There are three things every dog loves: food, napping, and the great outdoors. Talking chow would just make us hungry, and though we could discuss the compelling topic of napping (we do love napping), we’re choosing to zero in on the wild world of the great outdoors, specifically on hiking with your dog.
Going on a hike with your dog can be a fantastic bonding experience. Dogs love exploring new areas, and checking out the sights and smells of the wilderness. However, no matter how wild and ferocious they may think they are, your pup is not a wolf, and can't simply be let loose into the forest.
It is up to you to keep your dog safe when out on the trail, and it's going to require some planning and consideration beyond simply hopping into your car and driving out to the nearest park. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when planning a hike for you and your dog:
Know where you're allowed to go
The first thing you should do before hitting the trails with your dog is find out if the trail you picked out actually allows dogs. Most do, though some may not, but those ones aren’t that cool anyways. So, it’s always a good idea to do some research before leaving home to find out the rules of any parks or trails you want to check out. Its also helpful to take note of whether your dog must be kept on leash at the park.
Know what your dog can handleEven if the trail you picked out does allow dogs, it may not be that well-suited for your dog. So, make sure you give some thought to what your dog can handle. Do some research on your breed, and take into consideration your dog's current physical condition. If your pooch gets a half-hour walk every day and spends the rest of the day napping, then they might not quite be ready for that 10-mile, rocky trail you’ve been wanting to check out. Either pick an easier hike to start, or work on improving your dog's physical fitness before heading out on that big adventure.
Know what you should bring
The number one thing that you need to bring when hiking with a dog is, of course, a leash, as many trails require your dog to remain on-leash. Its also a good idea to make sure that your dog’s leash and collar is fitted with an ID tag, so that your dog can be returned to you should something go wrong.
Along with your own hiking equipment, you should also leave some space for your dog's supplies. Bring along an extra leash, an extra collar, water, a bowl, some dog snacks, dog paw protector (if the terrain will be difficult), first aid equipment such as antibiotic cream and tweezers, and information about the closest vet in case your dog gets hurt.
Know how to keep your dog safe
Finally, keeping your dog safe is the most important thing you should be concerned about when taking them for a hike. It is a good idea to keep your canine friend on-leash even if the trail allows for dogs to be off-leash, as this can keep them out of trouble, especially if they’re not used to their wild surroundings. If you'd like to let your dog roam around without a leash, then make sure that they know how to listen and respond to voice commands.
When you’re out adventuring, it is always a good idea to stick to the trails as this is the best way to keep your dog away from animals such as snakes and even bears, as well as from dangerous plants such as poison ivy. Make sure that you take breaks for rest and water, as your dog could easily get dehydrated running around on a hot day.
As long as you keep an eye on your dog and tend to their needs, with the proper preparation, you'll easily have a fun and safe time exploring the great outdoors with your best friend.
See you out there!