It is finally summer here in the Pacific Northwest (more or less!), which means nice weather and plenty of chances to enjoy the nature all around us. The Pacific Northwest is blessed with a range of different environments; there are lakes, rivers, forests, sagelands, mountains, meadows, the Salish Sea and Pacific Ocean, islands, and even temperate rainforests. With all this natural beauty, it can be hard to not take it for granted but there are many ways we still need to respect the natural world.

Take Photos and Leave No Trace

Items like rocks, flowers, driftwood, and even shells still play a vital role in the ecosystem and taking one as a souvenir can negatively impact the lifecycles they are a part of. Driftwood, for example, feeds and shelters tiny wildlife, helps prevent erosion on beaches, and eventually provides much-needed nutrients back into the environment. Wildflowers, particularly those in super blooms and meadows, improve soil health, prevent erosion, promote healthy ecosystems, and provide critical habitats for pollinators and other wildlife. Taking photos is a great way to still have a memento from the adventure!

Stay On Trails

There are so many wonderful dog-friendly National Parks around the United States where you and your pups can enjoy a day out in nature! Some even participate in the BARK Ranger program but one of the requirements for the program is to always have your dog on a leash. By having dogs on a leash, you can guarantee that they stay on the trail and not harass or stress out local wildlife. Staying on trails is important for humans too, as going off the trail could damage or kill certain plant species, stress out wildlife, and cause damage to the ecosystems, like erosion.

Drink Plenty of Water and Know Your Limits

Staying hydrated is important regardless of what activity you are doing but it’s particularly important during hotter weather. Make sure you have plenty of water while out and about and even more in your car! At the same time, be mindful that you, your pups, or others aren’t overdoing it and potentially overexerting themselves. Take plenty of breaks, drink lots of water, and enjoy the natural beauty around you!

Don’t Pet the Fluffy Cows

Bison are some of the most majestic animals we have in North America and these large mammals can seem so approachable if you’ve never seen one before. But in reality, bison can weigh thousands of pounds and are often not afraid to defend themselves and their young. That weight, combined with their horns, can cause a lot of damage to humans and some have even died because of an altercation with a bison. Instead of trying to pet a bison or get a selfie with it, respect these animals from a distance! This advice goes for every wild animal you encounter while out in the wild, as human interactions can be stressful and scary for wildlife and they may act unpredictably.

The Pacific Northwest has so much natural beauty and so many ways to enjoy the great outdoors. From hiking or walking on trails to swimming in lakes or rivers to spending time at the beach, there is no shortage of fun things to do. And many activities can include dogs! While these things can be incredibly fun for all ages, it’s also important to remain respectful to others around you, the environment, and wildlife. 

What is your favorite outdoor summer activity? Let me know in the comments!

**Featured photo is from a trip to the Nature Conservancy’s Yellow Island.

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