Hiking Tips When Out with Your Dog
One of the greatest pleasures in life is out on a hike, getting fresh air, wonderful exercise, and gorgeous views. For those who own a dog, hiking is even more of a pleasure, exploring nature with your best four-legged friend. It is therapeutic for you both. Having said that, it does not come without responsibility.
Several things should be kept in mind when it comes to good hiking etiquette with your dog, so you both (and others) will stay safe.
Benefits Of Hiking with Your Dog
1 – You both get exercise – good for the body, mind, and soul. Hiking is a great way to stay active. As they say, move it or lose it. Hiking with your pooch motivates you to keep going and push yourself further.
2 – Fresh air reduces stress – more oxygen to the brain not only makes for a healthy body but a healthy mental state. It’s great for recharging the brain for creativity and other mental exercises. Not only that, but it’s the perfect stress reducer and leads to a better state of mind.
3 – You will get quality time with your dog – nothing says bonding time between man and beast like navigating the woods together. This is also a great way to train your dog in general etiquette and obeying your commands. It establishes mutual feelings of trust and companionship.
4 – It’s safer. If you often hike alone, it’s not always the safest thing. Hiking with your dog will make you feel safer. Because of their keen senses, they can pick up on sounds, sights, and smells way before you can and alert you to any potential hazards.
5 – Hiking also provides a healthy outlet for your dog to get a different perspective on the world other than your home or your surrounding neighborhood. Hiking keeps your dog from getting too bored and restless. They will revel in the new terrain, new scents, etc.
All said, hiking with your dog is very enjoyable. Just keep in mind that not all breeds are predisposed to the outdoor lifestyle. Be mindful of your furry pal’s needs and don’t take them out on the trail unless it’s a good fit for both of you.
Trail Etiquette with Your Dog
Here are some general hiking rules and guidelines to follow for a successful hiking trip with your dog.
Prepare Your Dog. First, talk to your vet. Depending on whether you choose to do lengthy or strenuous hikes, find out if your pooch is well-suited for such hikes, and if they have any pre-existing conditions that might deter them from doing it. Also, make sure they are up to date with their shots and vaccines, and protect them from fleas and ticks you’ll encounter in the great outdoors. Make sure they are well fed and bring snacks for them (and yourself) if it will be a long hike. Finally, bring the appropriate clothing gear for both of you during inclement weather, as well as a leash and collar with identification.
Train Your Dog. A healthy, well-behaved dog is the key to a successful hike. If your dog is well socialized, great! But if not, consider working on obedience with your dog to prevent any embarrassing interactions with other dogs or people. Some breeds are naturally friendly, but it always helps to have a good-mannered canine companion at your side.
It’s a good idea to know your dog’s temperament and reactions to new situations well before you go on any hike. Know your dog’s limits and how much they can handle physically. If you don’t, take them on short hikes at first, then increase in frequency until you get a good idea of their stamina.
Don’t let your dog bark excessively; it may trigger other dogs to react negatively. When they are well behaved, reinforce those good manners with a treat, and always be sure your dog is on a leash. Be aware of your surroundings at all times and keep a close watch on your dog for signs of overheating and to make sure they don’t get into anything harmful.
Bring the Essentials. When on any hike, long or short, be sure you have the following:
- Water – for every hour of hiking, bring 8 ounces of water for your dog to drink.
- First aid kit – having one for you and one for your dog is good in case of emergencies.
- Insect repellent – if you’re hiking through the woods or any heavily vegetative trail, insect repellent for both of you will be your friend. DO NOT use human bug spray on your pet.
- Doggie doo bags – ALWAYS pick up after your dog, no matter how remote the location. It’s just the right thing to do. The worst thing is to have someone else step in your dog’s waste and have the smell linger on them throughout their hike.
- If you are hiking later in the day or evening, bring reflective gear, and a headlight or flashlight.
Know the Trail. Research the trail ahead of time. How long and/or difficult is it? Does it allow pets? Also, avoid hiking in areas that allow hunting or trapping (you should see signs posted for this). Hiking state and national parks is a great way to be sure your path is free from these dangers, but know that some park trails do not allow dogs. Take regular breaks, and always obey local laws and trail regulations.
Lastly, Have an Emergency Plan. If something goes wrong, have a plan in place in case something happens to you or your dog. Know how to use those emergency kits, how to remove splinters from your dog’s paws, and how to treat snake bites. If your dog becomes injured on the trail, head back immediately and call the vet.
Most of all, slow down, take your time, take pictures, and just enjoy this bonding time with your dog. It is one of life’s greatest pleasures!