Hiking is a fantastic way to enjoy nature and exercise with your dog. On the hiking trail, you can truly bond together, away from distractions. Embrace the innate beauty of nature, and feel the fresh air and the terrain beneath your feet. However, it’s important to keep in mind the safety of your pet along the trail.
While hiking with your dog, ensure their safety – especially if they’re always active or already uncomfortable. Take frequent water breaks, be careful about what you dog eats or drinks. It’s recommended to leash them to keep them close to you. Bring some items, like a first aid kit, for emergency purposes.
Taking your dog on your hiking adventures is a perfect means to spend time outside — but of course, you need to understand and familiarize yourself with the hiking etiquette. So, if you enjoy hiking with your furry buddy and you’re looking for tips that will answer your questions and concerns, you’re at the right place.
We’ve gathered the best tips and advice from other hikers that surely will assist your needs in knowing what to do with your dog before going and while on the trail. Let’s check it out.
Whether you’re going on a quick day hike with your pet or a multi-day backpacking trip with your friends, you’ll need a reliable hiking backpack to help you carry and store your hiking gear. If you’re not sure about which pack you should get, check out our article about the best hiking backpacks to see which ones are our favorites.
Best tips for hiking with your dog
Hiking is a safe activity, but only if you know what to do while on the trail. Keeping your dog active and safe from dangers are some of the many tips we recommend while on the trail. If you want to know more, check the tips below to guide and prepare you for your hiking trip.
Keep your dog leashed and under control
While hiking, your pet should always be within eye- and ear-shot, whether the trail requires leashes or not. There is always a risk that your pet runs into or jump up onto other hikers, or even out of bound areas. Even if you’re sitting safely at a campsite, your dog should not be allowed to roam freely.
Make sure you teach the basic obedience skills, which are “come,” “sit,” and “stay.” In our article, “Dog Hiking Trail Etiquette: Off-leash and On-leash Tips,” we have detailed all the things that you should know to train your dog both on-leash and off-leash.
Ensure your dog is well-mannered
Manners and strict training are necessary to have the best experience with your hiking buddy. Even the most obedient dogs can ignore voices and commands when something has caught their attention. Therefore, let them take the lead, so you can keep them close to you and safe.
Maintain your dog’s energy levels
When hiking, it’s important not to give your dog a big meal on the morning of your hike to ensure they have enough time to digest. Feed your dog alternatively, this will help them exert an even amount of energy throughout the hike, and will lessen the chance of grazing on scraps they might find along the trail.
Know your dog’s limits
Dogs will always want to please their owners and won’t stop unless you do. So, make sure they’re not overexerting and take frequent breaks or head back down if needed.
Watch closely for signs of potential sickness or discomfort, like panting heavily or slowing down. Consider giving them a long rest or heading back down the trail if it happens.
Keep your dog unheated
Keep your dog cool while on the trail. Avoid hiking at the hottest time of the day if possible. Dogs can’t sweat to cool down as we do. Moreover, there are risks, like heat strokes or heat exhaustion, when they’re overexposed to sunlight.
Bear in mind to frequently stop for water breaks. Ensure that your dog doesn’t drink water from lakes or rivers, as it contains harmful contaminants that can be fatal to dogs.
Take frequent rest breaks
Make sure to stop frequently along the trail to offer your dog water and occasional treats. Feed them at least one hour before or 30 minutes after hiking. Your dog could get sick if you feed them right before or after hiking.
Keep your dog hydrated and safe around water sources
It’s important to keep dogs hydrated and safe around water sources while on the trail. Don’t allow your dog to drink from unsafe water or swim in. Your dog might get sick due to harmful parasites or bacteria present in the water.
If you don’t have access to safe and clean water, bring along a water purifier or pack plenty of water bottles.
Keep an eye out for anything your dog might ingest
If you see your dog chewing on something, make sure you figure out what it is. Mushrooms, pinecones, animal waste, and other things dogs could eat on a trail can put your pet in danger as some of them can be very dangerous—even deadly.
Respect the wildlife
Don’t let your dog stray off the trail to chase animals or run through foliage or in water. The natural fauna and flora will need to be protected from your pet’s enthusiasm and curiosity. Be reminded that some plants are poisonous, and some creatures bite back and may host dangerous viruses or diseases.
Keep your dog away from wild animals
Dogs are naturally playful. Your pet may encounter other wild animals while out on a hike. Wild animals, such as mountain lions, porcupines, coyotes, snakes, bears, and other predators may put your dog into trouble.
Leash your dog immediately if you spot or hear any signs of potentially dangerous wild animals.
Beware of trail hazards
Dehydration, sunburns, heatstroke or heat exhaustion, water contamination, and poisonous plants can cause trouble and health issues for your dog during hikes.
Keep the weather in mind before bringing your dog onto the trail. If it’s too hot, don’t take the risk. Allow your dog to take a water break frequently, but don’t let it ingest any untreated water from any water sources around the trail. Finally, keep an eye out, as they might cross or intake any poisonous plants, like poison ivy.
Consider a pet first aid kit
Pets can easily get into mischief on a trail. Every hiker must know the importance of taking good care of their dog to prevent injuries. Keeping a small first aid kit can help you treat sprains, gashes, bites, burns, or any minor injury your pup might suffer along the way. it’s always best to be prepared than let your hiking buddy suffer.
Leave no trace
When hiking, it’s important to carry poop and disposable bags in your pack. It’s your responsibility to keep the space clean and leave no trace of yourself nor your dog behind. So, clean up!
This practice is often a strict rule with dog-friendly routes and is known as ‘trail etiquette.’
Always do a pup check
After the hike, always check your dog’s whole body for ticks, cuts, and burns when you get back to your car. If you find a tick, remove it carefully, and place it in a sealed bag to take to your vet. If you were out for quite a while and your dog got very dirty, a post-hike doggie bath is a good way to check for ticks and injuries, and prevent skin allergies that pop up occasionally.
Interested in going on a hike with your furry companion? Check out our article where we answered 20 common questions about hiking with a dog to know whether this activity is perfect for you and your buddy.
Tips before hitting the trail with your furry companion
Here are a few tips that you should keep in mind before you hit the trails with your dog. Following these tips will help you ensure the safety of your pet and that both of you will enjoy your hike.
1. Plan your trip
The first thing you should do before going on a hike is planning. Decide where you wish to hike and check if dogs are allowed. Plan out everything like what would be the essential hiking gear you’ll need to secure? Is your dog capable and physically healthy, and at the right age to hit the trail? Have you consulted your vet yet? What are the things you need to consider before going to hike?
2. Prepare for your trip
Before hitting the trail with your dog, you must prepare for your trip. Pack everything you need for yourself and your dog. For instance, bring sufficient food and water for the both of you, a sleeping mat, blanket, towel, first aid kit, dog water bottle, disposable bag, sunscreen, etc.
3. Make sure your dog is physically ready
Hiking is a strenuous activity that should not be undertaken by dogs that can’t handle the rigorous activity. So, it’s a good idea to train it well in advance. Start with short walks with a light pack on the back, then build up little by little. This approach helps toughen up citified paws and builds your dog’s stamina.
Consult with your vet, brush up on obedience training and trail etiquette, pick appropriate trails, and build up your dog’s stamina.
4. Pack plenty of dog supplies
It’s better to bring too much than too little, even if your goal is to pack lightly. Here’s a list of items to carry with you for your dog:
- Hiking boots or socks and clothing for your dog
- Dog’s medication and first aid kit
- Water bottles or bowls
- A jacket or raincoat
- Canine sunscreen
- Disposable waste bags
- Food and treats
- A leash or harness
- Pet insect repellent
- A dog tag with contact information or collar with GPS
- A whistle
5. Know the trail regulations and conditions
Know and learn the rules of the place where you take your dog as well. Choose a dog-friendly hiking trail, as some national and state parks don’t allow dogs on their trail systems even if you keep them on a leash.
Also, always check the trail conditions, so that you can ensure your dog’s safety on the trail. Is it jagged? Or slippery? Is it too hot or is there not enough shade?
6. Dog’s clothing
Check the conditions where you are headed and determine what kinds of clothing your dog might need, such as rugged boots, a raincoat, and a bandana.
A bandana will help others identify your dog as a pet and can be used as a bandage if needed. Booties can protect your dog’s paws in abrasive trail conditions. A jacket will help keep short-haired dogs warm on winter hikes.
Keep these items on hand to prepare for adverse weather conditions and certain special activities.
Concerned if your dog can handle the physical and mental stress of a hike? In our article, “How to Prepare for A Hike with Your Dog,” we have expanded the tips that are mentioned above and listed down the items that you need to bring for a stress-free trip.
Hiking with your dog can be a rewarding experience for both of you. Along with providing exercise and enjoying nature, you’ll be spending quality time together. Be sure to plan everything out and be vigilant and prepared while on the trail.
Therefore, always secure everything you’ll need to consider – from planning to rules, safety precautions, risks, and health issues, up to essential items to pack. After all, your dog’s safety is your top priority in this outdoor activity.