Tips For Hiking With A Dog
Dogs are the perfect trail companion. They’re the most enthusiastic and loyal hiking partner you could ask for. But, if you’ve never taken your dog hiking before, there are a few things you need to know before you set off. In this article, we’ve found 10 great tips for hiking with your dog. So put on your hiking shoes and hot the road.
1. Make Sure Your Dog Is Capable of Hiking
Before you even consider setting off on your hike, you need to make sure your dog is capable. There are all sorts of things to consider. Firstly, how far is the hike and how difficult is the terrain? Then, what type of dog do you have? Some dogs – like German Pointers and Weimaraners – are built for hiking. Most dogs are capable of hiking, but some – like Bassets and Bulldogs – are completely unsuited. It should be pretty obvious by looking at your dog if they’re capable because they need to be lean, strong, and have long enough legs to keep up. The last thing to consider is your dog’s health. It could even be worth taking them to the vets to get a check-up before you set out.
2. Research Your Trail Route
The next job is to research your trail route, just like you would before you set out. Think about it in the same way that you would if you had small children. Find out all the potential dangers on the route – like animals, cliffs, poisonous plants, and anything else that could bring harm to your furry sidekick. Another thing that is often overlooked is the quality of the ground on the trail. If it’s rough and sharp, it could damage your dog’s paws.
3. Prepare Your Dog for The Hike
There are all sorts of things you can do to prepare your dog for the hike. This tip is really for those of you planning to take your dogs on a long multi-day hike. If that’s the case, it’s a good idea to take your dog on regular short hikes. There are a few advantages to this. First, it will toughen up their paws for longer hikes, so they don’t need to wear dog booties (more on them later). Secondly, it will give your dog some hiking experience. They’ll be less likely to run off on their own, they’ll get used to carrying a dog pack if you have one, and you can see how they act on a hike.
4. Know the Rules of The Trail
There’s a lot of unspoken etiquette between hikers. If you’re not a regular, you should make sure you understand the rules of the trail before you set off, especially if you’ve got a dog. Here are a few key rules to follow:
- Have control of your dog at all time.
- Give other hikers and riders space.
- Make sure other hikers know your dog is friendly.
- Don’t take more than one dog.
- Pick Up the Poop
- Consider the Wildlife
5. Pick Up the Poop
Every dog owner should pick up their dog’s poop. It doesn’t matter whether it’s on the sidewalk or in the woods, it’s equally important. Just because you’re out in the wilderness, doesn’t mean you should let your dog poop anywhere. The reason is that your dog isn’t part of the local wildlife environment. Their poop can disrupt the local animal’s ability to communicate via scent, which can cause major distress. Take extra bags with you and double bag it to avoid it leaking. If you’re camping and you don’t want to carry it with you, take a shovel and bury it eight inches deep and well off the trail.
6. Know About the Dangers
We already talked about researching the trail. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or not, knowing about dangers on a hike is very important. Check on the internet about the local animals, insects, poisonous plants, weather patterns, and anything else that could bring harm to you and your dog. This means you can prepare by bringing antihistamines, bandages, and other things to help in case of an emergency.
7. Get Your Dog a Backpack
Fortunately, you don’t need to carry all the extra supplies that you need for your dog, they can carry it themselves. You can now buy dog packs that sit over your dog’s back. Don’t worry, you’re not turning your best friend into a pack horse. They’re actually comfortable for the dog as long as you balance them well. Try and spread the weight evenly over both sides and make sure they’re not carrying more than a third of their body weight.
8. Plan Food and Water
Now that you’re taking your dog with you, you need to plan for their food and water as well. In addition to what your dog would normally eat, you should bring a little bit extra. Think about it, they’re exercising all day just like you, so they need extra sustenance as well. It’s also important to regularly check to see if they’re hungry or thirsty. Dogs aren’t nature’s biggest complainers, so they are likely to try and keep up with you even if they need food or water.
9. Invest in A Great Dog Lead
It doesn’t matter if your dog is well-trained enough to walk calmly at your side, you still need to take a dog lead with you. You might never need to use it, but it’s important to have in case of emergencies. Invest in a dog lead that is comfortable for your dog and is easy to put on quickly. Some dog owners prefer harnesses because it takes the pressure away from the dog’s neck if they pull.
10. Consider getting them microchipped
We’d definitely recommend getting your dog microchipped if you’re taking them on a multi-day hike. If for any reason, they get lost, you always have a way of getting them back. It’s a painless procedure and has no effect on your dog’s behavior. Plus, it’s actually a lot cheaper than most people think. The average cost is just $45.