For all the outdoor enthusiasts out there (or dog enthusiasts), hikes are the perfect time to get in some exercise for you and your dog, not to mention some incredible bonding time. If you’ve never been hiking with your dog before, there are a few things to consider before you take off on your first adventure hike with your best friend.
Step one for any adventure with your best friend is to make sure he or she is up for it. That means before hiking with your dog or overnight trips, make sure your dog is in good health and has had all their flea and tick preventions or shots that they may need. A quick trip to the vet can help with this, they can also inform you of any precautions you may want to take depending on where you will be hiking with your dog. You may also want to plan your route and figure out where you will be staying. If you’re looking for dog-friendly hiking trails or even places to stay, check out BringFido.com. This site can direct you towards the right destinations, dog-friendly hikes, and everything else involving your dog.
Although this may be contrary to common belief, any dog can be a good hiking companion. Small and large dogs alike enjoy hikes, you just need to make sure the terrain you choose can be handled by your dog. Smaller dogs may have trouble on bigger rocks, and so on. Also, take into consideration your dog’s age and the level of physical activity required before choosing your route. Working your dog into bigger and longer hikes is important, start small.
There are a few items you should consider picking up before hiking with your dog. While a collar and a leash are perfectly fine for regular walks and easy hikes, you may want to look into a harness for your pup. A harness will help take the pressure off your dog’s neck, especially if they have a tendency to pull on their leash. Even if they are good on a leash, uneven terrain during hikes can be dangerous for dogs on a leash that is only connected to their neck. If they slip or fall a harness will help distribute their weight more evenly, making it easier for you to get your pooch back on their paws. Keep in mind that harnesses, like dogs, come in all different sizes, so be sure to check their measurements before purchasing one.
There are also a number of things to think about bringing when you go hiking with your dog. Some of the essentials are:
- A collapsible bowl and water
- Treats and/or food
- ID tags and collar
- Doggie bags to collect waste
- A towel and first aid kit for injuries
- Dog blanket so your dog can rest
- Dog rain coat, booties, or sunscreen
If you decide to pack all of these items or take longer day hikes and overnight trips, you may want to consider a backpack for your dog. These packs are made especially for dogs to carry their own gear. I will forewarn you, these backpacks take some getting used to for dogs, and again, they are sized, so be sure to pick up the right size for your pup. Take some time to get them used to their pack by having them wear it around the house or on short walks, and wait to put gear or weights in it until they are used to the pack before taking them out on the trail. For more information on dog packs, check out an earlier post on Training Your Dog To Hike With A Backpack.
On The Trail:
Now that you’ve gotten prepared to go hiking with your dog, there are a few things to remember while you’re out on the trail. First, always pick up after your dog. This may sound obvious to some, but others think that out in nature dog waste will decompose on its own. The reality is dog waste can contain harmful bacteria that can disrupt local wildlife and drain off into water supplies. Not to mention that stepping in dog poo on your hike is never fun.
Second, adhere to your dog’s pace and needs. Dogs can’t sweat like humans can, so they have a tendency to overheat faster than we do. Be sure to take lots of breaks and give your dog plenty of water and food along the way. Also, be sure not to let your dog eat anything along the trail or on the ground, it’s also a good idea to keep them away from any standing water source. It’s important to keep a close eye on your dog and keep them on the trail at all times, this can prevent them from any harm and help minimize danger.
After Hike Care:
After a long hike or overnight trip, your dog may need a little extra care. Be sure to give your dog a day or two to recover after a long trip, don’t push them physically if they aren’t up for it there may be some sore spots or damage you can’t see. It is also important to check for ticks or fleas. Do a thorough check all over the body to see if there are any insects hiding out and be sure to take them to the vet if you do find anything for a follow-up.
Take note of how your dog did on your trip, did they seem overexerted? Do they new gear like a pack or some booties? Did they seem uncomfortable in their harness? All these things should be taken into consideration and addressed before your next hike. Hikes are a great way to keep your dog healthy and happy, but if issues arise and are not addressed, hikes can do more harm than good. Now get out there and have some on trail fun with your pooch!