You’re ready to pack up your daypack and hit the trail with your dog. It’s a hot summer afternoon, and you’re itching to explore the forest. If you plan on going for a day hike with your dog, it’s important that you prepare and take care of your four-legged companion! In this blog post, we will discuss how to prepare before hitting the trails, what to bring on an adventure with dogs in tow, as well as some tips about what not to bring along.
Before the hike
Make sure your dog is up to date on vaccines, doesn’t have an injury that prevents them from walking long distances, and has plenty of water. If you’re hiking with puppies or older dogs who can’t keep up as well, consider bringing a doggy backpack for carrying extra supplies like their food and drink.
Is your dog physically ready and/or old enough? Make sure your pup’s bones are fully developed before taking them on extended walks or hikes. That could mean waiting anywhere from 6 to 24 months depending on the breed and many other factors. Your best bet would be to consult with your vet if you are unsure.
What to Pack:
- dog waste/poop bags.
- water bowl and collapsible water container.
- food/snacks for your pup, depending on their hiking diet requirements.
- dog booties to protect and prevent cuts from rough/sharp terrain.
- a first aid kit to cover any potential injuries or other emergencies that may occur during the hike like blisters, insect bites, cuts from sticks or sharp rocks. We recommend bringing a doggy bandage wrap as it’s reusable with no need for adhesive tape which can harm paws.
- If you are hiking in an area where there is snow coverage such as higher altitudes, make sure to bring warm clothes for your dog.
During the hike
Stay close by your pup in case they need help crossing streams or trails where there may be gaps too big to jump over! Share trail snacks with your dog so they don’t get hungry during the day while you’re out exploring. Dogs should also walk at least five feet apart from other humans away from any crowded areas if possible (dog etiquette).
Trail Hazards/Cautions for Dogs
Your dog is at risk for most of the same hazards that you are. However, hiking with dogs, if not careful, can increase the chance of injuries and accidents for either you or your canine friend. Here are some things to be on the lookout for:
- Getting startled by wildlife. Dogs may get excited and run off if they spot something interesting that you can’t see from your perspective. Practice good leash control.
- Poison Ivy, Stinging Nettles & other wild plants. Your best prevention is to keep them away – but if they end up getting a little too close and curious, you need to stop their chewing immediately.
- Fox Urine and Feces. Certain animal wildlife, particularly foxes, can sometimes carry a bacterial infection called leptospirosis, which can be harmful and sometimes fatal to your dog.
- Heat Strokes. Look out for excessive panting. Make sure to take breaks in cool, shaded areas and have enough water to ready.
- Remember that hiking in high altitudes can be more difficult for your dog than hiking at a lower altitude.
Lastly, don’t overdo it! Keep up their pace during any hikes so they don’t get tired! This also applies when you’re hiking downhill, especially if your pup has joint problems such as arthritis. If your dog does start slowing down, stop for a break, when possible, along the trail so they have more time to rest before continuing the hike.
If you are just starting to hike with your dog, start with shorter hikes at a lower elevation. This will help your dog get used to hiking and build up their stamina before going on more difficult hikes that are higher in altitude.
After the hike
Offer your dog some water, and make sure they don’t stay in a humid environment too long. Give them plenty of petting and treats to soothe their tired muscles! Check for ticks or fleas that may have come into contact with during the hike. And congratulate them on a job well done!