SAULT STE MARIE, ON – Taking your pooch to the park can be nice if it’s done right.

In a blog posted to the Ontario Parks website, the Invasive Species Centre has comprised a list of things you can do to keep your furry friend happy and healthy when you hit the trails.

According to the centre, the first thing that you need to do is choose the right trail. If your dog has never done a hike before, prepare them by taking them on long walks and essentially train them to be okay going on the hike with you.

It is also a good idea to pick a trail that would be easy on paws, nice soft dirt or leaf-covered trails.

The next suggestion is to bring the right gear for yourself and your dog. According to the centre, a dog can carry a third of its own weight so you can put a pack on your dog that has its food, water, and dishes in it.

In terms of what you carry, other suggestions include tick tweezers, bandages and anti-septic. For both yourself and your dog.

Even if you chose a trail that is easy on your dog’s feet, the centre says the best way to keep them from hurting their paws is to put boots on them.

Speaking about invasive species, the centre suggests that you also have a brush, comb and a small towel to help check for any unwanted passengers.

Next on the list of helpful suggestions is to be “a responsible pet owner”, what that means is making sure your dog is on a leash unless the trail is specifically marked that pets can be off-leash

The reasoning for this is to make sure that you are not impacting other people and wildlife unnecessarily.

One of the more emphasized points in the centre’s blog post is to check your companion for invasive species once the hike is over. “Dogs are especially susceptible to contributing to the spread of invasive species. Insects or seeds of invasive plants can easily attach to your dog’s fur or paws, and ultimately spread to new areas.”

As an added precaution, it is a good idea to bring a second pair of footwear to go home with so you are not potentially taking invasive seeds to other areas.