Hiking is certainly an exciting outdoor activity, but if you want your experience to be more memorable, you can take your pet dog with you on your next hiking adventure. You will be amazed and motivated with their energy and unfiltered enjoyment on the trail while admiring the breathtaking sceneries at the same time.
However, if you plan to take your four-legged friend with you, there are some important things you need to consider for the both of you to have a great time. If it’s your first time to take your pet dog on a hike, here are some tips you can follow to keep them safe, happy, and healthy.
Train Your Dog First
Before going on a major hike, it’s important to train your dog first with small hikes to increase their fitness and endurance. If you plan on having your dog carry a pack, you should also train him by increasing the distance and weight from your small hikes.
You can start training your pet on hikes that are shorter than an hour and just increase the distance once you’ve noticed that he’s getting used to it. This will also toughen your dog’s paw pads and develop stamina.
Also, it’s advisable to wait until your dog has received all his shots before you take him on a hike. Dog’s about five months may have already completed vaccines. This is important because your pets can pick up parasites and viruses shared by wild animals on the trail.
Find an Appropriate Trail for Dogs
When planning a hike, you should also make sure that dogs are allowed on the trails that you’ve chosen. Aside from that, you should also take note of the nearest veterinary clinic in that area, so that you will know where to go in case of an emergency. Finding an appropriate trail for dogs will ensure you that they are safe and away from injuries.
Keep Your Dog on a Leash
A lot of people love dogs, but not all because some are afraid of them. This is why you should keep your dog on a leash while hiking. Also, most dog-friendly trails require hikers to keep their dogs on a leash at least six feet or less in length.
There are also some trails with off-leash designated areas which are suitable for dogs that can respond to voice commands. But before you let your pet off-leash, you should be sure that he is trained and can respond to your voice command to avoid harming sensitive habitat, or get in the way of bikers and other wildlife.
Bring Enough Water and Food
Hiking requires a lot of food and water, and since you’re hiking with your dog, you have to make sure that you pack enough food and water for two.
Water is very important to dogs because they have fur coats and they are unable to sweat like humans, meaning, they are at a higher risk of overheating. You can bring a collapsible dish so you can pour some water for him every once in a while on your hike.
You can also bring some treats for your dog to keep his energy level high during a long hike. And if you’re on a strenuous hike, make sure that you give him a little bit more dinner. This will help him recover from the tired feeling, and as well as prevent sickness and injury. Dogs are just like humans; they need calories to stay energized.
Pick Up After Your Pet
A lot of trails have dog stool bag stations, however some don’t, therefore it’s important to be prepared and keep some bags with you when you go on a hike. If you will be disposing your dog’s waste, be respectful of the environment and throw them in a trash can, preferably those with a lid. If you’re camping, make sure to leave any pet waste at least 200 feet away from the campsite.
Observe and See If Your Dog is Fit for the Trail
Dogs have different abilities and sometimes it depends on their age as well. Very young dogs, and very old dogs will not be able to handle the same trail length or difficulty compared to other dogs. Therefore, it’s important to observe how your dog is doing on the trail and see his limits. Do not push him to exhaustion because this is very dangerous. You can also ask your vet for you to know how much is too much for your dog. If you notice that your dog is lying down and panting intensely while hiking, this might mean that they need to cool down, slow down, or they cannot really endure the intensity of the hike.
Bring a Pet First Aid Kit
First aid kits are important in any activity and just like humans, dogs need them too in case of emergencies. A pet first aid kit will help you with gashes, bites, sprains, or burns your dog might get. But after the hike, make sure that you take him to the vet, especially when he’s hurt or in pain.
Dog Clothing is Sometimes Necessary
If your dog is shorthaired or if he’s used to spending most of his time indoors, he might need to wear some clothes when you take him on a hike. Clothing will help him stand against wet and cold conditions on the trail. If you’re going on a cold or snowy trail, your pet could also use some dog booties. These are also useful on very hot sand and rocky trails.
Pay Attention for Anything that Your Dog Ingests
There are a lot of things dogs might eat while on the trail. Some of them are mushrooms, cattails, and pinecones. There are also some which can be very dangerous or even deadly for them. If you notice that your dog is chewing on something, try to figure what it is and if you think it’s dangerous, get a sample of it and show it to your vet. This is another reason why it’s important to keep your dog on a leash while hiking.
A Post-Hike Checkup is Important
After your enjoyable hike with your dog, it’s important to check his whole body if there are ticks, cuts, burrs and burns. When you find a tick, carefully remove it and place it in a bag to take to your vet. Another way to check your dog for any cuts or injuries is by giving him a post-hike doggie bath.
Making sure that you dog is safe and in a good condition will certainly give you an enjoyable and memorable hike together. With just proper planning and preparations, it can be a rewarding experience for the both of you. We hope these tips will help you in having a great time hiking with your dog.