A great way to explore new places can be hiking. If you admire the beauty of nature and relish an adventurous vacation, then a pet-friendly trail is the best option for you. Our dogs deserve to go on adventures with us as they are our family. Hiking with dogs is always a great experience for both dogs and owners but it is necessary to make a few adjustments if you are bringing your furry friend with you.
With these 10 hiking with dogs tips, you can have a fun and safe hiking trip with your best friend. When you visit a new place, it is easy to witness the local attractions by following the crowd, but for a more authentic experience, plan before you go hiking with your dogs.
Now some of you might be wondering what would be your experience when you are traveling with your dogs. Over the years, we have found that hitting the trail is a great way to enjoy the outdoors, appreciate vistas that you cannot see from the car, and get a little exercise.
And, without hiking, the trip allows you to see only the local spots. While hiking with your dog especially makes you meet some fantastic people. That gives you a chance to exchange ideas with other hikers and seek their advice on more pet-friendly things that you and your dog can do in the area.
The wonderful thing about hiking is that everyone can do it. It is an option for people of all abilities, whether you start short or go for more advanced routes.
Tips For Hiking With Dogs
Here are the top 10 tips you should follow before hiking with your dogs
1. Look for the rules and regulations
Before you decide on where to go hiking, do some research. Check all the rules regarding taking a dog on the trail. After choosing your destination, make a few preparations for your safety. Whenever you use an online resource to locate pet-friendly hikes, always verify the rules. Policies regarding pets change frequently, so confirm where dogs can go and whether leashes are required. Many places have restricted dogs on the trails after several complaints. Therefore, if the regulations do not suit you, find another place to hike with your pet dog.
2. Make sure your Dog is Physically Fit
To evaluate how well your dog performs on a hike, you can start with long walks. That will build up its endurance. You can then take it for short hikes and then gradually add distance. If your dog is older or physically disabled, choose a suitable trail for better results and experience. If your dog is new to hiking, it is best to prepare it. Teach your dog not just to behave on a leash but also with other people and animals on the trail. Visit the vet before you take your dog out on the trail. Physical fitness, age size, and development are some factors that matter when making this decision. Also, make sure that your dog is up-to-date on shots, get it microchipped, and get any preventative medications that your dog may need.
3. Preparation according to Weather & Terrain
Reading reviews of any trails will help you prepare for the terrain. And forecast check will aid you to know the weather. When traveling, elevation, humidity, and sun strength will affect you and your dog. In Spring and summer hiking, the climate would be sunny. You may find a lot of bugs, so sunscreen and insect repellant are necessary things for you and your dogs. Breeds with short coats may appreciate an outer layer if you are hiking with dogs in wet or cold conditions. Dog boots might be necessary for the snow or rough terrain. Backpacking with dogs during the hunting season, you need to be extra conscious. Use a bright or reflective dog vest and bear bells to help keep your pup safe. You must also wear something bright to stand out from the natural environment. During hunting season, keep your dog on a leash to avoid your dog from confrontations with any hunting dogs.
4. Look for the Flora and Fauna
Many creatures and critters can harm your dog on the hiking trail. Discuss with the locals about the wildlife and plants. Your dogs can sense things before you. If they start barking, they could be a warning signal. Make yourself aware of different kinds of wildlife you could encounter and learn how to avoid confrontations. If you are in bear country, use bear bells and bear spray. In the area where bear sightings are possible, keep your dog in sight and alert.
Like humans, dogs are susceptible to plant-based toxins. And they can pass the poisonous oily substance to you on their fur. Take time to identify the toxic plants in the vicinity of hiking. Pay close attention to your surroundings all the time.
5. Bring Enough Necessities
You and your dog need enough food and water on a hike, so carry plenty of fresh, clean water. Dogs cannot sweat, so it is wise to keep them hydrated at all times. Never allow your dog to drink from streams or lakes because they contain parasites that cause severe gastrointestinal issues. Take treats to help with their energy level as they also need calories. Keep a close eye on your dog, and be sure they do not ingest anything hazardous like there are a lot of poisonous plants, fungi, and waterborne pathogens. You must take short breaks for water and treats, too. If an accident or injury happens, you would not have access to a vet right away. Carry supplies that are for any cuts, bruises, and abrasions. Add compression tape or booties to wrap injured paws and include an antihistamine after consulting your vet for a bite, sting, or allergic reaction.
6. Clean Up After Your Dog
Always follow this protocol when you are walking with your pet dogs, especially on hiking trails. While it not only keeps other hikers from stepping in it, dog excrement can disrupt groundwater supplies and natural habitats. Always keep a doggie bag with you to clean up. Not all, but most dog-friendly trails have a dog stool station.
Do not carry everything yourself. Prepare your dog to carry its backpack. Initially, train it with little weight and short walks. Adjust the pack contents and straps to balance the weight before starting the hike. Dogs can safely carry up to one-third of their weight, so do not overload them.
8. Id Tag and Clothes for your dog
Depending on the weather, dress your dog appropriately. Booties can come in handy for rocky terrain or cold weather. Dogs do not like to wear them, so try them on before you hit the trails. A cooling collar or bandana can be helpful when the weather gets hot. For colder weather, a dog jacket or sweater is enough.
Before you leave, make sure to attach the dog’s ID tag properly to its collar in case your dog gets lost. The tag should have your contact number and other relevant information. If you know you will be leaving the network zone, then be ready with a plan to find your lost dog in a cell phone dead zone.
9. Check Your Dog Thoroughly after Hiking
When you return from hiking, thoroughly check the skin and coat of your dog for burrs, cuts, fleas, and ticks. If you find any ticks, you must know how to remove them and consult the vet about the next steps. A bath is also a good idea to find ticks, cuts, and skin allergies.
10. Inform Someone about your trip
If due for any reason you were unable to get back and needed assistance, having a relative, friend, neighbor, or park ranger know where you are and when you expected to return is a big help. Provide relevant information on a simple notecard.
Carry a copy of the trail map and save the park phone number. You will be glad later if you end up lost on the way or if any mishappens. You can call the ranger for directions rather than spend a night outdoors. Take a mini portable battery too to recharge your phone.
When you and your dog are well prepared, you can enjoy exploring the world together. Adventure is fun, but you should be attentive at the same time as you are taking a friend with you who is dependent on you and trusts you blindly. Enjoy yourself and follow all the required rules and regulations for safety of you both.
Also Read: 13 Best Dog Breeds For First Time Owners