There’s nobody better to take out on the hiking trails than your four-legged friend, but making sure you do it the right way is essential.
Dogs love to get outdoors more than anyone but there are things you have to consider before you bring them along on your next hike.
Heading into the outdoors with your pooch comes with its own list of considerations and requirements, and as usual, planning is the key to success.
If you want to take your dog with you on your next hike, we’ve got some tips to make it more comfortable, easy, and safer for everyone involved, so that they never have to miss a walk in the wilderness again.
#10: Choose a Dog-Friendly Trail
Never attempt to hike on a trail that doesn’t permit dogs, as there’s usually a good reason why this rule has been put in place.
There are websites and apps available that show you local dog-friendly hiking trails so you don’t have to guess which ones are suitable, so make sure to do your research before you plan a hike and take the time to learn the local laws.
#9: Fit Them With a Harness
A standard lead is not going to be enough when you’re hiking and you’ll have to rely on something more secure like a harness.
This will give you adequate control of them in case you come across any wildlife or other pets and you need to keep them close on a narrow trail.
A harness can also be fitted with a pack so they can carry their own snacks, water, and even a first aid kit.
The lead should be no longer than six feet in order to keep them close by.
#8: Hydration For Both of You
Hydration is essential on a hike and your dog will require a lot more water than usual during this activity so you need to pack enough.
Depending on the difficulty of the trail and what the weather conditions are, you’ll want to take a water break every 20 to 30 minutes.
A dog water bottle is a great way to keep them hydrated and if they’re wearing their own harness or pack you can easily attach it there.
#7: Give Them a Health Check
Don’t just assume that your dog will be healthy enough to take on a hike if they’re not used to doing them usually.
It’s a good idea to have a vet give them a once over and okay them for hiking, especially if it’s out of their usual activity level.
Some breeds are better equipped to be hikers than others, so if you have a smaller dog it’s probably best to leave them at home.
#6: First Aid Matters
All savvy hikers never leave home without their first aid kit, and your dog should have their very own kit as well.
In a dog first aid kit you’ll want many of the same contents as yours, including tweezers, antiseptic, pet-friendly liquid bandage, and even a muzzle.
When a pet is hurt they can become violent, even if they’re normally placid, so you don’t want to risk any further injury.
#5: Prevention is Key
There are many added dangers in the outdoors that you need to prepare your dog for, but prevention can help keep all of them at bay.
Consider things like applying dog-friendly sunscreen, treating them for ticks and fleas at least 48 hours before you head off, and get the recommended vaccinations for parasites and other diseases that might pose a threat.
Your dog isn’t able to control any of these things so it’s important for you as their owner to take charge.
#4: Food and Snacks
Depending on the length of your hike, you’ll need to be prepared with the right nutrition for your dog.
Usually, a few treats are all they’ll need if you’re not going to be gone all day, but it’s a good idea to bring some spares just in case.
Choose something that’s easy for them to eat and won’t fill them up too much, otherwise, they’ll struggle to continue on with the hike.
#3: Know the Trail Etiquette
Being a good hiker is all about having good manners and the same goes for your dog as well.
Only ever take a trained dog hiking and make sure they’re okay with strangers and other dogs approaching them.
Be prepared to share the trails with others and keep to your side of the path, never letting your dog off their leash even if you think the area looks secluded.
#2: Leave No Trace
One of the most honored rules of camping and hiking in the US is to leave no trace behind, and this should be followed at all times when hiking with your dog.
Leave no trace means exactly that, and it’s our responsibility to leave the trails and parklands exactly as we found them.
Clean up after your dog’s mess, don’t let them destroy any wildlife, and always take their waste with you whenever they use the bathroom in the great outdoors.
#1: Post Hike Checkup
Once you’re both home safe and sound, you’ll still need to give them a once over to make sure everything is okay.
Being in the outdoors leaves your dog susceptible to a number of things they don’t face at home so you want to give them a complete check.
Look for things like ticks, foxtails, and any other foreign objects that might have gotten stuck to their fur, in their paws, or into their skin.
To give them some extra TLC, you could give them a warm bath to soothe their muscles and feed them a generous dinner to make up for the energy spent.