I love taking my dogs on hikes … and they love hiking! They love to smell the different smells and explore the rural environment. When I take periodic breaks to rest and hydrate, they usually look at me with sad eyes because they so badly want to keep exploring. While most canine kids love hitting the trails for a long walk, there are some things you need to consider before hiking with your dog.
Before Your Hike
Before you take your dogs on a hike, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is your dog physically capable of hiking? – If your dog has any medical conditions (like arthritis), is overweight, or is a senior citizen pooch, make sure to consult with your vet before hitting the trails.
- Is the hiking trail too strenuous for your dog? – Even if your dog is physically capable of hiking, that doesn’t mean they are prepared for all trails. I make sure to stick to the easy trails!
- Is your dog allowed on the hiking trail? – Check the park’s rules before you bring your dog along.
- Is your dog socialized? – Prepare to run into other hikers and their dogs.
- Is your dog microchipped? – Expect the best, but prepare for the worst. In case your dog ever gets loose and runs away, a microchip can help reunite you with your fur baby.
- Is your dog up-to-date on vaccines/ heartworm medicine/ flea and tick prevention? – You have no idea what your dog will be exposed to during your hike. Make sure they’re up-to-date on vaccines and other medicines that can help keep their health protected.
Picking The Right Trail
As I just mentioned in the last section, not every hiking trail is dog-friendly. Bring Fido is a great website that can help you find dog-friendly hiking trails all over the world.
What To Bring
Once you’ve determined your fur baby is physically ready for a hike, it’s time to start packing. Bring the following:
- ID tags
- Plenty of water and snacks
- Collapsible water bowls
- Doggy poop bags
- Tick repellant
- Generic Benadryl (in case your dog has an allergic reaction)
- Bandages (in case your dog hurts his paw)
- Dog booties (to protect paws from getting scraped and cut)
- Reflective vest (to help you see your dog easier if you’re hiking in the late afternoon or evening)
During Your Hike
Keep your dog on a leash – Many hiking trails ask owners to keep their dogs on leashes. Keeping your dog on a tight leash will ensure they don’t run after an enticing squirrel. It will also help you keep a close eye on their surroundings. You don’t want your dog wandering off the path to paw at a deadly snake.
Don’t allow your dog to drink standing water – Standing water is a breeding ground for harmful parasites and bacteria that can make your dog fatally ill.
Stay on the trail – Leaving the trail increases your risk of getting lost and running into wildlife. It’s best for you and your pet to stick to the trail.
Take breaks – Make sure your dog stays hydrated. While they may not want to take a break, it’s important to make them stop to drink some water.
Pick up after your dog – Be kind and pick up your dog’s poop.
After Your Hike
After you get off the hiking trail, carefully check your dog for ticks or other bugs. Make sure they don’t have anything crawling in their fur. If you do find an unwanted visitor, here is a quick guide to how to safely remove a tick.
Once you get home from your hike, expect your fur babies to catch some serious zzzzzs! When I get home from hiking with my dogs, they sleep for hours!