If your four-legged best friend loves going for walks and you’re planning on upping your pooch’s activity level with hiking, then rest assured your dog will love the event. Most breeds of dogs love taking hikes in the great outdoors just about as much as they enjoy a beautiful, tasty piece of steak.
However, if you are getting started with your dog on hikes, what can you do to prepare? Since you want to ensure the safety of your four-legged best friend, we’ve got a few tips for you covering how you can make your dog for hiking.
Here’s our list of 10 Tips for getting your dog prepared for hiking:
1. Train Your Pup Before You Hike
Taking your pup for a hike is one of the best adventures you and your dog can share. If you’ve started researching how to train your dog for walks, you’ve probably got a new pup you with which you want to prepare. If that’s the case, there’s a couple of things you’ll need to consider before you take your pooch out for a hike.
First, if you have a pup that’s a rescue or adopted from a pound, make sure you’ve socialized your pooch to be comfortable around other people and dogs. When you are out hiking, you’ll likely run into other dogs and people, so you want your dog to feel relaxed when you run into different individuals and their pets on the trail.
Before taking your dog out on its first hike, you can give him or her a little test by going to the dog park. By taking your dog to the dog park, you’ll be socializing your pup and making sure your dog is ready to be around other people and animals. If your dog isn’t prepared, start by taking several trips to the park until you notice your dog relaxing around other dogs and people.
Next, you’ll need to train for hiking. If you are both out of shape, you’ll need to remember you are the one that will wind up having to carry your dog down a trail if anything goes wrong. So, start taking long walks with your dog on shorter, smoother trails to allow both of you time to get into shape. If you are worried about your dog’s health, it’s a good idea to get a vet check-up before you go on your first hike.
If your dog is already well socialized, you could consider taking a hiking training class together. If you do that, you’ll be able to lean a lot about hiking with your dog from people that are experienced. Also, you’ll be walking with other people, and there is safety in numbers.
When you are first getting used to hiking with your dog, it helps to go with other people because you’ll always have assistance and you’ll be able to ask questions as you learn.
2. Find Dog-Friendly Trails
Next, consider doing some research so that you can find the best dog-friendly trails that are near you. Make sure dogs are allowed at the path you plan to hike. Remember, dogs are not permitted on all hiking trails, so it’s essential to research to make sure you can take your dog to a hike.
If you like to hike in National Parks or State Parks, you’ll find the trails and areas where you can take a dog are limited. If you want to search around to find out information on where you can bring your dog when you visit a particular park, check out www.nps.gov. You can also visit the State Park’s website.
You want to find trails that won’t be too tough on your dog’s paws. So, stay away from trails that have sharp rocks and instead opt for trails that have dirt paths. Also, don’t forget about the weather. If it’s hot, try to find a pathway that has plenty of shade for your dog.
3. Remember Food, Water, and Treats
Your dog will need plenty of food, water, and treats when you hit the trail. You probably pack your trail mix, beef jerky, granola bars and water for yourself while you are hiking, but you’ll need to remember to bring along what your dog needs, too.
It’s a good idea to take along some of your dog’s regular food in a Ziplock bag and add in a few tasty treats. You’ll also want to make sure your dog gets a few bites while you are hiking so that your pooch can keep up the energy while on-the-go. Depending on the length and difficulty of your hike, you should expect to give your dog a few snacks to help finish the walk.
Also, bring a separate water bottle with a collapsible bowl for your dog when hiking. That way you can reuse any water your dog doesn’t drink and pour it back into his or her water bottle.
4. Bring Poop Bags
You’ll also need to make sure that you bring along poop bags to take care of any leavings your dog may form on the trail. Remember, you are responsible for ensuring the ecosystem of the path is maintained. So, you need to be prepared with plenty of poop dogs so that you are ready to pick up after your dog as you hike.
5. Bring a Doggy First Aid Kid
While most people hike with a first aid kit to cover any injuries they might incur while on-the-go, you’re going to need to consider doing the same thing for your dog. So, make sure you have plenty of doggy first-aid items that you take along with you.
You want to be prepared in case your dog cuts a paw or gets hit with a tick. If you’ve got your doggy first-aid items, you’ll be able to assist your dog immediately, so your pooch stays healthy and safe.
6. Have Your Dog Carry a Pack
If your dog is capable of handling a pack and has an appropriate size, age, and fitness level, then you can have your dog carry some of its gear. Pet stores carry backpacks designed for your pooch to bring along their items. It’s best to take your dog along to a pet store when buying a pack for it.
You’ll want your dog there so that you can have him or her try on a few different backpacks. That way, you’ll get the best and most comfortable pack for your dog.
Before you put the pack on your dog and take a hike, let your dog test out the new bag and get used to it by wearing it around the house. That way, you can also keep an eye on the backpack and make sure it is comfortable and doesn’t chafe your dog.
Also, when you are getting ready to load the pack on your dog for the trail, make sure you make the weight even on both sides, and you don’t make your dog carry so many items it’ll struggle.
7. Bring Extra Puppy Clothes
If you are going along for a colder hike or you plan to be camping overnight, then you’ll want to stash away some clothes for your pooch. When you are on-the-go, you probably won’t need to put many clothes on your dog. However, on long breaks or when camping overnight, warmer clothing will help keep your dog happy.
It’s a good idea to bring a few layers of clothing along with you if you are going when the weather is unusually cold. That way, you can have your dog sleep in layers if the temperature drops more than expected.
8. Take Along Your Dog’s Favorite Toy
If you are going on a long hike or an overnight camping trip, think about taking along your dog’s favorite toy. Longer walks typically require you to take breaks when you eat.
Bringing along your dog’s favorite toy will give your pooch something to do if you have to stop for a while. Your dog’s favorite toy will also be a good distraction if you have a pooch that likes to try to run off and explore.
9. Monitor Your Dog Wisely
While you are hiking, make sure you keep your eye on your dog in case he or she shows any signs of fatigue or discomfort. If you notice your dog is limping, sluggish, or panting too often, you might need to take a break. Check your dog out, give him or her food or water, and also use that first aid kit as you need to.
Remember that you don’t need to wait to see your dog acting tired to take a break. Instead, you want to take breaks to make sure both you and your dog stay hydrated and fueled up with food to keep going. So, you can avoid problems with efficient and effective breaks.
10. Check Your Pooch Before Heading Home
After you’ve finished that first hike, you’ll want to make sure you check out your dog before heading home. Making sure your dog doesn’t have any cuts, bruises, or other issues is vital to maintaining your dog’s health. Check out your dog’s paws and belly to see if anything got rubbed or scratched. Also, check for ticks and bug bites so that you can care for those issues right away
As a longtime outdoor enthusiast, Dr. Krisitna Nelson has long enjoyed writing about outdoor hobbies and nature. She’s lived in several communities that have outdoor enthusiast clubs, and she has written about outdoor equipment and products for several years.