Summer is just around the corner and chances are both you and your four-footed friend are ready to spend some quality time outside. Hiking with your canine companion is a great way to get some exercise and share the fun being on the trail together. But like any activity you do with your dog, it’s good to familiarize yourself with the territory before you begin. The following tips, reminders, and resources will increase your chances of having a great time whenever you and Fido hit the trail!
Hiking up hill on winding, rocky paths takes a lot more energy than a flat walk of the same duration, so start out with simple hikes before taking on mountains. Watch out for surfaces your dog might be unfamiliar with, such as loose gravel paths that could cause him to slip or slide.
Distance and Duration
Consider the distance you hike, and don’t push your dog beyond his or her limit. And remember that your dog, just like you, might need to get into shape first. So start slow and increase your distance and duration gradually.
Before you head out with Fido at your side, find out if dogs are allowed on the trails you plan to hike and if they are required to be on a leash. Be sure your dog is wearing his license, rabies, and ID tags. Use “doggie bags” if the park requires them. Once on the trail, follow the “only leave footprints behind” rule. Carry out everything you carry in. Stay on the trails and respect any signs about conservation areas, endangered flora, or private property. Keep your dog from barking at and jumping on other dogs and people you meet on the trail.
Watch out for skunks, snakes, and other animals that could get your dog into trouble. The easiest way to avoid these encounters is to stay on paths. If you live in an area with ticks, apply natural tick repellent to your dog before hiking. And even though your dog won’t have an allergic reaction to poison ivy, if she walks through it, she could expose you next time you pet her. So try to keep Fido away from the infamous “leaves of three.”
Weather and Water
Check the weather forecast before you go, and if it’s going to be a hot day, bring plenty of water for you and your dog to stay hydrated. And don’t forget to bring a collapsible bowl so your dog can drink the water.
Canine Hiking Resources
Ruff Wear Dog Packs
Let Fido share the burden by carrying his own food, treats, and water. Ruff Wear manufactures three different dog packs: the Singletrak Pack, Palisades Pack, and Approach Pack. The Singletrak is a sleek, low-profile hydration pack, ideal for hikes on which you’ll need lots of water. The Palisades is a large capacity pack with saddlebags that lift off a fully functional harness and includes a two-liter hydration system. It’s perfect for backpacking as well as multi-day camping trips. The Approach Pack is a versatile multi-use recreational pack perfect for day hikes. ruffwear.com
Pet Naturals of Vermont’s Protect Flea & Tick Repellent
Pet Naturals of Vermont makes a great natural flea and tick repellent inspired by formulas used for centuries by the indigenous people of the Amazon forest. It is available as a spray and as wipes. petnaturals.com
Hike With Your Dog Website
The hikewithyourdog.com website identifies the best places to hike with your dog in America and Canada, including many spectacular lesser-known locations. hikewithyourdog.com