Hiking with dogs is one of most backpackers’ and dog parents’ favorite outdoor activities. Most campers say that hiking is an ideal way [...]
How to Prepare for A Hike with Your Dog
Published: July 15, 2021
Hiking is an extreme type of adventure. Not all people have the endurance to prolong in this activity. So how about if bringing your dog? Are they capable of tolerating such a journey?
To prepare your dog for hiking, you should first know if they are capable of engaging in such activity. If they can, train their stamina and reliable recall. You should also pack their essentials, like water, high-protein dog foods, and a first aid kit. Gear up your dogs with the needed stuff.
Those are just some of the tips and techniques we will discuss. We have categorized them into three topics: Things to know before hiking with your dog, Preparing your dog before a hike, and 10 essential things to bring on a hike with your dog.
Now, let’s proceed.
Things to know before hiking with your dog
Before you hike with your dog, learn the trail etiquette and their capabilities. Look for a dog-friendly place for hiking, train your dog’s endurance, and pack their essentials. Lastly, observe proper disposal of their waste.
- Know if your dog can adapt to a hiking activity
Usually, people train their dogs before engaging in the activity. Just like humans, some dogs are capable of adventures, but some aren’t. Therefore, you should go get your dog checked by a veterinarian and know what their potential is.
Even though there is endurance training for them, we can’t ensure the happenings. Some dogs are not physically fit or may be too young to travel. Not only dogs with Brachycephalic breeds or “short-haired” dogs, like pugs and Pekingese, cannot endure heat well.
In our article, “Factors to Consider If Your Dog Can Hike,” we have listed down the factors that you need to consider before bringing your dog with you on a hike. Additionally, we mentioned in the article the common dangers and threats that you and your dog might encounter along the road.
- Look for a hiking place that is appropriate for dogs
Not all hiking places can be your ideal spot for hiking with your dog. So, find a dog-friendly location to avoid accidents and harm for the both of you. Don’t go to spots with extreme terrains and obstacles because dogs may not be able to withstand it.
Always be attentive to your dog before deciding on a place. Guarantee that they can endure the terrains. There are possibilities that they may not be able to survive some spots that people can, so you better not exhaust them.
Some points you should remember:
- We suggest you go to places with soft terrains and a lot of trees
- Don’t go to areas with rocky grounds
- Avoid spots where the temperatures may increase
- Avoid paths that are made for cyclists
- Train your dog’s physical condition and endurance
You must prepare your dog’s physical condition before you let them hike with you. They might be trained properly but they may not tolerate hiking. Therefore, go out and strengthen their bodies so that they will be more energized.
The way you prepare a dog’s physical condition is similar to the way humans do it. It will require exercises for the body to get used to the activity. We will be talking more about the preparation on the next topic.
- Observe trail etiquettes
Specifically for you and your dog. Few etiquettes are commonly observed on the trail.
These are some:
- Always leash your dog. Although it is good to give them the freedom to explore on their own, we recommend you to keep them in your control. They can bite other hikers or run away. Adjust your dog’s leash to a maximum length of 10 feet.
- Give way to other hikers. Dogs sometimes have unexpected reactions. If you see some hikers coming, step out of the path to prevent your dog from jumping on them.
- Communicate with others. Some people are pet-friendly and tend to touch dogs automatically. Since you are the owner, let them know about your dog’s behavior and extend that message to your dog as well.
- If possible, only bring one dog. The best ratio is 1:1, which means one dog is to one person. If you know that you can’t manage two dogs, don’t carry them alone. Look for another person to carry the other one.
- Follow the Leave No Trace principle. No matter what you are doing, always observe this. Let’s just be responsible and protect nature. For example, to prevent your dog from drinking still water on the trail. Leave it as it is.
- Respect wildlife. Don’t let your dogs chase any animals around your hiking area. This also covers the Leave No Trace principle, but we would like to stress this.
- If your dog is not leashed, leash them if another dog is coming.
- Don’t go off-trail.
- Learn how to dispose of your dog’s poop
Don’t ever leave your dog’s waste anywhere. This is part of the Leave No Trace principle’s coverage. Learn how to dispose of it properly without affecting the surroundings.
We suggest you either pack it then throw it when you get home or bury it. Burying is good for camping. Bear in mind that you should bury the waste 200 feet from natural water resources, camping sites, and roads to avoid negative effects on nature.
Never forget the fundamentals of the principle. It is a practice for nature to leave it unchanged or untouched. Waste material, either natural or synthetic, can greatly affect the surroundings. Thus, you should avoid leaving anything following the Leave No Trace principle.
- Be knowledgeable about the hazards that you may encounter
Be careful and remember these:
- This can affect the temperature of the place. Too cold and too hot can be a threat to your pet. Don’t forget to bring extra water.
- If possible, don’t go too far if you plan only for a day hike. They may not be able to withstand the activity. Check up on them from time to time.
- Accidental fall. Just avoid high terrains, and if you need to climb a bit, use a harness or anything of the sort to carry them. Help them with those obstacles.
- Insects and other animals. Insect bites can be dangerous, so prevent those. Another threat is wild animals. This is more threatening for the both of you than just insects.
- Your dog can swallow poisonous plants, so keep them away from any plants.
- As we previously mentioned, just prevent them from drinking stagnant water on the trail. It can be contaminated with dangerous elements.
- Off-trail. Follow the path of the place. Don’t wander far from the scope of the hiking spot you chose.
- Pack dog essentials
Not only do we need some materials and essentials when hiking. Dogs also require gears, food, and water. Arm your dog with a complete backpack so that you can also have something to grab in case of an emergency. We will further discuss dogs’ essentials on the next topics.
Preparing your dog before a hike
Hiking requires exertion so you should train your dog’s stamina and endurance first. Train them with reliable recall and have them checked by a veterinarian. Before you proceed to the hiking place, make sure that they are properly geared and armed with their needs. Monitor them regularly when you hike.
Is your dog ready for a hike? Our article, “How To Train Your Dog For A Hike” has listed down our 15 training tips for your dog. By following these simple tricks, you can minimize the dangers that you might encounter during your trip.
- Expand your dog’s stamina and endurance
Hiking is a strenuous activity, even for us, humans. Although dogs bear capabilities that humans don’t, we can still endure exertion when hiking. One useful tip, before hiking, is to exercise or condition the body. This goes the same way for dogs.
Go out with your dog for a walk or jog. The more days you train, the better and more effective you get. Ensure that both of you are indeed getting the right cardio exercise. As you go along with your body conditioning, increase the distance of your jogs.
- Gear them up
Get them the right gear for protection and loads. Some backpacks are created mainly for dogs. However, be cautious of the heaviness of the pack you let them carry. Avoid them carrying more than 20 percent of their own weight.
It is good that you also train them with their backpacks. When you plan to exercise with them, let your dogs wear the filled pack. This way, they can practice their carriage for the actual real hiking adventure.
- Train reliable recall and good behavior
It is truly impressive if you can train your dog through recall. In some instances, you will need to call them. So, if you accidentally let go of your dog’s leash, you can just use the recall technique.
This method is also effective if you are with them off-leash. It’s just easy to manage and control them. To properly train your dog, use some treats while training them. When you call them, they will always think that they’ll be rewarded afterward.
- Have your dog checkup
Let your veterinarian check them before you hike. Talk to them about the complete vaccinations for dogs. They are like humans who need protection against illnesses and other health-threatening factors.
Hiking places are commonly isolated. Both of you are vulnerable to anything that surrounds you. Since heat is also harmful to them, shield your dog with sunscreen. Another tip is to cut their fingernails as it can cause accidents or any foot difficulties when traveling for a long period.
- Monitor your dog
Check them from time to time. Observe if they need to rest, and hydrate them depending on the temperature of the hiking place. Dogs can’t speak our language or say that they are exhausted. It is our responsibility to keep track of their necessities.
We advise you shouldn’t compare your tolerance to your dog. If you can walk and climb for hours, maybe they cannot. Prevent them from experiencing overexertion, as it will lead to worse results.
- Observe and familiarize yourself with the hiking place
Even if you already researched the place, you should familiarize yourself with the specific areas. Some spots may be ideal for dogs, but there are also unexpectedly a threat for them. Terrains are not man-made, and they can irregularly bear surfaces with sharp rocks, which are harmful to your dog.
You can contact the place before deciding whether to go there or elsewhere. Ask them about the rules and the areas you shouldn’t go to in order to avoid problems. With such, you can plan your whole day itinerary without being anxious if you are heading to a safe spot.
- Observe the leash regulations
As we mentioned, prioritize the path of the hikers without dogs. If possible, leash your dog all the time to prevent them from suddenly jumping on anyone. You can remove your dog’s leash but ensure that they are well-trained and that there are no other people around.
In the place you chose, some hikers will also probably bring their dogs. If you see them coming, leash your dog. This is to avoid them from attacking each other. Again, they are unexpected, so you better be safe than sorry.
10 essential things to bring on a hike with your dog
Pack up dry dog food with high protein and freshwater. Don’t forget to bring a pet cooling pad, first-aid kits, waste bags, and dog brushes to remove ticks. Let them carry a dog backpack. They should wear a collar and tags with contact details so in case you lose them, you can be contacted immediately.
Of course, dogs need to eat to gain energy. Prioritize this as they may get hungry anytime. Bring dog food with high protein or fat because this is known to give energy. For your advantage, choose dry dog food. Wet food can leak and is heavier, so select what’s fitting.
Let them drink according to the temperature of the place. For large-sized dogs, you can let them drink an ounce per pound of their weight. Small dogs with a maximum weight of 20 pounds will need 1.5 ounces per pound. And average-sized dogs will need half a gallon. All of these measurements apply for the whole day of travel.
- First-aid kit for dogs
We cannot predict what will happen, so prepare a first-aid kit for your dogs. They can also experience blisters or accidental cuts because of the terrains. Before you go, pack bandages, ointments, and every medicine that is intended to treat a dog’s wounds.
For insect repellent, some substances can be used for your dog. Get one of these to prevent any kinds of insect bites. You can apply this to their fur before you proceed to your hike.
- Pet cooling pad
This is undoubtedly needed when hiking. By using this, you can let them relax when taking a break. Heat can be very difficult for them to withstand. Aside from this, you can also choose other equipment that can alleviate the heat. Note that they have a different heat resistance from us.
- Waste bags
Following the Leave No Trace principle, it is best to carry your puppy’s poop in and out of a bag. Bring some poop bags to collect your dog’s waste. Don’t leave this anywhere around the hiking place. Throw it in the proper disposal areas when you go home.
- Dog boots and brushes
Or socks. This apparel can protect their feet or paws. You will be traveling a long way, and it can harm their paws. Friction can cause problems with their feet, prevent further trouble to encounter, and gear them up with booties.
Another material is a dog comb. Insects can stick to your dog’s fur for a whole day of wandering around. Bringing brushes or comb can help you remove these easily. Dog ticks are also dangerous and can result in Lyme disease if ignored.
The suggested leash has a maximum length of 10 feet. If you already have a long leash, bring an extra short one. Your leashes should have a handle. Also, pack a harness because you will definitely need it when climbing.
- Dog backpack
Don’t just carry all of your things alone. You can let your dog carry some of your stuff. Apart from your pack, you can bring a backpack version made specifically for dogs. However, avoid overpacking them and just minimize their loads.
Dog collars are used to attach the leash. However, if you hang them with tags, they can be used to identify the name of your dog and your contact details. If you lost your dog, people can easily determine the name of the owner and contact you immediately. It’s a substantial technique that is generally practiced by owners everywhere.
Lightsticks can be an alternative as well. Lights are very useful when you are already heading back at dusk. Bring some of these, and hang them somewhere in their pack so that they can see the terrain when it’s getting dark.
Before you decide to go on a hike with your dog, make sure both of you are prepared. Don’t just immediately plan all of it then proceed the next day. Train yourselves to increase your stamina and endurance.
Another important factor you should bear in mind is whether your dog is capable of traveling. This is the first thing you should check with a veterinarian. Before all of the plans, know if you can bring them with you.