Dogs enjoy walking. So your dog will probably love to go hiking with you, but if you’re going to bring your canine friend on the trail, be sure you are well prepared for it.
Hiking with your dog is fun, but it is also different from hiking with just other people. So, to help keep it safe and enjoyable for you and your four-legged friend, take a look at the following tips:
1. Prepare your dog for the trip
Just as you wouldn’t expect yourself to finish a challenging trail without first conditioning your body, your dog will not be able to last a difficult hike without you training him for it first. Weeks before the scheduled hike, take him out for longer walks around the neighborhood. As the day of the hike nears, try walking him uphill or anywhere with some decent elevation. Also, get a health certificate from your vet to make sure that your dog is truly up for the hike.
2. Take plenty of water
Dogs cannot cool off by sweating, so be sure that they are properly hydrated. If you are going to bring a liter of water for yourself, bring about the same amount for your dog. Then again, different breeds also have different hydration requirements. For example, a Siberian husky has a double layer of fur, so you may need to bring more water for him. Also, black coats absorb more heat and sunlight than do white or tan coats. So if you have a black-coated dog, keep in mind that he may have greater hydration needs.
3. Bring a leash
Real dog-lovers would rather have their dogs free to run in the wild, but that could pose safety issues for you, for other hikers, and for other creatures. Dogs are, by nature, predatory and they will most likely run after every little critter that they catch sight of. Other hikers, as well, may not like having somebody else’s furry friend jump up on them on the hiking trail. It is a form of courtesy to have your dog on a leash. Bring one that is retractable so it won’t tangle up when packed.
4. Other items to consider
Hiking gear for your dog is important, particularly a hat that can protect his face from the heat. Your child’s old hat can do the trick. You might also want to bring doggie sunscreen as well as dog boots if you’re planning to take on more rugged terrain. A doggie first aid kit, along with your own first aid kit, is also essential. This kit should include a pair of tweezers for pulling out thorns, a razor for shaving fur away from wounds, socks for injured paws, and some adhesive tape.
5. Forget about your hiking goals
Plan several rest sessions. Your dog will tire easily under the heat of the sun, even if he is well conditioned for the hike. Also, unlike children who can whine and cry to indicate that they are tired, dogs have few ways to communicate with you that they need to take a break other than desperately panting with their tongues wagging out. So, for the safety of your dog, stop often and take rests.
Hopefully you’ll find these “dog hiking” tips helpful. Now it’s time to hit the trail with your furry friend!
About the author
Nicole is an avid hiker and camper. She also writes about her experiences for hiking state park site NDParks.com and Eco and Green Living Blog The Action Blog. Check out her latest article family camping tents.