If you’re anything like us, you love to take your favorite, furry, four-legged friend with you everywhere you go. When we go on an off-road adventure, we like to bring the whole family along, and that means bringing the dog too.
Young or old, there are some things that you’ve got to do before you put Fido on the trail. You can’t just throw him in the cab and call it good. A little bit of preparation will keep you and your best friend safe and comfortable.
Before you jump into your side-by-side and hit the gas, you need to make sure your dog knows the rules. Your dog has to know where she can sit, when she can play, and how to stay comfortable.
When you call for Sparky, he’s got to come. You never know what you might encounter out in the wild. If there are other riders, dangerous terrain, dense woods to get lost in, or just some nasty mud that you’d really rather not have to clean off, your dog has to be a good listener. If not, you’ve got to keep him on the leash all the time, and that’s no fun for anyone.
There are certain hazards that Rufus is gonna find before you can tell him to put on the breaks. That’s where aversion training comes in. Depending on where you ride, it would be a good idea to train your dog to run away from snakes instead of getting curious about them. We’ve come across more copperheads than we can count here in the Midwest and we spot a rattlesnake from time to time too. So teach that pup to avoid snakes, and you’ll avoid a serious situation
Finally, your dog needs to understand your side-by-side. If you plan on hauling Spot in the bed, you have to teach them to lay down and hold still. If they’re going to be in the cab, you don’t want them climbing all over you. Break them in slowly so that they’re comfortable no matter where or how they’re going to ride.
It’s not enough for your dog to be smart and obedient, he needs his own set of gear to stay safe too!
Goggles are a good idea for you, and a great idea for Bandit. Those big blue eyes need protection from June bugs and other flying pests that want to smash into his face when you’re cruising down the trail. They’re also great for running around through undergrowth where a dog’s face can easily get jabbed by sticks and branches. Not to mention, long term exposure to wind and dust can cause major irritation.
You can’t use just any old goggles, though. You need dog goggles. Check out Rex Specs for some good doggles and more information.
Brownie’s collar isn’t gonna cut it on a UTV. She needs a full-on harness that can fasten tightly to your 4 or 5-point seat harness. That way she can enjoy the full ride experience safely without getting tossed around the cab. It’s the best way for her to ride in the cab instead of the bed, and it’s even safer than holding her in your lap.
If there’s no room for Daisy in the cab, you’ll have to put her in the bed. A crate is an ideal solution for hunters who just need to get from point A to point B. You need a nice, robust crate that won’t fall apart when you hit a bump, and you’ll want to make sure you secure it to the bed. Put some thick padding in there as well to may sure she stays comfortable and is 100% ready to retrieve that game when you make it to your hunting spot. With a crate, Daisy can’t jump out if she gets skittish, and she won’t fall out if a big bump sneaks up on you or you have to cross an off-camber section of trail.
You’ve got your first aid kit full of bandages, burn cream, and Neosporin, but what does Shadow need if he takes a spill? Turns out it’s a lot of the same stuff, plus a way to induce vomiting, a turkey baster (for giving medicine), and veterinarian emergency contact info. Check out the ASPCA’s complete pet first aid kit guide.
We all know that Bear’s thick, cuddly coat can keep him warm when he goes out to do his business in the middle of winter, but it might not stop enough wind to keep him warm when you’re going fast on a side-by-side. Invest in a good winter jacket or windbreaker for him to make sure he doesn’t freeze when there’s 40 mph wind blowing through his hair.
If the ground is frozen, you’ll want to invest in some boots as well. Bear can handle only so much frozen ground before he’ll get uncomfortable.
Make sure you pack plenty of food and water for Princess. When it’s time to stop for lunch, she’s ready to get off the side-by-side and stretch her legs. That means a lot of running and panting and getting thirsty. Bring lots of water so she doesn’t get dehydrated, and enough food to keep her satisfied.
We know how it is—sometimes a trip with just you and your doggo is better than trips with friends and family. Your dog loves it, you love it, and if you make sure you’re prepared, you’ll have years of great memories. And for those of you who don’t have a dog yet, at least now you’ve got some good name ideas.