Written by Jolly Llama @sup_with_pup
It was one of those perfect November days. Not warm, not cold, just a perfect 70 degrees in North Carolina. There was a slight breeze, just enough to release the amber and red leaves from the tress, but not enough to feel windy.
We had arrived at the campsite the day before, and I was exhausted. Not from the drive, the traffic, or anything else, just exhausted from life. My husband’s father had just passed away, and my desk job had hit a boiling point.
So that morning I couldn’t decide what to do; we were surrounded by mountain biking trails, a beautiful lake, hiking trails – the possibilities were endless. Noticing two tress in our campsite, I made the type of decision I don’t normally make – to do nothing! I sent my husband off to bike, and stayed behind with Riley and Kona. As I set up my hammock, Kona was unusually wiggly. I thought for sure she was going to give me a hard time about not taking her for a run, but she didn’t. As I got into the hammock, Kona came right over, threw her 2 front paws up, and I hoisted over her back legs. She immediately fell asleep. Riley then positioned himself on the ground in front of us, his ears up and alert in true shepherd fashion.
We lay in the hammock all afternoon; I alternated between watching the leaves fall through the air, sleeping and reading. The campground had emptied out and it was completely silent. With one dog at my feet and the other curled up with me I felt the weight of the world leave my tired body. The gentle sway of the hammock and the soft sound of the leaves hitting the ground were restorative.
For the rest of our trip, I had tons of energy to bike, paddle, and hike. I felt light – my stress was gone. I think my dogs knew that I needed a day of relaxation in nature. They aren’t normally so content to lay around, but that day they were. Since then both dogs have taken a bigger interest in the hammock, especially Kona. Now when I set it up she can’t wait to hop in with me.
Allowing my dogs to hang in the hammock with me is just one more thing we can enjoy together. But they weren’t always so comfortable in them, so like all our joint activities we did some training. Here are some tips for safely introducing a dog to a hammock:
- Always hang the hammock low. A squirrel or a dog bark will send Kona flying! You never want your dog to fall or jump from a big distance, so keep it close to the ground. A good rule of thumb is to make sure you can reach the ground with your foot.
- Introduce the swing gradually. Neither one of my dogs like it when the hammock swings, it definitely frightens them. But since hammocks naturally swing, try to keep your feet on the ground the first few times you put your dog in so you can control with swing.
- Be the boss. Your dog should always be invited into the hammock, and never jump out unexpectedly. You can practice this by always getting in the hammock first, then calling your dog over and giving a command to hop in. After your hang let your dog out first so you can control the swing.
- Choose level ground under your hammock. Because dogs will be dogs, and sometimes even a well-trained dog will jump out you can lessen the chance of an injury by finding a spot that’s level underneath you.
- Love, praise and treats. Always bring along a few treats so your dog associates the hammock with good stuff. And make sure you give lots of love and praise when your pup settles in!