Hiking With Your Pet

 Do you know who would make the best hiking companion? Your dog! Hiking with your pet is both relaxing for you and them as well. Not to mention the exercise the both of you will get while out on the trail.  Exercising is just one of the benefits of hiking with your pet, but several more. 

Before you go you should check to see if you are allowed to take your pet with you. Hiking with your pet is great and rewarding but some trails don’t allow dogs. You can find information about most trails on Google or you can buy a trail guide.   

I brought up the topic of hiking with your pet in a previous post. Let’s talk about what equipment your four-legged friend may need, what the trip may look like, can your four-legged companion make the trek, and other tips for hiking with your pet.

How can I prepare my dog for hiking?

If you want to take your dog hiking, you need to get them ready for hiking. Let’s go over some ways you can do this.

Is your dog sepsiptible to weather changes? Can they handle the prolonged activity? Some dogs don’t handle these changes well. Dogs with small or short nasal openings like bulldogs and boxers might have difficulty breathing. This will be a problem or fatal for your hiking partner. 

Do you have an older dog or puppy? Again they may not handle the changes in weather as you walk the trail. Older dogs may have issues keeping up on long hikes due to their joints (old age) and puppies don’t have the stamina to keep up.

Before taking a long hike, take your dog on smaller hikes. I suggest starting with short walks on paved trails and sidewalks. As you go on more and more walks, try different terrain and elevation types. When you are hiking, the terrain is not always flat or smooth. Most of the terrain you encounter will be uneven and sometimes rough. All that walking will toughen your dog’s footpads, making it less painful to walk over rough terrain.  As time goes by, your dog’s stamina grows, allowing them to accompany you on longer hikes. Maybe you can take them camping if you decide to go. (That’s a post for a later date)

Make sure to keep your hiking companion under control. There will be other dogs, people, and wildlife on the trails when you go. Make sure that you keep them within eyesight and/or they can hear you. If they don’t come to you when you call them, you may need to retrain them. Not everyone loves dogs as much as you do. Make your dog sit with you off-trail as other hikers are approaching (That’s good hiking etiquette). Wild animals do live in the area and could pose a threat to your dog as well as your dog being a threat to them. This scenario may not end well for both parties. It is important to keep your dog under control.

And most importantly, leave no trace behind. If you don’t want to carry your dog’s waste out with you, take a small shovel and bury it. This method works best in my opinion especially if you’re on a long hike or camping.

Hiking Essentials For Dogs

  Just like you, your dog will need a few things for the trip. You can find hiking essentials for dogs at your local pet store, online, and stores that sell outdoor recreation equipment. Here is a list of a few essentials you should take when hiking with your pet:

  • Food and or treats- Food is vital for energy levels. 
  • Water Bottle and/or a collapsible bowl- You don’t want them drinking from stagnant water sources. Collapsible water bowls are compact and easy to carry. Smart water bottles work best because they are light and the quantity is just right. 
  • Pet safe insect repellant- Insects are pests to everyone including your pet. Mosquitos and ticks can carry diseases that are fatal to your best friend. You must protect them as well as yourself. 
  • Waste bags- Leave no trace behind of you or your pet there. Pick up their waste and take it out with you. 
  • Rain Jacket- The weather can be unpredictable and very harsh at times. A Rain jacket will help keep your friend and your vehicle dry.
  • Towel- If you’re not feeling the rain jacket, a towel will do. 
  • Extra leash- Just in case your primary leash breaks.
  •  Boots or shoes- Sometimes the terrain is rough and your dog’s paws may get injured. The boots/or shoes will prevent some injuries but not all. Be mindful of where you and where your dog is stepping.

The most common dangers to dogs while hiking

I touched on this subject earlier but let’s talk about other common dangers to dogs while hiking.

Bugs are the worst. Ticks and mosquitos are by far the ones to watch out for the most. They carry all kinds of potential diseases and illnesses that can make your friend sick.

Animals like coyotes, bears, wolves, and other predatory animals may be around.

Injuries may happen. It would be best to have a doggie first aid kit handy. 

Snakes. A potential snake bite could be fatal for your friend. Be careful.

Plants: Several plants could be a danger to your dog. Always keep them within eyesight.

Cliffs and holes are everywhere when you are hiking. Falling off of a cliff or into a hole could cause serious injury or even death.  Be mindful of your surroundings when out in the wild.

Hiking can be both fun for you and your pet, but there are hidden dangers all around you. Keep your head on a swivel and stay alert. Have your trail selected before you go out. Do your research on the trail you have chosen to hike. Make sure the trail has a good rating for pets and can be easily traversed by them. Check the weather forecast and plan accordingly. Be sure to have water and a first aid kit. The key is to plan and have fun on your adventure.

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