You and your pup both need fresh air each day, but going on the same walks can get a little boring. The next time you think about going on an adventure, you should try taking your favorite pooch on a hiking trip. However, before you grab the leash, there are a few you need to consider. Here are some hiking tips for a successful doggy hike, from the experts at Kurgo!
By Kaitlyn Manktelow @Kurgo, the dog adventure experts
Everyone Should be in Good Health and Shape
A mountain wasn’t built in a day, and if your dog isn’t in shape, it won’t be climbed in a day either. It is important to know your dog’s fitness level and be honest with yourself about it. There may be a hike you have been wanting to do, but just because it is a cool hike, and you are physically capable of doing it, doesn’t mean your pup is. When planning hikes, look at the terrain and difficulty level, is it something your dog can do? Or does it seem to hard?
Climate and temperature are two very important things to keep in mind. Did you know your dog can’t sweat? Unlike humans, canines have no way to sweat, releasing heat from panting only. This puts your dog at high risk for overheating, especially if they are exerting themselves in warm weather. Brachycephalic breeds, dogs with short snouts like Bulldogs or Pugs, have trouble breathing during exercise and this can get worse in warm climates. It is always important to consult your vet before beginning any sort of physical exercise with your pup.
Bring Along a Pet-Specific First Aid Kit
When hiking, there is always the chance of encountering something you or your dog wouldn’t typically encounter every day. Because of this, it is important to have a first-aid kit specifically geared towards dogs. This will allow you to treat any burns, cuts, bites or sprains your dog may receive while on your adventure. Many of them also come with guides on how to administer CPR to your pup or how to treat poisoning. It is important to note that dogs can’t take many of the same medications that humans can. Even with pet-friendly medicine, it is important to consult a professional about the correct dosage your dog needs.
Plan Your Adventure in Advance
Just because a trail seems like it would be perfect for your pup, doesn’t mean it is. Many national parks and trails don’t allow dogs. It is important to check ahead of time because it can lead to a heavy fine if you’re caught. For hiking trails in North America, check out Kurgo’s Hiking with Dogs Guides, BringFido.com or Hikewithyourdog.com.
Obey ALL Leash Laws
Many owners have dogs that are great off the leash and won’t wander or stray from their owners. Even if this is the case, many hiking trails make it illegal to allow your dog off-leash. Besides the expensive tickets you could be given for breaking these laws, there are other factors as to why it is important to keep your dog on a leash. Some people are very afraid of dogs, it doesn’t matter if your pup is the friendliest dog around, it is still a fear many people have. Also, if your dog is off-leash but a fellow hiker has an aggressive dog on a leash, your dog being off leash can trigger issues of dominance over the other dog.
Many places require that the leash be 6 inches or less. Using a hiking dog leash like the Quantum Leash can allow you to alternate the length of the lead from 6 inches to 3, allowing you to have more control over your pup. It is also a hands-free leash that can attach around your waist or over your shoulder, making hiking easier for all parties involved.
Many hiking trails and paths will have off-leash designated areas. If you want to use a space like this, it is important to be honest with your dog’s training. If your dog only sometimes listens to voice commands, this may not be the best idea for your pup, especially if there are other pets around.
Be Sure to Pack the Essentials
Nothing is worse than being almost to the top of a mountain, only to realize you forgot something important. To help avoid that stressful scenario, we created a list of things you won’t want to forget.
- Water: With any exercise, hydration is important for everyone. But, for pups who can’t sweat, this is a huge necessity, which is why it is imperative to bring enough water for both you and your pup. Base the amount of water you will need on how long and vigorous the hike is, as well as the temperature outside. Using a Collaps-a-bowl means you can easily store a bowl in your or your pup’s backpack.
- Sunscreen: Dogs are prone to getting sunburnt, especially on their nose, where their skin is more sensitive. Bringing sunscreen can prevent your dog from getting badly burnt. This is another circumstance where it is important to consult a veterinarian on which products would be best for your dog.
- Proper Apparel: We’ve all seen pictures on social media of dogs in sweaters or dressing up for Halloween, but that’s not the kind of clothing we mean. If your dog has a thin or short coat, using a rain or winter jacket can keep him/her warm while on colder weather hikes. For the warm, sunny hikes, use a cooling vest for your dog, which will cool them down and keep them from overheating by sweating for your dog. There are countless videos of dogs sliding around when they first start wearing dog shoes, and many of these pups hate them. However, having your furry friend wear them, can protect their paws from extreme temperatures and the rough terrain that go along with some hiking trails.
- Food: Hiking can be an intense workout, leaving both you and your pup ravenous after burning all those calories. If your hike is a few days long, be sure to pack enough dog food to keep your pup satisfied. If it is only a day hike, bringing apples or carrots that are good for both you and your dog can provide for a healthy, filling snack!
- Dog Bags: Did you know that not cleaning up after your dog goes beyond being rude to fellow hikers? Your dog’s waste is foreign, meaning the bacteria can be harmful and disrupt habitats, local wildlife, and even water supplies. Bring along enough dog bags, for your hike.
Still feeling like something is missing? Take a look at this detailed Dog Hiking Checklist.
After the Hike, Check Your Dog Over
After finishing the hike, you both will be tired, and rightfully so! But before hopping in the car to go home and soak in a warm bath, be sure to check your dog over carefully. Check for any ticks, burrs, rashes or burns that your dog may have picked up or gotten on the hike. Not only will this prevent your dog from being sick, if you don’t notice it till later; you are also taking care of the problem before bringing it home with you.
Interested in going to a National Park with your pup, but don’t know which ones are dog-friendly? Check out this article on Dog-Friendly National Parks.
About Kaitlyn Manktelow – Kaitlyn is a writer and videographer for Kurgo, a dog travel and outdoor products company. She enjoys filming, traveling, and singing way too loud with her rescue dog Samuel Jackson.