Anyone who has a dog knows how nice it can be to roam the terrain with your four-legged friend. Especially a trip to the local forest is a great pleasure. Such walks are not only fun, but they also keep people and animals fit, let you forget about everyday life, and have a relaxing effect – no matter what the weather. However, here are some rules that you should follow as a prudent dog owner.
The first principle for a walk through the forest: As a dog owner, pay attention to the leash requirement. For forests, this is usually regulated in the respective state law, which differ from state to state. While many federal states stipulate a general leash requirement for dog walks in forests, others allow free running outside the breeding and sowing season. A general leash requirement exists throughout Germany in nature reserves. This closed season for the game begins each year on April 1 and ends on July 15. Even if your dog is allowed to move freely again in the forest from mid-July, this does not mean that your four-legged friend can do whatever he wants there: you must ensure that the dog is trained and retrievable and that it does not poach. Do not underestimate the hunting instinct of your animal – even small dogs, which hear well in the city and in everyday life, can seize the hunting fever in the forest.
Adhere To The Leash Obligation
If your dog endangers or hinders native game, there is a risk that the animal will be shot by a hunter. Those who do not adhere to the leash requirement can face hefty fines if caught, especially if a kill has occurred. It’s best to stick to the duty – time and time again, dogs rush carrying deer to death. Many dog owners often do not consider that the exuberant play of their four-legged friends in forest meadows or on forest edges can cause just as much damage to wild animals. Parents, for example, are frightened away by the rampaging dogs and leave the place where the young are lying, and even old birds leave their brood without returning due to this sensitive disturbance. To ensure that your dog has fun on a walk even when leashed, it is best to take a dragline with you on your trip into the forest.
Be Considerate Of Other Forest Visitors
No law, but a considerate gesture that should also be taken to heart in the forest: Take your four-legged friend on a leash when walkers approach you. Many people are afraid of dogs, especially when the animals approach abruptly. Be proactive and therefore make sure your pet is close by, especially at non-visible trail crossings in the woods, and don’t run ahead and turn into a trail on your own. Oncoming walkers will thank you for it. In cases where you encounter leashed dogs outside of the closed season, it is best to leash your pet as well. There will be a reason why the dog owner keeps their pet close. Many dog owners ignore this sign – which can lead to altercations between the two animals, which can also result in more or less serious injuries and perhaps even the need to seek liability insurance. Also in encounters with joggers or cyclists, you should be able to assess the behavior of your four-legged friend and if necessary take him on a leash.
However, these protective measures are only an important basis. A residual risk always remains even with the most careful dog owners. Especially because damage to and by the animal can be surprisingly expensive, a look at additional protection is therefore strongly advised. Six federal states stipulate that dog liability insurance must always be taken out anyway (not just for specific breeds, as is compulsory in nine states) – but it makes sense in every state. In terms of price, the insurance policies are low but can cover damages in the range of several hundred thousand euros – which otherwise you, as the owner, would have to pay if your animal caused or contributed to the damage.
Wolf Encounters Are Unlikely, But Possible
Other encounters in the forest like with wolves are rather unlikely in our forests. The wolf is a shy animal and incidents where dogs are attacked are extremely rare. In Saxony, an incident occurred in 2005 when a hunting dog caught the scent of a she-wolf, moved away from the dog’s owner, and confronted the she-wolf. After suffering multiple bite wounds, the dog had to be euthanized a short time later. As reported by the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union of Germany, or Nabu for short, such incidents happen more frequently in other countries, for example in Scandinavia, where wolves more often attack hunting dogs that have strayed too far from their owner. If you want to be on the safe side and are traveling in a wolf area, keep your dog close by or even on a leash. This will protect the dog the best. If there is still an encounter with a wolf, which is unlikely, speak loudly to the animal and clap your hands. If the wolf is unimpressed, walk slowly backward with your dog on a leash and speak loudly. Make sure your dog does not try to attack the wolf.
Attention Wild Boar
Other forest dwellers are more likely to run into them on a walk: Wild boars, for example. If an encounter occurs and you have leashed your dog, move away slowly and gradually backward, ignoring your four-legged friend’s barking. Do not scold or issue commands. If your dog is moving freely in the area, above all, stay calm as best you can, because your restlessness is transmitted to the animal. If the dog does not come to you, try to lure it with treats or a toy. If the dog approaches the boar, do not go after it, because the dog could perceive this as “joining in”. If it still comes to an attack, you must not interfere, because otherwise, you will put yourself in danger.
Ticks Can Also Be Dangerous For Dogs
Ticks are a potential danger not only for humans but also for your four-legged friend. This is because dogs can also get Lyme disease and early summer meningoencephalitis (TBE), both diseases transmitted by ticks. In the best case, the bites of the blood-sucking arachnid become inflamed, and it’s not nice to come across fully-sucked ticks in the apartment that has fallen out of your dog’s fur. Especially in the nicest summer weather, the tick population explodes, especially in the woods. Therefore: use tick repellent for your dog, and carefully search the fur after a walk in the woods. Both special collars or so-called spot-on preparations are suitable as tick repellents. Chewable tablets are also available from the vet. Alternative means to combat vermin, such as amber necklaces or oils applied to the coat, often do not deliver what they promise from a scientific point of view.
If you think it’s always fresh and cool in the forest, you’re wrong. Especially when humidity and heat are high, as is often the case in late summer, forests often develop a sultry climate that can cause problems not only for you but also for your four-legged friend. In many areas, there is often little water from which the dog can quench his thirst. So if you are going to be out for a longer time and not just for a short round, be sure to take water for your dog with you.
The Forest As A Training Course
Of course, you can not only go for a relaxed walk with your dog in the forest but also combine the stay with training. Tree trunks lying on the side of the path are excellent for balance exercises and objects can be hidden everywhere in the terrain for search games. Especially the many different smells in the forest ensure that your four-legged friend has to really concentrate during the search. With such exercises, you do your animal something good, because they promote not only the body feeling but also the self-confidence of the dog and keep him physically and mentally fit. For the dog, a walk in the woods thus becomes a very special experience, and game tracks or sounds lose their appeal due to the distraction. In addition, such an excursion is also well suited to practice obedience or clicker in peace.
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