For as long as I have had dogs of my own, I have taken them hiking. They are naturals with their love for walks, the outdoors, and all of the wonderful sniffs that nature has to offer! But what advice would I share with those who are new to this activity?
Here’s a list of my top hiking tips for dog owners
What to Bring
You will want to make sure you are prepared with the basics such as water and snacks but what exactly will you need? Here’s a list for you and your pup:
- For the Dogs: water, bowl, treats, collar with current ID, leash (and harness if needed), and poop bags. More advanced hikers might want a GPS dog collar. If you live in a warm climate with little tree cover, you will also want to consider dog booties.
- For the People: water, snacks (fruit, nuts, trail mix), phone with compass/GPS, first aid kit, sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, backpack for carrying everything, tissues, and Benadryl (you never know!)
How to Prepare
Before you start climbing strenuous trails, you should consider your dog’s activity level and work up to the big event. Start by taking regular on-leash walks around your neighborhood, working up to longer distances. You will also want to include some hills and unpaved surfaces to challenge your fitness level and make sure you are ready for the hills or mountains a hike may bring.
Be sure to also consult your vet to make sure your pet is in good health and to make sure your dog is all set with vaccines and flea/tick preventative measures.
How to Choose Your Hike
To find the right hike for you and your furry friend you will need to do your research and consider how much elevation you want to cover. Will it be a rock surface? How easy or hard is the hike? And, most importantly, are dogs allowed and what are the rules for dogs on the trail?
What to Do On the Hike
To ensure you have a fun and successful outing, be sure to stop regularly for water and treat breaks. Also, it’s important to keep your dog on a leash and steer clear of critters. You will also want to avoid hunting areas and poison ivy, oak and sumac.
What Not to Do on the Hike
There are parasites and other health risks that could lurk in water sources so neither you or your dog should drink from them. You will also want to avoid going on the trail on the hottest or coldest part of the day, so be sure to check the weather. This, along with keeping a slow pace will help keep everyone from overexerting. Keep a watchful eye out for signs of heat stroke and don’t leave your dog unsupervised in the car for any reason. Read more about heat stroke in dogs here.
If you follow all these tips, you are sure to enjoy many fun bonding experiences in the great outdoors with your dog. From someone who hikes a few times a month with her furry friend, I can tell you firsthand that hiking is one of the best ways to create special bonds with your pet. Now, get out there and take a hike!
By Canine Journal Founder Michelle Schenker
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