Activities For A Rock Climber With Dogs

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Introduction

Rock climbing is one of those activities that truly gets the blood flowing and the adrenaline racing. With beautiful views, exhilarating challenges, and usually a great group of pals to spend time with, perhaps the only thing that would make this experience even better is a dog. Lots of climbers enjoy bringing their furry friend along with them, and as long as everyone involved knows what to expect when bringing a dog along on the journey, the potential is there for totally paw-some time! However, some climbers tend to waver on the other side of the fence, feeling that bringing a dog is more of an annoyance than a pleasure. The truth of the matter is that, whether or not everything goes smoothly totally depends on the dog and how much work the owner has invested in said dog. With lots of practice, a good temperament, and the patience to make sure your pup is comfortable on the crag, there is no reason why everyone shouldn't have a wonderful experience with a dog along for the climb. There are just a few things to keep in mind if you are considering a four-pawed companion tagging along on your next rock climbing excursion. We have taken the time to compile a list of activities that you can do to prepare your dog in order for them to be the best they can be while out in the mountains!

Know Your Dog

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Any Day
Free
Easy
30 min
Items needed
Computer for Research
Activity description
When it comes to rock climbing, it is important to know which dogs will be able to handle the intense nature of the sport, and which ones will not. Of course, this will also depend entirely on each individual dog, but the main characteristics that are needed tend to be; calm, obedient, laid back, friendly, fearless, and attentive. Rappelling down the side of a rock face is no joke and when you have a dog strapped beneath you, there is no doubt that you'll want them to be calm and collected, waiting for your instruction on what to do next. So invite your pup to sit beside as you surf the net for info on dogs and climbing!
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Types of dogs
Some dog breeds that are excellent candidates for rock climbing are Australian Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Jack Russel Terriers, and of course, Mixed Breeds. As stated above, these are just suggestions and if you know that your dog can handle rock climbing (regardless of their breed) then go for it! Just pay attention to the body language and socialize the dog well so that you can feel confident in taking your pup out in that setting.
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Research results
Learn the average characteristics of dog's that go rock climbing and compare them to your dog's breed. While the decision as to whether or not your dog will be happy rock climbing lies solely on your knowledge of their personality, knowing what to look for in terms of characteristics will help to narrow down the field. Does your dog appear to be comfortable with heights? Do they have a calm and easy going demeanor? Are they agile and eager to try adventure? These are the types of characteristics you need to consider.
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Familiarize Equipment

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Sunny Day
Free
Normal
1 hr
Items needed
Dog Climbing Harness
Booties
Ropes
Belay attachments
Treats
Activity description
Before just throwing your pup into the wild world of rock climbing, it is best to get them familiar with the way that the equipment feels. A rock climbing harness and booties are recommended to ensure that your dog is safe and protected while climbing. Depending on whether or not your dog has been introduced to such items or not will determine how long it takes for them to get used to all of the new and exciting sensations. Have a patience and remember that with lots of love and reassurance, your furry friend will be feeling confident in no time!
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Introduce the harness
A rock climbing harness is basically the same as any other dog harness, with the exception of strong loops to hook your dog to your own harness as you climb or rappel. A well-made and secure harness can make all the difference in a rock climbing trip. You'll want to make sure you do some research and get references for the best, yet most affordable, harness for you and your pup. Once you have the harness, introduce it slowly and in an environment free from distractions. This will help your dog feel safe and confident while being introduced to something new. Reward often and provide plenty of reassurance if your pup is feeling a bit apprehensive!
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If the shoe fits
Booties are an optional item for rock climbing dogs, however, they are recommended if going anywhere that may potentially harm the dog's paw pads (such as anywhere with extreme weather, ice or intense heat). It will be unnatural for your pet at first, and they will absolutely walk funny, but this will pass and they'll become accustomed to it after just a bit of practice.
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Learn and Practice Rappel

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0 Votes
Sunny Day
Free
Hard
1 hr
Items needed
Dog Climbing Harness
Belay Equipment
Partner (optional)
Booties
Ropes
Treats
Activity description
Learning to rappel safely with your dog will most likely be one of the most important tasks to accomplish. This is because, even if you do not climb up something with your dog attached to you, the need to lower them down from time to time will most likely occur. Because of this, you and your dog will want to practice lowering and raising with the harness once your pet gets used to it. Depending on your dog's personality, this may be a very easy, or a very daunting, task.
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1
Find a friend
Teaching your dog to rappel comfortably will be most easily accomplished if you have a partner to help you. This will allow one person to be up top lowering the animal down, while the other is down below to comfort and catch the pup if need be. Your dog will feel more at ease with two favorite people around as well.
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Start small
Start by just picking your dog up off the ground with your hands at first. This will get them used to being suspended by the harness without the risk of serious injury should they fall or freak out. Once your furry friend is comfortable at this height, you can then work your way up high and higher, until you both feel comfortable rappelling from any height.
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Recognize body language
If your dog begins to show any signs of discomfort (yawning, excessive licking of the lips and nose, ears down, or tail between the legs) it is best to recognize that and take a break for a while. Encourage your dog with some play and affection before trying again. It is important to remember that you want this to be fun for your dog and that too much stress can leave a negative impact on the experience.
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Find the Perfect Area

Unlike some activities that include dogs, rock climbing is one that you don't necessarily need to worry about finding a "dog-friendly" area to use. Most of the wild areas that offer rock climbing have no restrictions and dogs are more than welcome. It is only if you go to certain national parks or, of course, indoor climbing places, that may have some dog restrictions in place. Before heading out on your excursion, you'll just want to make sure that you touch base with your location (if it is in question) on whether or not your furry friend will be welcome there. Consider your dog's abilities as you think about the perfect location, and make sure that the area (or a site nearby) will allow for some safe doggy frolicking once the rock climbing is done.

Support Your Dog

Even if a dog is extremely well trained, there may be times when they get uncomfortable or need you to pay them some extra attention. For instance, if a dog is yawning a lot, it doesn't mean that they are just tired. An animal will actually yawn often when it is stressed or anxious, so seeing this sign means that it may be best to take a step back and slow down to let your dog get comfortable once more. Hiding behind something or tucking the tale between the legs means that a dog is most likely nervous or afraid of the situation. Praise and treat the dog, letting them know that the situation is not a scary one and you are there to support them. If your dog's ears and mouth are in a neutral position, then they are happy and content with the activity.

Socialize Properly

One of the biggest complaints that some climbers have against dogs on a climb is, not surprisingly, lack of manners. Whether it is constant barking or stealing lunches, if a dog is not properly socialized it can cause a lot of headaches for those around them. In order to make sure that you, your dog, and the people interacting with your dog are happy, it is wise to have the pup properly socialized. Spend time introducing various stimulants to remove any negative responses; such as being around large groups of people, listening to your commands while out in a distracting area (such as in the wilderness with wildlife), and loud noises or shouting. Doing so should help your dog become a champion in blissfully ignoring the little things and only barking when needed.

Conclusion

Overall, while some climbers may find that having a dog along on a trip is just bad luck, there are a lot of little things that can be taken care of in order to ensure that the climb is enjoyable for everyone. Keeping your dog on a leash if they can't fully be trusted off it helps remove any temptation that would otherwise exist; such as stealing a lunch or wandering off into some other climber's way. Properly socializing your pet is a huge as it reduces the chance of potential barking annoying others, or a nervous dog that may injure someone else accidentally. Although it may seem daunting at first to jump through the necessary hoops, ensuring that your dog is fit for climbing in all ways will make the experience one that you'll never forget; in the best way possible!