Dog hiking is popular, for example in the U.S. over 60 million households have one or more pets although obviously they all do not go on hikes.
Dogs are a member of the family too and they love walking and hiking with you.
7 Important Things to Consider When Dog Hiking
Your Dogs First Hike – Like anyone else some types are better suited to dog hiking along the trail than others. Ask yourself can the dog handle the hike you are planning; the terrain, estimated distance and pace. Start by taking your dog on long walks in local parks and keep increasing the distance until you feel they are ready for the hike. Many dogs are overweight and can take a bit of conditioning to get in shape.
Keep Your Dog Under Control – Your dog needs to be trained; no barking or jumping on other hikers, mountain bikers or horses you may meet along the trail. They must be able to respond to your voice commands if you see some wildlife or even a squirrel. Depending on the hiking trail and dog you may need to keep your dog leashed.
Your Dogs Safety – Take your dog to a vet for a physical and make sure their rabies inoculation is current. Also ensure they are wearing their ID tag on their collar during the hike. Some people have a microchip inserted by the vet so their dog can be found very easily. A great option is to have your dog wear a brightly colored garment so that you can easily spot them in the woods.
Pick Up After Your Dog – Bring lots of plastic bags and keep the hiking trail clean by scooping up while dog hiking.
Hydration – Be sure to carry lots of water, and water your dog often as they are much more susceptible to heat exhaustion than we are. Dogs do not have sweat glands and pant to disperse body heat. If your dog is panting unusually rapidly or has a bright red tongue they may be suffering from heat exhaustion. Do not permit your dog to drink from streams or lakes along the trail as the water may contain microscopic contaminants. Also if dog hiking in cold weather be sure they wear a coat. One option is to take a dog water bottle in your pack.
Along the Hiking Trail – Before dog hiking make sure as part of your conditioning you toughen up the paws. The pads of your dog’s foot can get sore or bleed if not used to hiking. Also have any awareness of dangerous wildlife and plants along the trail. Animals such as coyotes have been known to bait and ambush loose dogs and you do not want your dog chasing a bear either. Respect any “no dogs allowed” signs you see along the hiking trail.
Take a Toy – Bring along a familiar toy or ball. Some dogs like the new scents and sights they discover along the trail while others may be nervous. You can comfort your dog by packing their favourite plaything. Packs are available for dogs so they can participate including the Outward Hound Dog Backpack.
First Aid – Take a first aid kit and be familiar with its use for cuts and any other emergencies that may come up while dog hiking.
By following these 7 tips for dog hiking you both should have a fun filled walk outdoors.