Summer is in full swing, and we’re hitting the trails. Hiking is a great way to get outside with your dog(s) while avoiding crowded areas. But, it requires a certain amount of preparation. That’s especially true with a dog along for the journey. Here are our pro-tips for venturing in the great outdoors with your pup in tow.
Prepare for the hike
If you’re new to hiking, spend time looking up trails in your area. Bring Fido is a great resource to start for owner-approved trails near you. Keep in mind that just because a trail has better views doesn’t mean it’ll be easy for your dog to find their footing.
Make sure that your dog is ready for hikes, as well. If they’re a working breed mix and in good health, they’re probably good to go. But you shouldn’t rush with dogs that are too young, too old, smaller, or brachycephalic, for example. If your dog has a physical condition that you think might slow them down on a hike, check with your vet to see if they’re ready. While you’re there, you can also ask about trail hazards that are unique to your area.
Train your dog for hiking
If your dog is a first-time hiker, start building up to it a few weeks in advance. Add distance to your normal routes over time so you know your dog can handle the whole trail. If you start seeing signs of your dog slowing down, you may need to push out the hiking date or rethink the idea.
While you’re pre-hiking, shake up your dog’s normal walking routine and walk them through new areas. You’ll be giving your dog exercise while showing them there’s more to the world than your usual routes. The new sights, smells, and sounds of a different neighborhood or walking trail will help prep them for the excitement of the trail.
If you decide to give your dog a pack to wear to carry some of their supplies, take some time to get them used to it. Introduce a pack to your dog slowly. Start with the sniff test. Then place it on them without fastening it to get them used to the feeling of it. Offer plenty of treats when they sit still without trying to shake it off. From there, try fastening the pack and slowly add weight to it as your dog adjusts to walking around with it. Practice both inside and while you’re out walking around the neighborhood.
On the hiking trail
The #1 rule for hiking is to be respectful. Practice the “Leave No Trace” rule to be considerate of other hikers as well as nature. Leave the trail as it is without taking anything (besides photos) or leaving behind any waste.
Are you planning on braving the wild with your pup? Share your adventures by tagging @embarkvet on Instagram with #CampEmbark