If you’re a dog owner with a passion for hiking, there’s a good chance you want to combine two of your greatest loves in life and bring them along the trails. While it’s perfectly fine to do so in most areas, there are things you need to know about dog hiking that will keep you both safe and comfortable during the journey.
From the right dog hiking gear to knowing where you and your four-legged friend can venture on dog-friendly hiking trails, you’ll need to be informed. Just like learning about the rules of hiking when you started your hobby, your dog will need to be catered for as well.
Dog hiking is serious business, and just as you would need to be physically fit to go on a trail, so does your dog. Have them checked out before you start hiking and let the vet know your plans. It’s not something you’ll need to do every time you head out, but an annual checkup should be enough to clear them for hiking.
Each state and area will have regulations and laws about what’s required of your dog. The types of lead and where and when they should wear them need to be adhered by. This isn’t just for the safety of others, but for your dog as well.
Taking your dog hiking with a regular dog leash isn’t acceptable and won’t prepare either of you for the potential challenges you’ll face. Find a good harness with a dog hiking pack attached and make sure you’ve packed it correctly and evenly. You can fit their water, snacks, and anything else they need so there’s less for you to carry.
Dogs don’t sweat, and so they do their perspiring through their mouths. This means they need a whole lot of water to stay hydrated at the best of times, let alone on a strenuous hike.
Bring adequate water supplies for you and your dog and take regular breaks to allow them to quench their thirst. When it’s really hot out, don’t take the risk of dragging your dog along in the heat.
You might think being in nature means your dog can have free reign over where they do their business, but it’s not so. Bring along dog bags to pick up their poop and don’t leave this problem to anyone else. You wouldn't want to step in someone else’s dog’s poop so don’t expect others to feel the same.
Not all hiking trails welcome dogs, but thankfully there are many apps and websites that can point you in the right direction. For dog-friendly hiking trails, a quick Google search in your location will show you the best ones and hopefully give you some reviews from those who have been before you.
Safety is essential when hiking, and especially when you’re taking your dog long. There are hazards to consider like local wildlife, weather conditions, fire warnings, other animals and people, and more. Know your plan and be protected with a harness that has a handle for control in case you come across a serious situation.
Spend some time reading up about trail etiquette before you take your dog on a hike. There are many things that are unspoken of in the dog hiking community, but you can find them all out online. Being respectful of others matters, especially when sharing hiking trails.
When you’re hiking you don’t exactly what to sit down for a three-course meal but you need some sustenance. Your dog is the same, so pack light foods that will give them energy without overfeeding them. There are plenty of dog snacks on the market that would be perfect to take along hiking, and you can put them in their pack for easy access.
Dogs are clever creatures, and they can tell you a lot without words. Watch your dog throughout the hike to look for signs of danger, illness, dehydration or tiredness and respect what they are trying to tell you.