Activities For Dogs In Kobuk Valley National Park

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Introduction

Kobuk Valley is a very dog-friendly National Park that's open to the public, meaning you can visit any time for free. Native Alaskans know that one of the best ways to reach the place during the winter is by assembling a team of sled dogs and mushing over to the park grounds, which are incredibly spacious. You can engage in a number of activities with your dog at the Kobuk Valley National Park; camping, mushing, flightseeing, wildlife watching, and skijoring are just a few of the things that pet parents can do with their canine comrade. You'll largely be responsible for your own safety, but you, your pet, and your group (if you're traveling with one) should be fine so long as you all keep cool and stay vigilant.

Skijoring

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Cold Day
Moderate
Hard
2 hrs
Items needed
Skijoring Gear
Winter Attire
Dog booties
Dog Harness
Dog Treats
Waste Bags
Activity description
Skijoring is what you get when you combine skiing with mushing. By tethering yourself to your dog via a special piece of equipment called a skijor dog harness, you'll be able to travel through the snow as your dog pulls your forward while you're standing on skis. This activity is a lot of fun, but there's a bit of a learning curve to it; first, you'll have to teach your dog how to understand and follow vocal commands. Then you'll have to get them used to their harness before finally being able to rely on them for travel. This activity can only be attempted in climates that are cold enough to sustain snow. It'll also cost you about $200 to $300 to get all the skijoring equipment you need.
Step
1
Follow through
An integral aspect of skijoring is using vocal commands to help a dog understand things like how slowly or quickly they need to move as well as which direction they need to steer both of you. You can help your dog understand basic commands by getting them to perform a certain action while saying the corresponding command. For example, the command "hike, hike," simply means move forward. You can teach your dog to move forward when they hear that command by gently pushing them forward while saying "hike, hike." Try saying the command without assisting your pet and if they move forward, reward them with a treat.
Step
2
Harnessing a harness
Dog harnesses are meant to function as sturdier versions of leashes by all intents and purposes. Dogs will ultimately learn to become comfortable with using them over time if they're able to spend a few weeks breaking them in. To help expedite this process, outfit your dog with their harness and simply let them walk around your place of dwelling while wearing it.
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3
Easy does it
The only way to see if all of your training has stuck with your dog is to take them out and get some field practice in. That being said, it's not a good idea to attempt to ski with your dog down a steep slope on their first time (or ever really.) Use an area with even terrain as your training grounds and see how much your dog has retained from training. Reward them with praise and treats for their efforts.
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Wildlife Watching

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Any Day
Moderate
Normal
30 - 60 min
Items needed
Binoculars
Leash
waste bags
Camera (DSLR or Polaroid)
Activity description
As the name implies, this activity is all about observing the native wildlife of the Kobuk Valley in their natural habitat. Grizzly bears, wolves, moose and even wolverines are just a few of the animals that you can find in the valley. There's also a menagerie of birds that both live in the valley and temporarily migrate there. Your dog will need to be on their best behavior and will need to be able to resist the urge to chase after other animals if they are to join you in this activity.  We've listed the optimal weather conditions for wildlife watching in Kobuk Valley as "any" because each season will provide you and your dog with a different experience. Certain Pieces of equipment are more expensive than others, but you'll be able to try this activity out for about $150 to $200.
Step
1
Get the right gear
The type of equipment you'll need to successfully go wildlife watching with your dog will vary depending on which creatures you're most interested in observing; bears, wolves and moose can be observed with a pair of binoculars at a great distance while animals like birds will require a telescope or a camera with a telephoto lens.
Step
2
Safe practices
As you and your dog will be watching wild animals, you'll need to exercise the utmost caution to ensure the safety of all parties. Make sure that your dog is standing by your side at all times and is leashed to you. If you have a dog that's pugnacious or is incredibly wiry, we advise not trying to observe predatory animals like bears and sticking with the birds and waterfowl that populate the area.
Step
3
Budget wildlife watching
You can also observe a number of the valley's inhabitants with your naked eye if you don't mind missing out on the opportunity to get a more in-depth look at the animals. There are plenty of squirrels, foxes, and badgers that frequent the area who can all be observed without any high tech equipment. Again, keep your companion beside you at all times, not allowing them to give chase to any of the critters who call this area home.
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Camping

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Any Day
Moderate
Normal
24 - 72 hrs
Items needed
Camping Gear
Food and Water
Pepper Spray and Mace
Leash
waste bags
Activity description
There's plenty of space in the Kobuk Valley that folks can use for camping, so you won't have any issues finding a place where you and your dog can camp out for a time. Rather the challenge in camping in the Kobuk Valley National Park stems from factors like the area's climate and the wildlife that live there. Most of the valley's native inhabitants like bears and wolves will leave you and your dog well enough alone so long as you do the same but you'll want to have a can of pepper spray or mace handy just in case. This activity becomes much easier if you camp with a group but is certainly doable with just your dog as your only companion. Reliable camping gear can be purchased for under $100 while a can of eco-friendly pepper spray can be bought for around $30. You can do this activity during any kind of weather as well, provided you pack appropriately.
Step
1
Secure your perimeter
You'll want to do this before setting up camp anywhere in the valley. Check to see that there aren't any snake nests or fox holes nearby as you may get bitten by one or have your food stolen by the other. Many individuals who've camped at the valley advise camping in the parts of the valley that are out in the open so that you'll be able to see any creatures that might be nearby much easier.
Step
2
Cleaning up
You'll definitely want to clean up after yourself while camping in the valley for two distinctly compelling reasons: reason number one, your leftovers could potentially disrupt the native wildlife's ways of life and, reason number two, some of that wildlife could potentially be drawn to you and your dog if you leave a trail of trash behind you.
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More Fun Ideas...

Landscape Photography

The vast rolling hills that populate the Valley can look positively majestic under the right conditions. If you'd like to capture some of that magic for yourself, consider getting the necessary equipment to take a number of landscape photos of the valley. You can also mix things up and take portrait photos that feature your dog and yourself with a bit of know-how and a selfie stick.

Hiking

The wide open plains of the Kobuk Valley National Park can provide hikers with a great place to trek through. There aren't any officially designated trails in the Valley, so you'll want to bring all kinds of navigational equipment to ensure that you and your pet can travel without fear of losing your way.

Flightseeing

This activity refers to the act of going sightseeing via airplane. Alaska is known to offer numerous flightseeing tours which allow fliers to get a bird's eye view of the state's more wild areas. A number of pilots will allow fliers to bring their dogs along for a trip, so consider trying this activity out if you're planning on visiting Kobuk Valley.

Conclusion

There is lots to do at the Kobuk Valley National Park and you can do most of it for little to no cost, so we feel that the park is a must visit locale for dog enthusiasts who've got a bit of wanderlust. It's truly one of the last wildlands of America - a place that's been relatively untouched by industrialization or urbanization. As such, please be conscientious of the valley's native flora and fauna; do your best to keep track of any nondisposable waste that you or your dog may produce and try not to disturb any of the other creatures that call Kobuk Valley home.