Canines can be excellent companions in the wilderness. Exploring the great outdoors with a furry pal is an extremely fun and bonding experience, but only if you plan before embarking on dog hiking. Heading on an unplanned adventure with your fluff ball could be a dangerous mistake, one that could end horribly and even tragically!
However, with proper planning and dog hiking guidelines, this journey could be an incredibly fun experience for both of you. This article has listed all the things you need to know, bring, and do to adventure safely.
Precautions before dog hiking
Before you plan any adventure, it is crucial to understand that not all fidos are able to hike efficiently. Still, most dogs try to keep up with their beloved parents while risking their own health and safety. Thereby, it's up to the owners to be realistic about what they expect from their four-legged friends.
Here we have listed some guidelines to help you understand if your dog is hiking ready:
- Canines that are extremely young or old not only lack the strength and stamina for the hike, but their immune system also makes them vulnerable. Plus, dogs that aren't physically fit enough to endure the temperature instabilities may not make the best hiking companion.
- Short muzzle dogs such as Pugs, Boston terriers, and Boxer dogs are notorious for their lack of temperature endurance. Their brachycephalic appearances make it pretty dangerous for them to spend time in extreme heat. These seemingly adorable faces are at a higher risk of exercise intolerance and heat strokes. Nonetheless, that doesn't mean they can't have fun on short treks. Just remember to be cautious.
- Dogs that get overly excited in nature or have higher prey drives are not ideal hiking buddies. While some of these dogs can be trained through whistles and commands, most of them are likely to run after something while completely ignoring your calls.
- Canines that are still under training and those who don't respond to commands can be a threat to themselves, fellow hikers, and the wildlife around, so it's better to leave them at home.
- Never overestimate or test your pup's abilities. Reconsider the weather conditions and trail before stepping out. Is the track icy, steep, or slippery? Will it be sunny, and will there be a shade to rest for a while?
- Consult your vet to know if your fluff pal is ready for dog hiking. Make sure the fido is up to date on vaccinations. Ask the vet about preventive measures and the treatment for different parasites, including ticks and flees. Consider microchipping the dog as it will help you relocate the fido if you get separated on the hike.
Where can I take my dog hiking?
Once you have decided that your pooch is capable of hiking, the next step is to finalize the perfect hiking spot. Not all trails offer dog-friendly hikes, and many tracks require your dog to wear a leash. Some don't welcome canines at all. Thereby you will need to complete your research ahead of time to avoid any inconvenience.
Some national parks do not permit dogs, and if they do, they expect you to put your dog on a leash all the time. Take some time and understand the rules and regulations of that specific trial. Also, familiarize yourself with possible wildlife hazards to watch out for.
Look out for the places offering off-leash dog hikes, as well as prefer a path that is easy on your pup's paws. Pick Shady paths with leaf-covered terrain. Say no to the trails littered with sharp rocks, steep drops, and scorching climates. Stay away from off-trail routes, especially if you are hiking with a puppy, as they increase the risk of getting lost.
Prepare your dog for hiking with dog hiking tips.
To get your dog prepared for the trip, here's what you will need to do:
- Don't rush; practice by taking small hikes
Prepare your dog for longer trips with a series of shorter hikes first. Start with short walks and work your way up. Begin on a smooth surface and monitor your pup's response. Get your furry friend a portable dog water bottle like this one to quench the thirst on bright and sunny days. Gradually increase the distance and difficulty of each hike, building up stamina with each step.
- Prepare your dog's feet to cover the distance.
The practice hikes provide you with an incredible opportunity to toughen up those soft paws. You can also grab some snazzy hiking booties to comfort your canine's feet. If you plan to camp outside, be sure to trim the overgrown nails to prevent damages to the tent floor.
- Reinforce obedience training
As a responsible pet owner, it's your job to keep your dog under control all the time, both off and on leash. Even if you are walking alone on the track, your dog must always be within your sight to hear your calls.
No matter how well trained your dog usually is, the excitement of a new environment requires you to recall your dog's obedience training. Thereby make sure your dog remembers how to come, listen, sit, and stay even when outside.
Proper Etiquettes for hiking safely with a dog
- Keep your dog close to you all the time.
Examine your trail and determine if it requires leashes. If your dog is an overly excited fella and there is a risk that he might jump into someone or something, keep him on a six-foot or less leash. Even if you are sitting at a campsite, do not encourage off-leash dog hikes at any cost.
- Give way to other hikers.
Always try your best to step off the track with your dog when others approach.
- Communicate actively
While meeting other hikers on the trail, let them know that your pooch is friendly and communicate the same message to the dog.
- Do not try to handle two dogs at once
If you need to hike with two dogs at once, bring someone to help. However, regardless of how many human hikers are there in your group, do not bring more than two dogs as three or more dogs make a pack that may be harder to manage.
- Don't leave dog poop behind!
While packing your dog hiking backpack, put some dog poop bags in there. If you plan on camping overnight, bring a shovel and bury the poop at least 200 feet away from the campsite, hiking trails, and water sources.
- Protect the nature around you
Under no circumstances let your dog chase small animals. Plus, don't let your pet's curiosity make them bite on a poisonous plant or get bitten by a creature hosting a dangerous disease.
How to deal with dog poop on a hike?
Canines are not amongst the wild animals, so their feces isn't natural to the native fauna. In fact, their poop is extremely disturbing to the wild environment, so you must dispose of it. Many wild creatures communicate via fecal scents, and dog poop can cause territorial distress in them. So if you care about the environment you are walking your fido in, avoid this disruption as much as possible.
Don't forget to bring dog poop bags to collect the waste and carry it out. If you are hiking long distances, bring extra bags for double packing. Just do not leave your trash in nature for someone else to step on it. Dispose of it properly, no matter how bad it smells.
Common threats to look out while hiking with dogs
- Extreme temperature and weather conditions
Boiling and freezing temperatures, snow, extreme heat exposure, slippery slopes, and dehydration are all threats. Keep your dog out of the midday heat and pack extra water. Always carry a travel dog bowl like this one or bring a portable water bottle with you.
All the excitement of hiking on a fine day can be exhausting. Keep an eye on your dog's breathing and heart rate. If your dog hasn't recovered after a break, consider campaigning a little longer.
Avoid steep trails and unstable tracks. Use a harness or dog hiking backpack to help your dog climb.
- Look out for paw injuries.
Sharp rocks and thorns can make your canine's paws extremely vulnerable to cuts and injuries. So don't forget to pack dog booties. Also, if your dog is limping, that's a tell-tale sign that you need to call off hiking for the day.
Watch out for wild creatures, including coyotes, snakes, ticks, bears, and scorpions.
Plants such as Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, and certain mushrooms can all cause damage. If you notice your pup gazing or munching on any greenery, stop him at once.
- Unfamiliar territory
While putting a Metropolitan dog in a country setting, make sure you know that anything can go wrong. Do not assume that just because your pooch is an animal, he will surely know how to survive in the wild.
Packing list: Dog hiking essentials
Pack some delicious dry food options with higher protein and fat levels to give your dog an extra dose of energy. Keep your dog's fitness level and hiking difficulty in mind and increase the portion size accordingly. Feed your canine a small serving before hiking for some excess energy and offer frequent meals throughout the day.
Use your thirst as a guideline and offer your fur-ball some water every 15 to 30 minutes, depending on temperature and trial difficulty. A large breed dog might drink .5 to 1-ounce water/ pound/ day.
Small breed dogs will drink around 1.5 ounces/ pound. An average breed dog such as a golden retriever may drink half a gallon of water every day. Keep in mind that your dog will need a lot more water than usual, and you should not let your pooch drink from water sources containing pathogens.
- Dog first aid kit
Pack a dog first aid kit including heavy-duty bandages, liquid bandage antiseptic, pet-friendly antibiotic ointment, tweezers, antihistamines, and doggy sunscreen.
- Heatstroke prevention
Bring some ice packs and apply them to your dog's paw pads to cool the canine off. You can also wet a bandana and wrap it around the ice packs, so they don't slip.
- Dog pack
Let your pooch carry his own stuff with a special dog hiking backpack. Make sure the backpack fits him and is appropriately balanced.
- Collar with a tag
Make your dog wear a collar with a tag that has your name, dog's name, license info, and your telephone number on it.
- Dog sleeping blanket or pad
Unless you are planning on letting your pooch sleep with you, you will want to grab a dog sleeping blanket or pad for him to sleep. If you have a small dog, you can also use this dog booster car seat in your tent to protect your place against pee stains and scratches.
- Dog brush
Use a dog brush to keep your dog's fur tangle-free.
- Flashlight and a glow stick
Attach a glow stick to your dog's collar to keep track of his activities at night.
Commonly Asked Questions Regarding Dog Hiking
- What if my dog gets injured while hiking?
Before you head out on your adventure, it would be wise to note the contact info for the nearest vet. It will help your dog get immediate medical attention.
- What if my dog eats something poisonous on the hike?
If your dog is vomiting or gagging a lot, it's time to rush to the vet. If possible, find out what the dog has eaten to help the vet determine the next steps.
- How to know if my dog is too tired to hike?
If a dog is breathing rapidly, drooling excessively, is unresponsive, and visibly exhausted, it's high time you take some rest.
- Can my dog drink water from a pond stream or river?
Absolutely not! Letting your dog drink from untreated water sources is a big no-no. Such water sources are contaminated with harmful chemicals and organisms, so you should avoid them at all costs.