How To Hike With Your Dog?
Summer’s here, and we all know what that means. More outdoor adventures and fun in the sun! And what better way to spend time with your dog than going on a hike to enjoy the gorgeous weather and lush forests?
If you’re an avid hiker, you’d know how to prepare for a hike on your own. However, throw your beloved pooch in the mix, and the gear you’ll need completely changes. It isn’t just about grabbing a collar and leash either.
You’ll have to plan food, water, and safety gear for the both of you. Fret not. Hiking with your pooch is a lot of fun, with loads of health benefits for you both.
With some tweaks in what you include in your daypack and some extra effort, you can keep both yourself and your pooch safe, healthy, and fit this summer!
Hiking With Dogs in Europe
Firstly, you obviously can’t bring a couch potato onto a 5-hour hike up a steep incline! Is your dog an active, fit pooch? Or does he spend his days lazing around and sleeping, with a ½ hour stroll a day?
Not all dogs can manage challenging trails, which will be a stressor for the both of you during the hike if you pick something inappropriate for your dog’s fitness level.
The summer heat, inclement weather, and altitude gain can all make things way more difficult for both of you.
If your dog is a small one, think about carrying a doggy backpack or carrier, just in case you need to hike a tired dog out of the forest. It wouldn’t be very fun if you had to carry your pooch in your arms for miles out of the trail!
Read more: 9 Best Outdoor Activities That Dogs Love
Preparing For Your Hike - Best Tips
There are a few things you can do to make sure your hike goes off smoothly when hiking with your dog.
If you’re game for a 5-hour strenuous hike uphill, make sure your pooch is in the physical condition to enjoy it as well instead of struggling for most of it. The ideal hike for a canine athlete like the Siberian Husky or Australian Shepherd would probably wipe a French Bulldog or Pug out.
After all, many dogs spend all day lounging around the house and chewing on their favorite bone. But don't worry! There are plenty of ways to get your pup in shape. Here are a few of our favorite exercises:
Go for a run
This is probably the easiest way to get some exercise for both you and your dog. Just put on your sneakers and head out the door. Your dog will probably be more than happy to follow along. We have gathered 8 best natural relaxation excercises for dogs!
This is a great way to get your dog's heart rate up and help them burn off some energy. And, if you're feeling competitive, you can always try to beat them to the ball!
Go for a swim
Swimming is a great workout for dogs of all shapes and sizes. If you don't have a pool of your own, many parks and beaches offer designated areas where dogs can cool off and splash around.
Go on smaller hikes
Instead of going from zero to hero, try going on shorter hikes with your dog to work up to a half-day or full-day hike. For example, an hour’s hike three times a week and then a two-hour hike a few times a week would better prepare your pooch for an intense day.
Most trails require your dog to be on a leash, which is a good thing! Offleash dogs can terrorize wildlife, hurt themselves, and get into all kinds of trouble, especially with larger animals.
You’ll have to pay attention to the trail you’ve chosen and follow any leash laws. Your dog also should be solid in some basic obedience commands like “leave it”, “slow down”, or “stay”.
If you are intending to have your dog hike off-leash, make sure you are 100% certain of his recall reliability. He HAS to come when called and stay with you when asked to do so - no negotiations. You most certainly don’t want your dog chasing after a bear or worse, a mountain lion.
First, you’ll need a few extra things for your pooch. Poop bags, extra water, a bowl, and some doggy snacks are the barest minimum. Other things nice to have are a doggy first-aid kit, some dog booties, and paw protection wax, especially if your dog has soft feet.
Going on a road trip in the car? Read our 29 must-follow tips about how to transport a dog in the car!
It would certainly ease your load if your dog could carry their own stuff. That's where a doggy backpack comes in! Doggy backpacks are great for carrying all the essentials while hiking or camping, and they come in a variety of sizes to fit all different breeds.
Make sure you start real slow and allow your dog to first take a walk without the backpack loaded. Then, start to load smaller, light loads in. 5% of their body weight is a good place to start.
Young puppies and senior dogs should not be allowed to carry any load, while adult, healthy dogs can carry a maximum of 20% of their body weight, and that’s a lot!
A backpack has to be securely and comfortably fitted to bear weight. To fit a backpack, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- First, measure your dog from the base of their neck to the base of their tail. This will give you an idea of how long the backpack should be.
- Next, measure the circumference of your dog's chest. This will help you determine how much room there needs to be for their torso.
- Finally, take into account the width of your dog's shoulders. You'll want to make sure the straps are wide enough to distribute the weight evenly.
Once you have these measurements, you can start shopping for a backpack that will fit your pup perfectly. And don't forget to pack some treats for all those hikes - your dog will definitely thank you for it.
Read more: 7 Surprising Ways to Tell Your Dog Is Happy
Checking your dog’s nails thoroughly during the hike is crucial to proper paw care. If your dog has a severely injured paw, you’ll have to be prepared to carry your dog out, which isn’t going to be much fun for the both of you.
With some preventative care, you can minimize the risks of paw injuries and make sure you both can get out of the trail safely.
- Strengthen your dog’s paws
In addition to physical conditioning, also run and walk on rougher surfaces for your dog to build thicker skin on the paw pads.
Instead of walking on soft trails or grass, try walking on rough asphalt. Just be mindful of the heat and be sure that the surface is comfortable enough to walk on.
When your dog’s paw pads toughen up, the risk of nicks, cuts, and tears will be significantly decreased.
- Bring dog booties or paw wax
Both booties and paw wax provide an additional layer of protection from nicks and scrapes.
- Keep your dog’s nails short
Long nails can actually make it difficult for your dog to walk. That's because they put extra pressure on the pads of their feet, which can lead to soreness and even bruising. Additionally, long nails can also get caught on things and tear, which can be quite painful for your pup.
Read more: Dog Brain Games: 8x Fun Brain Games For Dogs
Encountering Wildlife On Your Hike
It IS the woods, and encountering wildlife is a thrilling, beautiful part of hiking. After all, we DO share the forests with many inhabitants.
That’s why having your dog 100% reliable on a recall is crucial if you are hiking off-leash. Your dog off chasing a bear or cougar can end in a very bad day.
More often than not, the wildlife you encounter will be small, like squirrels. Think about using a hiking harness instead of a collar, as your dog can damage his throat lunging after a smaller animal.
Try making noise when you hike, like talking to your dog or yourself, or stomping the ground every once in a while. Animals have far greater senses than us hoo-mans, and if they sense us coming, they might move, but if they don’t hear us, they might get spooked.
You really don’t want to surprise a mama bear!
Hiking with your dog can be a great way to bond with your furry friend while getting some exercise. But there are a few things you should keep in mind before hitting the trail. First, make sure your dog is well-behaved and won't be a disturbance to other hikers.
Second, pack plenty of water and snacks for both of you, as well as a first-aid kit in case of any mishaps.
But trust us, it's worth it when you reach the summit and can look back at the incredible view together.
Plus, your dog will be exhausted after all that hiking and will sleep like a log that night. So next time you're planning a hike, consider bringing along your four-legged friend for an unforgettable adventure.
ALSO READ: Ugly Truth About Wrong Backyard Dog Breeders
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