Eight Awesome Dog Hiking Tips for an Unforgettable Excursion with Your Dog
Dog owners know the feeling of heart-brokenness when you’re forced to leave your dog behind at home or at a dog kennel because the national park where you are planning to hike doesn’t allow dogs on the trail. The face of dejection and anxiety your dog puts on as you drive away can take you for a guilt trip.
Fortunately, there are thousands of places around the country where you can take dogs hiking with you. If you are new to dog hiking, it’s important to know that hiking with your faithful companion requires much more than simply jumping in the car with the leash for a quick 5-mile jaunt through the woods. Below we offer eight awesome dog hiking tips so that every trail experience with your dog will be a memorable one.
If your dog isn’t used to hiking, you will want to take the time to break him or her in to the routine. Just as you most likely don’t have the stamina to take on a 25-mile day hike up a 14,000-foot peak without intense training, the same goes for your dog, no matter how much energy he or she shows.
Instead of deciding to tackle that strenuous three-day backpacking trip right off the bat, take your dog for several shorter trips first so that both you and your dog can get accustomed to a good rhythm and so you understand how to hike together.
Find the Right Dog Backpack
Unless you are only planning on doing a short one-mile hike, you most likely will want your dog to carry his or her own weight, literally. There are several quality dog backpacks on the market that allow you dog to comfortably carry his or her own food and water dish, the water they´ll need for the path, snacks for later in the afternoon, and of course, that favorite toy.
You will need to learn how to properly tie or strap on the backpack so that it fits snugly to your dog´s back while not causing any sort of rubbing that could cause discomfort, blisters, or even open wounds. You can read about how to get an awesome dog backpack at this great review for the best dog backpacks out there.
Do Your Leash Training Before Hitting the Trail
If your dog literally pulls you when you head out for your evening walk around the neighborhood, you will need to teach your dog how to properly walk with a leash before going trail bound. If you are hiking on a trail where dogs are required to be on a leash, it can be extremely frustrating for both you and your dog if your dog is constantly pulling you from one side of the trail to the next. Make sure to teach your pup the manners of walking with a leash before heading out for that 3 day, 25-mile backpacking trip.
Be Aware of Wildlife
Though the chances of your dog getting devoured by a pack of wolves is slim to none, you do need to be aware of the wildlife that is present in the region where you are hiking. Small to medium size dogs can be lured away from you by coyotes to be then attacked by the group. Deer and other large animals, though not carnivores, will be extremely protective of their young and can cause severe injury to your dog by kicking their hind legs. Make sure you know what wildlife is around and if you do come across some animal, make sure your dog is leashed or obediently comes when called. Here is a great article by The Pooch Coach on how to be prepared for and handle your dog being sprayed by a skunk.
Bring Your Tweezers
If you live in an area where ticks are present, you will want to have a pair of tweezers handy to pick off any of those nasty bugs before they burrow in to your dog´s skin. While taking a rest on the trail, a quick comb over will allow you to pick out any ticks before they get too firmly embedded into your dog.
No one likes stepping on dog droppings, so if your dog does leave a gift in the middle of the trail, be sure to take care of it. Poop bags are necessary. Pack them in; pack them out; enough said.
Take Along the Collapsible Bowl
Many a backpack zipper has been ruined by hikers trying to force the zipper closed around a large, heavy, and blundering water bowl that simply doesn’t fit in the pack. The hard water bowls you use at home are simply not fit for the trail. Lightweight collapsible bowls are easy to carry and will save your pack from yet another ruined zipper.
Keep Your Pup on the Trail
When your spunky little pup sees a squirrel dart across the trail and into the nearby woods, the temptation to chase after it can be almost too much to handle. However, it is best to make sure that your dog stays on the trail always both for their own safety (you never know when a bear might be hiding nearby) and to protect the fragile ecosystem you are hiking through.
With these eight simple dog hiking tips, every hiking trip with your dog will be a memorable one.
Special thanks to Scott Moses for his help with this article!