Hiking is a great way to get exercise and fresh air for you and your dog. Dogs make hiking more interesting and fun, in my opinion.
Before you start hiking with your dog, make sure it is up to date on vaccinations as well as flea and tick prevention so they don’t catch anything in the outdoors.
If your dog is not used to hiking, you should start out with shorter hikes and build up its endurance. Avoid hiking during the hottest part of the day and when it is too hot outside in general. Dogs can get overheated easier than us.
Smaller dogs, older dogs, and dogs with health conditions such as arthritis may not be able to hike as far or go on the more difficult hikes.
Here are some more tips to follow if you plan to hike with your dog.
Bring Supplies For Your Dog
Your dog needs rest breaks, food, and water just like you do. The length of the hike you plan will determine how much food and water you need to bring. If it is just a quick hike, at the very least you need water.
Make sure you bring enough water and a container for your dog to drink out of. Bring more than you think you need as more is always better! Bottled water is best, preferably in a bottle where it stays cool or at least room temperature. There are collapsible containers that make it really easy to bring water for your dog.
I really like this combination water bottle and bowl.
If you are taking your dog on a longer hike, bring some snacks as well.
If you are hiking on rocky terrain, snow, or areas with nettles or cacti, you should have your dog wear protective booties to prevent injury to their paws.
Just like us, dogs can get sunburn and even skin cancer. The most common areas for them to get burned is their nose, ears and ear flaps, belly, or other areas that have less hair to protect their skin. There are dog-safe sunscreens you can buy.
You may also want to carry a small first aid kit for your dog in case it gets a bug bite or another type of injury while walking.
Know the Leash Laws
Make sure dogs are allowed on the trails you plan to hike. Some places do not allow dogs, so its best to check before you go there.
Most hiking trails are going to require you to keep your dog on a leash, which is recommended either way. The leash protects your dog so that you can pull it back in case of an emergency, but also helps you ensure you know where your dog is at all times.
If there is another person or animal your dog doesn’t like, it is protecting them as well by keeping your dog close to you without bothering other people or animals. It is always a good idea to bring along an extra leash just in case you need it.
Know What Your Dog Can Handle
Just because your dog likes going on long walks around your neighborhood, doesn’t mean it is going to enjoy long hikes. You should start your dog slow by introducing it to a short and easy hike in the beginning.
Once your dog adjusts to this or you can see the dog enjoys the hike, then you can start bringing it on the more difficult ones. Don’t push your dog and make sure it gets plenty of breaks as needed.
Watch for signs that your dog may have over exerted or is over heated such as excessive panting, bright red gums, excessive drooling, or weakness.
Clean Up After Your Dog
If your dog goes to the bathroom on the hike, make sure you clean up after it. Being out in nature doesn’t mean this is not your responsibility. You should bring potty clean-up bags with you and toss them in the trash at the end of the hike.
At the end of your hike, make sure to check your dog over for any injuries and for ticks.