One of the best parts of having a canine companion is sharing adventures together. Hiking with your dog is a great way to stay healthy and have fun! There are, however, some things you should keep in mind when you take your dog hiking.
Hike a Dog Friendly Trail
Not all trails are created equal. It’s important to respect the rules of each trail. Obey all rules to ensure that future hikers will be allowed to use the trail. Check www.bringfido.com or www.alltrails.com to see if the trail you are looking to hike allows dogs. Both of these websites rank the difficulty of the trails. Consider your dog's age and ability when selecting a trail. Be sure to review the trail map and difficulty before you go. Map out rest stops if you are going on a longer trail.
Keep Your Dog on a Leash
Even if your dog is well trained, it’s best for everyone (including them) if you keep them on a leash. Wildlife can be unpredictable and keeping your dog on a leash protects them as well as any other creatures you may come in contact with. Having your dog on a leash will also make other hikers feel more comfortable, knowing you have your pet under control.
Have Adequate Supplies for You and Your Pup
It’s always important to prepare for your dog’s needs as well as your own on the trail. Pack plenty of water for both of you. For dogs, a good rule is 0.5-1 oz of water per body weight per day. Bring food and snacks. If you are hungry or thirsty, your pup probably is too. Don’t forget to bring waste bags. Practice “leave no trace” ethics and keep the wildlife uninterrupted by cleaning up after your pooch. Bring a small first aid kit in case of minor injury. Consider taking a dog first aid class if you plan to hike or camp regularly.
Be Considerate of All People on the Trail
Not everyone likes dogs, even friendly ones. Be respectful of other hikers and make sure to keep your dog controlled when passing or near other people. This will ensure all hikers will enjoy their time outside. Watch out for other dogs on the trail, don’t assume all dogs are as friendly as yours.
Even if your dog is young and healthy, it’s best to start on small trails first. Work to build their trail etiquette, as well as stamina, before advancing to difficult hikes, overnight stays or multi-day hikes. This will help acclimate their body and paws to the terrain.
Flea and Tick Prevention
Hiking with your dog is a great way to spend time together outdoors. A really quick way to ruin those memories is to bring home a parasite. Make sure to protect your furry friend by installing a regular flea and tick prevention regimen. Talk with your vet to figure out a plan for your dog’s needs. Check your pet for signs of pests when you finish with your hike.
Don’t Leave Your Dog Behind
Make sure to never leave your dog in a car at the trailhead. It can get hot quickly, even on mild weather days. If your dog needs a rest, stay with them, ensuring their health and safety. Better to head home early than risk injury or illness.
Take your time in preparing to hike with your dog. Ensure you have the proper gear for both of you before you set out on your hike. Following these guidelines will help you and your pup to enjoy your adventures in the great outdoors.