We all take our dogs on walks, but have you ever taken your dog on a hike? If not, it’s definitely something to consider. Engaging in activities with your pet is not only fun but a great bonding experience. Some of the best times I have had with my dogs have been in nature. Exploring the great outdoors with your pup is a great way to exercise and introduce novelty and adventure into your routine; all the things that help dogs live happy lives and deepen the bond between you.
How to Prepare for a Hike with Dogs:
However, before setting out on your adventure, make sure you are prepared with the following information and essentials:
1. Be sure to check that dogs are allowed. Take a moment to research where you will be hiking and obey any restrictions concerning areas that are off-limits. Not all hiking trails allow dogs—many national parks, for example, either ban dogs or only allow them in certain areas and on specific trails or at certain times.
2. Keep your dog on a leash. This one important guideline helps to ensure that other hikers will feel comfortable when they meet you on the trail. It also prevents your dog from chasing wildlife and reduces the habitat damage that occurs when dogs run off the trail. Dogs can leave behind a predator scent that disrupts wildlife and may hinder nesting and feeding activities. There are certain parks that allow dogs to be off-leash legally, but be sure to look up the rules accordingly.
3. Plan for your dog’s needs. Be sure to pack food, water, and accessories that will keep your dog energized, hydrated, and comfortable. Depending on how strenuous your hike is, your dog will require upwards of 25% more calories than their typical intake. They’ll also need more water than usual. Here are some items we suggest bringing along on adventures:
Essentials for Hiking with Dogs
- Pride+Groom THE MANE TAME: On hikes, it’s no surprise that dogs get dirty! But you can’t always find a spot to bathe them before getting back in the car or heading back home.THE MANE TAME is light, foamy, and super easy to use. No water necessary. It contains essential oils that help make your furry pal smell fresh and clean, no matter where you are.
- Springer Classic Travel Dog Water Bottle: Keep your pup hydrated during any excursion (perfect for walks, hikes, and travel). This innovative Travel Bottle was designed for your dog to drink from the attached bowl without wasting a drop. Simply squeeze the bottle and water fills the bowl. Release your squeeze when your dog is done and the excess water drains back into the bottle! It’s 100% leak-tight and includes a carabiner to easily clip onto belt loops, leashes, bags, and more.
- Tick and Insect Repellent: It’s always great to find a product that you can actually share with your dog. TickWise by 3 Moms Organics is composed of pure and effective essential oils, and naturally stops ticks in their tracks so they don’t hitch a ride onto your animal and into your house making YOU their prime target.
- A Good Hiking Leash: The best dog leashes for hiking may differ depending on your breed and how well trained your dog is. Climbing rope dog leads are the strongest which makes them very safe for hiking rough trails. Extendable dog leashes for hiking allow untrained dogs to run around while still being kept under control. Hands-free dog leashes are perfect for hiking as you still have both hands free for balance and support.
- A First Aid kit: this is important not only in the event of a natural disaster but any time a pet is far away from immediate help, you should have emergency supplies at the ready. Injuries happen, even to the most experienced hikers, whether on two feet or four.
Your First Aid Kit for Dog Should Contain things such as:
- Absorbent gauze pads
- Adhesive tape
- Cotton balls or swabs
- Fresh 3% hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting (always check with a veterinarian or animal poison control expert before giving it to your pet)
- Ice pack
- Disposable gloves
- Scissors with a blunt end
- OTC antibiotic ointment
- An oral syringe or turkey baster
- Small flashlight
- Alcohol wipes
- Saline eye solution
Know your dog’s limits: Some dogs need a little extra encouragement when they are new to hiking (or any activity) because they are unsure of their surroundings and their ability. There is a fine line between encouragement and pushing beyond limits though. It’s possible for you to miss the warning signs that your dog has had enough when you have little to no experience doing a lot of rigorous physical activity with them.
Keep an eye out for signs that your dog is too tired to continue hiking, and learn how your own dog lets you know that they have reached their limit.
Lastly, Leave No Trace: On day hikes, always pack out filled poop bags. It’s also bad form to leave anything on the trail for later pickup. On longer trips, bury pet waste in a 6- to an 8-inch hole that’s at least 200 feet away from trails, camps, and water sources.
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