Hiking is a fun way to connect with nature, and it is best done along with your four-legged playmate. Just make sure the trail is pet-friendly.
Though your dog loves you unconditionally and follows you wherever you go, it is your responsibility to make sure he enjoys the hike as much as you do.
Here are a few tips that every dog parent must know before hiking with their Fido.
- Physical Checkup
Know if your dog’s physical condition allows it to hike.
While you can check your pup’s temperature and hydration levels at the comfort of your home, taking him to a vet is essential before strenuous activities like hiking.
Taking a young pup on long hikes isn’t advisable as their little paws may not be able to walk so much.
If you have an older dog, a vet can prescribe some supplements to reduce the pain in its joints.
In the case of short-nosed breeds, the nasal passage can be too constricted to let air in, at high altitudes. You can choose your locations based on it.
- Bring A First-Aid Kit
If you’re an experienced hiker, chances are you already know the importance of carrying an organized first-aid kit.
Injuries in the wilderness are sometimes unavoidable both for humans and animals. So, a separate first-aid kit for your doggo is a must.
Carry a bottle of blood clotting powder, bandages, gauze rolls, and wound disinfectant to deal with skin cuts.
Poisonous plants are everywhere and sadly, dogs cannot detect all of them. It is safe to bring an antidote that can absorb toxins.
- Obedience Training
Talk to pet trainers. Buy books on the topic. Learn from other dog owners. Enroll your dog in a training class.
Obedience training is not as hard as it sounds. It only demands patience, time, and consistency.
By the time you hit the trail, your dog should be able to respond with an appropriate action when he hears your command. His recall ability must be reliable.
Hiking with an untrained dog is dangerous because canines get pretty excited in new locations and go out of control. (1)
- Stick To Leash Rules
Go through the leash laws of your trail weeks before your hike. Thanks to the internet, you can learn the rules in a few minutes.
You may trust your dog because he is a good boy. But that’s not the case with everybody else on the trail. As a fellow hiker, you must not make it problematic to them.
Let your dog enjoy the new place. Take him where he wants to go and play with him. But no matter what, keep him on the leash.
- Dress Well
Dress up your dog according to the weather and terrain. If it’s going to be cold, consider getting him an adorable jacket. Pack a spare jacket for him in your backpack.
His tiny paws need to be protected too. Buy a nice pair of dog boots and let him get accustomed to them. You can’t surprise him with new boots on the hiking day and expect him to sprint right away. Give him time to practice and get comfy.
If he’s not feeling good in the boots, using a paw balm is a good alternative.
Do not forget to attach an ID to your dog’s leash because separation takes only seconds.
- Doggo’s Backpack
If you wanna take your dog on a hike, why not dress him up as a hiker?
You can pack a small water bottle, collapsible bowls, and some treats in a dog’s backpack and let him carry it.
Look for backpacks made of breathable and water-resistant material. Training your dog to carry a backpack can take time. So, advance prep is required.
If your dog doesn’t seem to like it, you can’t force it. Be a loving parent and pack the gear for both of you in your backpack.
Res Marty’s Guide will help you choose the best backpack for your adventures.
- Leave No Trace
Leave No Trace is a set of outdoor ethics to conserve the ecosystem. Well, dogs can’t read or understand principles.
From picking up after your dog to stopping him from disturbing wildlife, you gotta do it all.
Dog poop contains harmful microorganisms and is carried away into the nearby water sources if left on the trail.
For shorter hikes, you can make your dog poop before starting. This way, he probably won’t have to do it until your return.
However, there’s no harm in stacking a couple of poop bags in your backpack. We never know!
- Safety Around Water Sources
If your chosen trail doesn’t have a water source, move on. This tip isn’t for you. You only have to pack plenty of water to prevent dehydration.
But hiking through a trail with beautiful streams and lakes, your buddy will love the fresh air and flowing water. You should make sure he doesn’t get way too enthusiastic and jump in the water for a swim.
Your dog may be a good swimmer who slays it in your home’s pool. But in the woods, water sources are usually contaminated with pathogens like blue-green algae. Plus, there are other forms of danger like rip currents and temperature fluctuations.
- Feed Healthy Treats
Hiking is not a competition. The difference between a pleasant and a tiresome journey is the quality of the breaks in between.
Munch on a snack and stay hydrated throughout the hike by taking frequent breaks. I said ‘frequent’ because your pet needs to rest before hitting exhaustion.
Feed him only healthy treats to ensure he doesn’t fall sick. Avoid treats with chemicals and additives. Gluten-free and grain-free treats are great for your dog’s gut health.
Bonus points if you feed him only homemade treats.
Caution: Don’t leave treats out in the open unless you’re looking for unwanted guests (insects and animals) from the woods. (2)
- Keep An Eye On Ticks
Ticks suck out your dog’s blood leaving him anemic. Other common diseases caused by ticks are babesiosis, hepatozoonosis, anaplasmosis, and Lyme disease.
You can use tick sprays, powders, and tick-prevention medication as the first line of defense.
Still, some ticks may find their way onto your dog’s skin. Always check for ticks on your dog at the end of your hike. This ensures he doesn’t bring them home.
Bathe your pet with medicated shampoo and warm water after coming home. If you notice any infection, go to the pet clinic immediately.
I hope you find these tips helpful. If you have any other tips about hiking with dogs, share them with us in the comments section.
Res Marty, is a 26-year-old world traveler currently living in beautiful Lucerne, Switzerland. He is also passionate about hiking and camping. He introduces us to some of the best trails in the world through his self-titled website – https://resmarty.com. Additionally, he provides valuable product reviews for all kinds of hiking equipment.