Most people might assume that delving into the hiking world with your dog would be an easy task to undergo. You just put on your hiking boots, grab a leash, and hit the trail, right? While it might seem easy on the outside for someone looking in, there’s actually a lot more to adventuring with you dog than you think. From food and water, dog boots, to vigorous training, there is a lot that goes into bringing your best friend on the trail. Lucky for you, we have a whole guide put together and ready to educate you on everything you need to know in order to be prepared. So sit back, read, and take notes so you’re ready to go!
Know the Rules
One of the most important things is to know the rules when hitting the trail, as well as the proper etiquette when near other hikers and dog owners. Since most trails and campsites are the same, we put together a generic list of things to pay attention to.
- Keep your dog under control. Make sure that you are paying attention to your dogs at all times. Always have them in clear sight and within ear shot. This shouldn’t be hard, especially because if you are hiking, it’s a probably best to keep them on a short leash to be safe.
- Yield to other hikers. When on the trail it is a good idea to let other hikers and riders pass to make sure there are no accidents. Share the trail and move over to the side as they pass.
- Communicate effectively to others. It’s important to communicate with other dog owners or even hikers by themselves. Let them know if your dog is friendly or not to strangers. It’s safer to just inform others rather than just let things go.
- Clean up after your dog. This one is pretty straight forward. It’s just common courtesy to pick up after your dog and keep the trail clean. Be sure that you bring along your own dog waste bags. If you forget to bring them, most trails will have a complementary station with waste bags, as well as trash cans to dispose of said waste. Be sure to locate and use these areas, that’s what they’re there for!
- Protect wildlife around you. Dogs can often times get distracted by the local wildlife on the trails. To keep these creatures safe, watch your dog and do not let them attack or run after a wild animal.
- Don’t try to take on more than you can manage. If you are just starting, always stick to one dog. You might think you can handle more than one, but it’s safer to just go with one until you are an expert. And even then it is important to still take precautions.
How to Prepare Your Dog
First thing first, it’s important to make sure that your dog is one that can even handle the trails. Consider their age and athletic ability, or if they can stand being in the heat for long periods of time or not. Some dogs are just built for hiking, such as Burmese hiking dogs, or labradors since their bodies are more muscular, their legs are longer and they naturally have more energy. Others may be more comfortable inside and being pampered, such as your typical lap dogs like chihuahuas and pomeranians . Also do not just expect your dog to be ready to hit the trail right of the back. Just like humans, dog need time to warm up into hiking. Start off by going on short hikes and gradually work your way up to longer and more vigorous trails. Do not overwork your dog or force them to continue if they are tired. Doing so could really harm your dog.
It’s also important to make sure that your dog has all their shots before taking them anywhere near other dogs or people. Dogs typically get their first shots after 4-6 months, so be attentive to when your dog is due for them.
Finally, do your research! Look up the trails around the area to make sure that dogs are allowed, as well as how it fairs to your particular pet. Also take into consideration the drive time and what is around that area. Should anything terrible happened, it’s better to know what resources are around you.
What to Bring
Finally! Time to start packing up to get going. Below we have a list of suggested items, but it is not at all limited to just these! The more prepared the better.
- Portable bowls and cups
- First Aid kits
- Weather gear
- Waste bags
- Dog booties
- Short leash (six feet or less)
- Collar with dog tags
When it comes to food and water, it really depends on the length of your trip to decide how much to bring. Pack whatever they normal eat and drink on a normal day at the house, and then some extra just in case they need more energy or if you stay out longer than planned. There are thousands of dog gear and equipment to help you on your trip, and by looking through the rest of the articles here on All Terrain Dog, you can find many in depth reviews on the things you may want to take.
This list above is one for a quick trip hiking through the woods or mountains. If you plan to stay longer ot maybe even camp out, additional equipment may be needed for your dog. This can range from grooming supplies to sleeping bags, so be sure to do any other research if you want any more information when it comes to more than hiking.
If you would like a recommendation for a good travel first aid kit for your pet, go over and check out our article on RC Pet Products Pet First Aid Kit.
Dangers to Look Out For While Hiking
While you are out on the trail, there is a few things that we want to remind you to keep an eye out for.
The weather. Pay attention to the sky and know what to look for for signs of rain or other natural disasters such as flooding or mudslides. Being out in the middle of nature, you want to make sure that you and your dog is safe above all.
Overexertion. Pay attention to your dog and how they are feeling. Periodically stop and give them water, as well as yourself, to avoid dehydration. If your dog is heavily panting, consider taking a break or even by turning back and heading home. Remember, dogs can’t always express how they are feeling. It’s important to pay attention and attend to their needs as their owner.
Falling and other injuries. Hiking can be as simple as a trail or climbing up the side of the mountain. Be aware of your dog’s foot placement and if they are able to properly trek the terrain. Paws can easily be caught or stuck between rocks or twisted if they miss-step. Pay attention to their walking and look for any discomfort when standing to make sure they haven’t hurt their legs in any way.
Wildlife. Just as we reminded you to keep your dog from harming other animals, we feel it’s important to warn you of the harmful creatures that could come to you. From snakes to bears, it’s possible to run into pretty much any forest or mountain animal when hiking. Do not engage these animals to avoid injury or possible death to either you or your dog. Also do not let your dog chew on plants and other things that you do not recognize. You never know when a plat could be harmful to your dog, and it’s better safe than sorry.
Unfamiliar territory. As someone with terrible directional skills, it’s not hard for me to loose my way when hiking. Know the trail you are walking and look for landmarks to make sure that you do not get lost in the woods or wherever you are hiking. It may seem simple, but you’d be surprised how easy it can be to get lost in the wilderness. It is a good idea to have a way to track your dog such as an attachable gps collar or even a microchip. It’s also a good idea to make sure your phone is charged so that you always have access to a map.
In closing, hiking can be a great and fun time to share with your dog. It’s a good way to both bond and help get the energy out of their system. By being prepared, it makes for a much easier and more enjoyable experience for everyone involved. After having read this article, just remember to do do your research and pay attention to your dog and the rest should be a breeze. You’ve got this! Now get to preparing and plan an exciting trip for you and your furry best friend.>