By Audrey Frederick
If you are thinking of popping your dog in the car and heading out on a vacation journey, stop for a moment, and back up.
Taking a vacation with your dog is do-able, however, it takes a little planning.
There are many places you can go with your dog and really have a great time, but first you need to start planning before your leave.
Take a moment to decide what you would like to do on your vacation, if its sight seeing, shopping, or visiting historic areas, leave your dog home.
But, if your idea of a vacation is hiking, walking through mountain trails or hitting the beach your dog can be a welcome companion, providing you do a little homework first.
In this article I will try to give you some information on places to go and some directions you can follow so you can do some research on your own.
If hiking and wandering in the midst of mountain beauty turns you on, there are some National Parks that welcome dogs with a few restrictions.
Vicious, noisy or unruly dogs are not allowed. Dogs need a current rabies certificate. Most parks require that dogs be kept on a 6-foot leash when in developed or wilderness areas.
If you are camping, dogs cannot be tied up and left alone and at night they need to be in an enclosed area such as a motor vehicle or a tent.
Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed to swim in developed swimming areas at most State and National Parks.
The five top dog friendly National Parks to visit with your pet are:
* Grand Canyon, AZ
* Acadia, ME
* Shenandoah, VA
* Yosmite, CA
* North Cascades, WA
For information on State or National Parks in your area just go on the Internet put in your state and the words state parks and you will find all kinds of information.
For national parks go to www.nps.gov/
Now if backpacking is your cup of tea and your dog is a suitable breed (not a lap dog) this can be great fun, too.
However, backpacking with your dog is not the same as backpacking alone or taking your dog for a walk. There are several things to keep in mind. First of all your dog needs a trip to the vet to get a thorough exam to make certain its bones and joints are healthy enough to make a long hike and to carry its own back pack.
After you get the go-ahead from the vet, you need to take some short trips to practice hiking.
That means you try carrying a partially loaded backpack while walking your dog on a leash and then try it with your dog carrying its own partially loaded backpack.
A dog can carry up to 25 percent of its body weight for fairly long periods of time.
There are several dog backpacking clubs you may want to contact.
They are: Dog Scouts of America (www.dogscouts.com/backpacking.shtml), K9 Trailblazers (www.k9trailblazers.org), these are just two, but go to the Internet and look for others.
Safety is a prime consideration, be certain to keep your safety and that of your pet in mind. Take along a first aid kit for you and your pet. Keep in mind that your pet is not wearing shoes so keep an eye out for sore or bruised pads.
If you and your dogâ€™s idea of summer fun is a day at the beach here are a few places to keep in mind:
* Cape San Blas, FL – 35 miles south of Panama City, Fl
* Dog Beach, CA near San Diego â€“ a doggie paradise
* St. George Island, Fl plenty of room for man and dog
* Carmel City Beach, CA short walk from the city of Carmel
* Hunting Island, SC a state park near Beaufort, SC
* Grayton Beach State Park located between Destin and Seaside, FL. 400 acre oceanfront park
* Jekyll Island, Ga on the Georgia coast â€“ loves dogs and their people
* Ft. Fisher State Park, NC outside Wilmington, NC
* First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach, VA on the Chesapeake Bay
* Guadalupe River State Park, Spring Branch, Texas 30 miles north of San Antonio, TX
These are just a few of the fun places where you and your pet can vacation.
The important thing to remember is obey the park rules and clean up after yourself and your pet.
Most every park requires some sort of proof that your pet has a current rabies shot and that you bring a leash.
Take precautions to protect your pet and yourself from the sun and heat.
For more information on places to visit with your pet go on line to www.PetVR.com, It is a great site that has tons of great information on vacationing with your pet and â€œwhereâ€ to go.
If you are a cat parent and are thinking of vacation plans, do not and I repeat do not think of taking your cat.
Kitty has already told me that you can take a trip, but please, oh pretty please, let kitty stay home.
Cats for the most part do not travel well and they totally prefer being in familiar surroundings.
They will be happy with a visit from a friendly neighbor or a family relative stopping in each day to attend to their needs.
Hiring a bonded pet sitter is another excellent way to go if you have a kitty or a dog that does not travel well.
Whatever you do and wherever you go be careful, obey the rules and most of all have fun.
For more information on traveling with your pet, please visit my website. I have several articles on traveling with your dog and/or cat plus information on flying with your pet and many more informative articles. Visit me at http://www.cats-and-dogs-on-the-web.com
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