By Janet McAfee

It certainly is true that our companion animals provide us with needed love and companionship.  They improve out physical and mental health, and studies show that dog owners tend to get more exercise through dog walking.  They are also more likely to engage socially and meet their neighbors at dog parks and in their neighborhood.

Your dog provides an excellent reason for you to get some fresh air and exercise.  We are now blessed with beautiful Spring weather, the perfect time of year to enjoy walking and hiking in the Coachella Valley.  Our canine pals love being included in our activities, and exploring nature with Fido makes excursions more enjoyable for us humans.  Both humans and dogs get to exercise, get some healthy fresh air, and spend some quality time together.

Assess your dog’s readiness for hiking – Before heading out, evaluate your dog’s level of fitness.  If he is elderly or overweight, it is best to stick to walks around your neighborhood.  Remember that dogs are “people pleasers” and will push beyond their level of endurance to please you and keep up.  Keep him on a leash at all times.  Make sure your dog knows the most important command of all, “Fido (his name) Come!” in case he gets loose.


Needed supplies – Your dog can help carry some of the needed supplies in his own special backpack.  A healthy dog can carry up to 25% of his own weigh, however some breeds with long backs such as dachshunds may not be able to carry much.  You need to bring along enough water for both of you, with a collapsible bowl to serve your pup.  Give him plenty of water during the excursion because dogs become dehydrated quickly.  Water in streams, lakes, and drains may contain parasites and viruses.  Bring high quality treats to keep up Fido’s energy level.

Plan Ahead – Make sure your destination permits dogs on trails. Most United States national parks do not allow dogs on trails. The book “140 Great Hikes in and near Palm Springs” provides a list of local trails that permit dogs to accompany hikers. Their list includes the Palm Springs Desert Museum Trail and the Araby Trail also in Palm Springs.  If the area is crowded with other hikers and walkers, go to a less populated location to keep yourself safe. Campgrounds welcome visitors with well- behaved dogs and they are full of trails to explore. Some of them include enclosed dog parks on lakes where pups can romp off leash and enjoy swimming in the water.

Dog Walking Etiquette – Do not allow your dog to roam free without a leash!  You could violate leash laws in your jurisdiction.  Don’t allow your dog to lunge toward other dogs you encounter.  Use those poop bags to pick up your pet’s waste.

Dog Beaches – Here is a unique experience and magical for you and Fido. You can escape the Coachella Valley hot summer for a day at one of the dog beaches in Southern California. Most popular is the dog beach in Ocean Beach, located at the foot of Voltaire Street.  Tucked away near the Del Mar racetrack is Solana Beach, a lovely spot that allows dogs from September 15 through June 15.  The Huntington Beach Dog Beach is another great place.  It’s almost surreal to see the dogs happily frolicking in the ocean while the people sit on the sand watching them.

Car Rides – Almost all dogs love to travel, and this is a great time to take a car ride and bring your dog along.  You can head out and explore some of our beautiful Southern California scenery. Check out some places by car that you have always wanted to visit, and Fido will make it even more enjoyable.

Are you still “dogless” in the desert?  This might be the best time ever to adopt a wonderful rescue dog or cat.  They help reduce stress and loneliness, and their loving and loyal presence so many benefits.

Our local Riverside County shelter, the Coachella Valley Animal Campus, is the largest animal shelter in this area and often has about 200 animals seeking homes .  View their wonderful animals online at  They are located at 72050 Pet Land Place in Thousand Palms. Loving All Animals is the private rescue I work with, and they operate a private shelter in Coachella.  View their information at and call (760) 834-7000 for more information about adoption. Assistance from a professional dog trainer is now included in their adoption program.  I help people looking to adopt rescue dogs of certain types and breeds and would be happy to help you find your best new fur-friend.

Enjoy this beautiful Spring season

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