One of the best ways you can enjoy outdoor adventures with your dog is to take a hike. This experience offers a lot of rewards to both dog and owner. Hiking with your dog is a great cardiovascular workout that helps to combat stress and anxiety.
However, some things can can go wrong if you don’t prepare well before going hiking with your Fido. Remember, you’re not only responsible for yourself but also for your pet.
So, what would you do if your furry companion gets hurt along the trail or get a heat stroke? That’s just one thing out of many to put into considerations.
You don’t have to worry, we’ve put together important tips to know to enjoy a comfortably successful hike with your Fido.
But before we start talking about these tips, here are some common pitfalls when hiking with dogs:
- Forget a portable water bowl
- Not bringing enough water
- Leaving your dog unattended
- Forget to bring a leach or harness
- Leave your dog’s poop in
Although most of these pitfalls are common sense, we are all humans and we might forget things. That’s why we are bringing it up to you so you keep it in mind.
Now, let’s go back to our main discussion!
Important tips to know before hiking with our dog
Before you lace up your hiking boots and take a hike with your pooch, here are some important things you need to know to make the experience safe and fun-filled.
What’s your dog’s fitness level?
It is important to know your dog’s fitness level before you schedule a hike. This helps you know how long or how far your dog can go on the hiking trip.
You can get your pup checked by your veterinarian and inform them that you’re planning to take them on a hike. Your vet will gauge how much physical activity they can comfortably do. And ensure you follow whatever your vet tells you.
The senior canines and young pups are of utmost concern. You shouldn’t push these two groups too hard on the trail. Instead, they should only go for short hikes that do not last more than a few hours.
When you put too much strain on a puppy that’s still growing, it could hurt them in the process. And going hiking for hours can be too much stress for the aging bodies of senior dogs.
Get the right gear
You need to know the right gear to take along when going hiking with your four-legged friends. Some basic gears include a leash and a collar.
Also, check your county laws as your dog may be required to have an up-to-date rabies vaccine and license. You can get both of these requirements at most veterinary offices.
Don’t forget to get an ID tag for your pooch in case they get lost. You can also get your dog microchipped to ensure their safe return if they are stolen or get lost. Your veterinarian can perform the procedure and the chip can be easily scanned when your dog is turned in at a shelter or vet office.
One more thing – don’t forget to bring your poop bag when going for a hike. This shows that you are respectful of nature and other fellow hikers. Using a poop bag can make it easy to responsibly dispose of your dog’s excrement the right way.
Condition your dog for the trip
Once your vet approves that your pooch can go with you on a hike and give you limits, you can start with light walks around your neighborhood to condition your dog.
After some time, you can move on to try small hilly hikes in a nearby park. This process mimics the terrain that you’ll be taking your dog on a hike on, and it helps your pup get comfortable with the different obstacles.
Be weather prepared
You need to put the weather condition into consideration if you’re going to hike with your dog. You don’t want to be out with your Fido in the blistering heat as this can cause dehydration and trigger a stroke. You also do not want to be trapped in a rainstorm.
So ensure you check the weather forecast in your desired hiking location and choose a time that is safe for both you and your pup. And if you like, you can outfit your pup. Some wardrobe items you can get include a cool-down jacket, a puppy hiking boot, and a puppy first aid. And if you want to go hiking in the snow, you can get a sturdy winter coat for your dog.
Signs of tiredness on the trail
Never get too excited on the trail that you forget to look out for your furry friend and watch their body language. When they stop and sit, it’s a sign that you need to take it easy on them or change your walking speed. Also, it can be a sign that they’ve had enough.
Ensure you have more than enough water and keep a water bowl with you for your furry friend to drink and rehydrate. While your dog is drinking water, it’s a great time to check their paws for any thorns, splinters, or anything else.
Sometimes, your dog may want to slow down due to a minor trail injury and that’s more reason why you need to be vigilant.
Other signs you should watch out for include disorientation and heavy panting. Once you see these signs, you should place your smaller pup in your backpack and carry them along the rest of the trail. Don’t make the mistake of pushing your dog as that could lead to a serious injury.
Mater the “come back” call
You can practice the “come back” call with your dog in your backyard. They need to understand this command before allowing them to walk freely off-leash in hiking areas.
However, do not allow your dog to roam loose in areas known to have venomous snakes. When your dog has strong recall capabilities, you can easily get them out of any dangerous situation, like avoiding a rushing river, cliff, or wild animal.
Avoid only weekend hiking
If you only go hiking or exercise only weekends, you risk injuries to your dog’s joints and muscles. You need to avoid “weekend warrior” syndrome and exercise your furry friend regularly. You may not go hiking every day, but at least take them on a walk every day.
You can gradually expand the distance, elevation, and duration of your daily walks until your pooch can comfortably go for exercise that lasts more than an hour.
Protect your dogs from ticks
During spring or summer, some areas are usually crowded with ticks and other little bugs that can devour your dog as soon as they settle on them. These parasites live in trees and plants and they fall on your dog as soon as they walk by. Eventually, these ticks and bugs find their way through your dog’s fur and then to their skin, sucking their blood.
You need to be vigilant when going hiking with your dog. Remember that dogs are not verbal, hence, they rely on your understanding to be able to know when they are tired or losing strength to continue.
Ensure you visit your vet to test your pooch’s fitness level. This way you can know how far they can go. Also, get the necessary gears and come with enough water when going on a hike with your furry friend.