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Geocaching With Dogs

With a handheld GPS Receiver and a trusty dog it's time to go seek treasure

MetPet.com Staff Writer

Geocaching (GEE-oh-cash-ing) is an internet-based 'treasure' hunt using a handheld GPS receiver and clues found at Geocaching.com, Terracaching.com and at other caching sites on the web.  The basic idea is to use your GPS receiver to go to a specific location and find a 'cache' that another geocacher has hidden.  The cache could be anything from a large box containing plastic toys to a small container with just a log book to an interesting landmark just for your viewing pleasure.

Geocaching is a fun, self-paced activity that you can do whenever you feel the urge.  Since most of the caches are found in public parks and byways, they are accessible to people walking dogs.  This is, in fact, a great way to discover hidden parks and trails for walking with your dog. 

Quick Start to Your First Geocache

What you will need:

1. A handheld GPS Receiver.  These are about twice the size of a cellphone and range in price from around $80 to several hundred.  Their primary purpose is to receive positioning information from the myriad satellites that your tax dollars (several billion of them apparently) have sent up into orbit.  They are the small cousins of the GPS systems made for cars and are made by a number of manufacturers including Garmin and Magellan.

As long as you aren't under dense cover or blocked by tall buildings, your GPS Receiver will tell you where you are on the planet within a few feet.  Some geocaches are easy to find with the coordinates provided.  Other geocaches require solving puzzles in order to get the correct coordinates.  The caches themselves are usually hidden requiring some poking around to find.   

2. A reasonably well-behaved dog that is up for a little adventure.

3. A writing instrument to log in your arrival at the cache just in case the resident pen has gone missing. 

4. An item(s) to put into the cache so you can take something out of the cache.  Not all caches are large enough to have items to trade inside them and some caches are restricted to specific types of items.  Items should be durable (no food) enough to survive being stuck in a box in the middle of the woods but do not need to be expensive.

5. A cache to find somewhere in your neighborhood.

a. You can start off at Geocaching.com and register for a free account.
b. Put in your zip code and get a list of caches near you.
c. When you click on a cache's name, you'll get a list of important attributes.  The most important is the little black and white symbol that means 'dogs allowed'. 
d. Read the attributes (size and type of cache, location, clues) of a number of caches.  Those with a low level of difficulty and easy terrain are good places to start. 
e.  Click on the cache map to get a general location of
where it is located. 

Off you go!

It does help to spend a few hours roaming around your neighborhood figuring out how to use the GPS receiver before you start looking for a cache.  Remember to give the device enough time out in the open to find the satellites and then try using the compass, marking of waypoints and other features. 

You will need to figure out how to input location data if you want the device to point you in the right direction (and tell you how far away you are --- pretty slick) to the cache.  Your device may have many more interesting features including keeping track of how far you've gone in how much time and how long you've been standing in one place getting zero exercise. 

Pack up the dog, take the GPS receiver, remember to take a writing instrument and items to trade and off you go.  Geocaching, once you're old enough to buy your own trinkets, is less about finding a treasure box and more about discovering the great outdoors right outside your window.  If you are so inclined and know of interesting landmarks, dog walks and points of interest for other geocaching dog lovers, you can start your own dog-themed cache and spread the cheer. 

Related Information:
Flyball For Dogs
Dog Parks
To The Beach With Your Dog
 

 
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