As the warm weather begins to hit the Valley, residents love to venture outdoors to their favorite hiking spots, with many choosing to bring their dogs on the trails with them.

Trails give dogs a change of scenery from their usual visits to dog parks but to ensure a wonderful outdoor experience for yourself and your pet you should practice the National Parks’ B.A.R.K. rule wherever you hike, said Alessandra Navidad, CEO of the Arizona Animal Welfare League. B.A.R.K. stands for “bag your pet’s waste,” “always leash your pet,” “respect wildlife” and “know where you can go.” By keeping your pet on a suitable hiking leash, including easy walk harnesses, you allow your animal to have ample mobility while on the trail and to keep them safe from unexpected encounters with wildlife. There are many different forms of wildlife in the state and when the weather changes in the spring and summer rattlesnakes often frequent hiking trails.

Navidad also urges pet owners to keep in mind that while their dog might be playful and friendly off leash, many dogs are not as comfortable around strangers. Remember that dogs are hikers wearing a fur coat. Navidad recommends people plan their hikes around a time of day that will not exhaust their dogs like early mornings or evenings. Your pet also should drink an ounce of water for every pound per day and even more than that when hiking.

The mission of Arizona Animal Welfare League is to offer excellent care, protection and compassion for animals and to take a leadership role in promoting humane values to benefit animals and people. To learn more, visit