being wants to pet and snuggle pups I see on the trail, I definitely respect any hiker who is teaching their dog to ignore people and just keeps on hiking. They are doing the best for their dog and the safety of others! You should also use a leash so your dog doesn’t chase any wildlife they may see. It also protects any vegetation on our lands. Ultimately we are all sharing the same land and we should provide respect to everyone and every other animal using the trails!
Having the ability to call your dog back to you in case of an emergency is key. I can’t tell you how scary it is for your dog to get away from you! With Kida, she got out of our house when she was younger and just started sprinting because she had a lot of pent-up energy. It took a few family members and treats to get her back. She got onto a busy county highway and family members helped stop traffic to keep her safe before she eventually made her way back to me on the property. My heart stopped not knowing whether or not I would be able to catch her. I want you to be able to call your dog back in case of situations like this!!
When you hike for an elopement, you’ll be packing your own gear + anything special you decided to bring! Try to have your pup hike with their supplies on their backs too!
Take them on short trails you know they can handle and work your way up to longer hikes. We don’t personally take our dogs out hiking often because between the 2 of them, it’s over 200 pounds of dog we really don’t want to chance getting hurt and needing to carry off a mountain. However, as I’m always hiking, I always take notice of the conditions of the trails I do hike (roots, trail edges, rocks, length, elevation, etc), to make the call on whether it’s safe for us to bring them back!
Additionally, have them also wear their doggie backpack around the house or on shorter hikes and slowly increase the weight until you get to everything you want them to carry. You don’t want to stress them out by piling on a bunch of weight at the trailhead.
If you’re eloping, I really recommend someone else coming along and taking care of your dog. Even if you are confident your dog can handle the hike, it allows us the freedom to take pictures wherever we want, some with your pup and some without. You’ll have someone else who is in charge of snacks or water for the dog, so you two can focus on having an amazing adventure to say our I dos! Bonus…this person could be a witness for you too!
Ultimately I encourage you to really consider your dog’s health and safety when deciding to elope with dogs. If they are going to hike on your adventurous elopement or if you’re going to need an easy-access spot take them into planning consideration. I personally LOVE puppers, love photographing them, love cuddling the sh*t out of them. I know you love your puppers too, so let’s keep your best friend safe <3
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