Offering an abundance of fresh air, exercise, and the opportunity for exploration and adventure, hiking is undoubtedly one of the most popular activities to enjoy with your dog. Whether it is just a few hours, a full day of fun or longer, hiking is a great opportunity to bond with your dog and create some wonderful memories together. Nevertheless, exploring the great outdoors does pose some degree of risk to your dog, and as a responsible and caring owner, you will want to ensure that you both remain safe, healthy, and happy during your hike.
To help you enjoy the best trip adventure possible, here are our top tips for hiking with your dog.
Plan your hike with your dog ahead of time
Planning and preparation are everything when it comes to safety on your hike. You need to ensure that you have enough water and food supplies for the duration of your trip, plus a little extra packed in case it takes longer than you anticipated. Even a simple limp can double the anticipated length of a hike.
Choose a location that has terrain suitable for you and your pet. If you are planning on staying out overnight, plan where you will pitch your tent and make sure it is in an area deemed safe for camping. Make sure your campsite or alternative accommodation is dog-friendly, and if you are camping, keep an eye on the weather to make sure it is suitable.
Finally, it is easy to assume that dogs are allowed anywhere in the wild, but this is not always the case. You should make sure that the trails you plan on walking are suitable for dogs.
Don’t jump straight into long trails with your dog
While you may be fit enough to head off on a long hike immediately, if your canine companion isn’t used to such long walks and exercise, you will need to build his stamina up gradually. You will also need to toughen up his paw pads, which could become sore if you start him walking miles and miles over rough ground. Start with shorter hikes and gradually increase the distance. You should also throw in some hills and unusual terrain to build his confidence. If you still aren’t sure if your dog is up to a long hike, seek the advice of your vet before you plan your trip.
Pack the necessary hiking equipment for dogs
Obviously exactly what you need will depend on how far you are going and the time of year that you are hiking. However, some basic supplies that you should carry with you for the duration of your hike include:
- Collapsible water dish and enough bottled water for both of you
- High protein snacks/food
- Doggy waste bags, for when he does his business!
- A basic first aid kit
- Any medication that your dog is taking
- A suitable harness and leash
- Up-to-date ID tag and collar
Obey leash laws
It can be tempting to let our pets off the leash so that they can run free and explore. However, it is important to remember that not all people and animals will appreciate your dog having free reign. Many might become scared while some animals will respond with aggression and violence.
Make sure you aren’t breaking any local rules by obeying all leash laws and only letting your dog run free when he is in a designated off-leash area.
Watch what your dog is eating
With so many wonderful new smells and sights to enjoy, there is a good chance your dog will choose to lick and potentially eat something that he really shouldn’t. Unfortunately, there are plenty of things in the great outdoors that could cause him to become unwell, such as wild mushrooms, some plants, and even stagnant rainwater. Therefore, monitor your pet closely and if he seems too interested in something he shouldn’t eat, discourage him and distract him away immediately.
If you would like further advice and guidance on hiking with your dog, our well-informed and experienced veterinary team in Indianapolis would be happy to help. Call Bridgeview Animal Hospital today to schedule a pet wellness appointment.