Do you like to hike? Hiking is a great way to exercise and a wonderful way to enjoy the nature that is surrounding us! It’s simply beautiful out there. It makes perfect sense to want to bring your dog along on your hiking adventures. You know how much you love experiencing all of the sights and sounds around you, so just imagine your sweet pup experiencing that as well.
Before you hit the trail with your dog though, you need to be sure that you are ready. Just like you need to be sure that you are prepared for a hike, you need to make sure that you prepare for your dog to get out there too. You need to be sure that you have all of the right supplies and equipment for a safe and successful hike.
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Tips for hiking with your dog
Dogs are the best kind of companion on every given day, but they are an exceptionally wonderful outdoor companion. They are always willing and excited to head out on the trail with you. The health benefits that you both experience from these adventures are an added bonus.
There are several considerations that you need to think about before you head out though in order to have the best trip you can.
Train your dog
Do not. I repeat, DO NOT head out on the trail with an untrained dog. I understand that you can’t train them for the trail before you hit the trail, but at least be sure that they know basic commands such as “sit” and “stay” before you head out.
A few other training commands to work on are “leave it” to prevent dogs from eating or messing with anything hazardous that you may find on trail and “quiet” to prevent excess barking.
While most places do have leash laws, your dog should still have a strong recall and “come” whenever you call. This is very important in case your dog manages to get away from you. It is even more important if you are letting your dog run around without a leash.
Know the hiking etiquette when hiking with your dog
There are etiquette rules when it comes to hitting the trail with dogs, and these rules are very important. Check out this to-do list of etiquette rules to follow when taking your dog out hiking:
- Make sure the trail you are going on allows dogs. Not all trails are dog friendly and that’s okay. If dogs aren’t allowed on the trail, there is a good reason for it, oftentimes for your dog’s safety. You may find that you need to leave your pup home for this hike, or change your destination.
- Keep your dog on a leash. While some trails are technically leash optional, keeping your dog leashed is always a good idea. You never know when you might encounter wildlife that your dog can’t help but chase and it’s important to avoid doing any damage to the habitat off trail (which can happen from your dog simply stepping off trail).
- Clean up your pet’s waste. You may think that wildlife does its business outdoors, why can’t your dog, but I assure you, you need to be prepared to clean up your dog’s waste on the trail. Be sure to bring pet waste bags with you when you go. Dog waste can bring disease and pollution to the trail and this is a very important part of being a responsible pet owner and hiker. And if it’s a popular trail, other people may not appreciate having to watch where they step.
- Be sure that you can always see your dog. You don’t want them getting lost or falling down somewhere.
Make sure your dog is healthy enough for a hike
You should already be making sure to take your dog to regular visits with the vet, but making sure your dog is healthy enough to hike is key for a good experience. While getting a health check up, be sure to ask if your dog’s breed is a good one for hiking long trails (not all of them are). Also, be sure to talk to the vet about the best options for flea and tick prevention.
Also, like people, dogs need to ease into exercise. Your dog won’t tell you if they are injured or tired so you should be mindful when hiking. The last thing you want is to have to try and carry your large dog back home because they overexerted themselves (we speak from experience).
Bring the necessary equipment
You may think that you can just head on out and hike, but the reality is that yes, there is equipment needed when hiking with your dog.
Understand that it won’t always go perfectly
When you first start hiking with your dog, things likely will not go perfectly smoothly. Just like with any other activity you decide to take on with your pet, it’s going to require a learning curve. I have no doubt that it will be a success, but you just have to put some time and effort into it.
Also, there are a few more things to remember while you are out there:
- Not everyone on the trail likes dogs or likes to see dogs on the trail, so don’t force interaction.
- Not all dogs on the trail are friendly. Be sure to keep your dog from running up to others.
- There are lots of things on the trail that can get lost in your dog’s coat. Consider bathing them when you get back home to remove it all. And be sure to check for ticks.
Happy hiking, friends!