A dog hiking in Tenneesee.

While rambling along a trail towards Clingmans Dome or hiking near Paint Rock, it’s easy to immerse yourself in the scenic wonder of our state. But knowing what is in store for you and your dog while on an outing is paramount for a great time as well as a safe return for both of you.

Before exploring, do a bit of research about the different types of wildlife, terrain, and weather hazards in your area. Although it may seem a bit preconceived and to spoil the surprise of discovery, it can actually reinforce the strength and impact of the experience.

Before venturing out on your next adventure, take a moment to ingrain some of these very important outdoor pet safety tips and tricks, and keep your pup safe while you’re both immersed in the great Tennessee wilderness and Smoky Mountains National Park.


Know the natural wildlife predators in a given area. This is an important one, as various animals from bugs to bears can cause irreparable harm to your furry friends.

  1. Bears – Bears are in the area as the population density is about 2 bears per square mile. Special care should be taken, as they may end up with more than just your picnic basket if you fail to give them the much needed space and respect they deserve. One solution would be to make lots of noise while exploring by singing a song and or by both you and your pup wearing a “bear bell.” Remember, although they often want to avoid you, they will not leave their young behind in doing so and that is a dangerous time for everyone.
  2. Snakes – Copperheads in particular are a naturally occurring predator in the greater Tennessee area. Copperheads may strike if are accidentally disrupted. The way to identify this snake breed is usually by a golden tan or reddish in color with hourglass-shaped bands on its back. Copperheads lurk mostly in water, but can also be found in rocky areas and forests. Leash-up your pup while exploring in a less than openly visible area.
  3. BugsTicks can be a daily nuisance in the hills of Tennessee. Their presence is nearly constant and prevention is key, as avoidance is almost impossible. Special treatments both orally and externally can be applied to repel ticks and other bugs that want to become all too familiar with your puppy pal.

Natural Hazards

Various natural hazards such as terrain and inclement weather can and will surprise the most seasoned of outdoor enthusiasts.

  1. Weather – Taking a moment to check that weather app for your area may be important to avoid a less than high and dry time.
  2. Water Crossings – Avoid water crossings greater than ankle deep as your furry friend may get caught up in the moment and swept away into danger. If it is raining, waiting for the rain to stop, may be the best bet to cross a stream as they tend to swell with the rainstorms.
  3. High Spaces – Self awareness and preservation may come natural to many dogs, but some, might understand the law of gravity less than others. Identify if your canine companion is gravity challenged and “leash-up your pup” to keep them safe from an unwanted fall from grace with gravity.

Keep ‘Em Safe and Keep You Happy

Whether, it’s the outdoor challenges or the vistas of grandeur, spending time outdoors with your dog may be the best part of Tennessee living. In enjoying that great life, take a moment and remember that information and education is the best medicine in keeping everyone aware of outdoor pet safety. From Volunteer Veterinary Hospital, happy trails and tails and don’t forget to keep your noses in the wind to stay aware and make the best of any outdoor adventure.