Hiking With Your Dogs
You love the great outdoors, and your dog does too! What better way to share an adventure than to spend a day on the trail with your 4-legged buddy? A dog can be an ideal hiking companion. Hiking with your dog can give you a sense of security and companionship. Their heightened senses can even alert you to wild entertainment you might otherwise miss. But, before you go running off into the woods, you want to make sure you’re prepared for the expected and the unexpected. Here are a few things you should consider.
Before you head out, make sure your dog’s rabies and other vaccinations, as well as protection against heartworm, fleas, and ticks are up to date, since your dog will be mixing with a wild crowd while on the trail. Extra items in your first aid kit should include, vet wrap and gauze for wounds, EMT gel and/or styptic powder to clot blood from broken toenails, tweezers or tick remover tool, and a bandana. On a typical day hike, dog booties won’t be necessary, but it’s a good idea to stick them in your pack, in case of paw injury.
Know the Terrain
To avoid injury and maximize fun, be sure to pick a trail that is suitable to you and your pup’s physical condition and ability. Fido may have 4-wheel drive, but not all terrain is suitable for a dog. You may encounter tough rock scrambles or dangerous cliffs that could pose a hazard to you and your pup. Keep in mind that your dog is hiking barefoot, and trails with rocky terrain can be tough on paws, so check toes and footpads often.
Most hiking areas require your dog to be on a leash at all times, not only for his safety but also that of the hikers and wildlife around you. So, always bring a leash. If you are lucky enough to hike in an area that allows off-leash dogs, be sure that your dog has a good recall, so that he doesn’t run away, chase wildlife, or harass other hikers. A harness would be a safer choice over a collar. You may need to quickly pull your dog to safety and a neck collar can put strain on your dog’s neck and breathing. ID tags with your cell phone number are a must!
Other Trail Essentials
Fresh drinking water is as important for your dog as it is for you, so be sure to bring a collapsible water bowl and extra water for easy in-transit hydration. And, don’t forget the snacks. A dog pack is a great way to carry the extra gear your dog needs, but proper fit and load weight are important things to consider, otherwise you’ll be the one carrying it! And remember to always pick up after your dog. Not doing so is a surefire way to ruin other hikers’ enjoyment of the trail.
At the end of every hike, be sure to check your pup’s paws for injuries and thoroughly check his coat for ticks. If your hike included muddy trails, or brush with poison ivy, it’s more than likely your dog will need to hit the tub.
A tired dog is a happy dog. Now that you’ve found another fun activity you can enjoy with your dog, and you know how to keep it safe, get on out there and hit the trails!