Written by 5:59 pm Animal, Hiking, How To

Mother Nature’s Best Friend: a Guide to Hiking With Your Dog

Today’s post is brought to us by Johanes Godoy, digital storyteller and the founder of Wanderera. Be sure to check out her blog for some great recommendations on international travel!

Hiking is a fun and thrilling experience especially when you finally see the breathtaking view on top. So what could be a better idea than bringing your dog along?

With them quickly jumping up and tails excitedly wagging just from hearing the word ‘walk’, it would definitely be a treat for them to see more than parks and sidewalks from your neighborhood. 

But before you leave your house and start traveling towards your favorite hiking trail, it’s best to be prepared first.

Here’s some tips you can follow for a safe and enjoyable hiking experience with your dog.

Before the Hike

Hiking with your dog isn’t as simple as taking her for a walk. But if you want the both of you to have more adventures together, this would definitely be worth it.

There are some questions to clear first before planning your trip. Some of these are:

Is this your first time hiking?

If you usually practice a regular fitness routine, building up you and your dog’s stamina and endurance should be the first things to work on.

You may feel discouraged to continue the hike after losing your breath from just a few minutes of hiking. Worse, it could even give minor to serious injuries to you or your dog.

Start by taking short routine walks on flat or uneven terrain with your pup while gradually increasing the distance. You can bring some weights to act as your hiking equipment too!

Did you get the OK from the Vet?

Your dog may look healthy and fit from the outside, but any underlying illnesses may be needed to be sorted out first before the hike.

Moreover, your dog may no longer be able to handle long hikes due to her age. 

A visit to the Vet would also prepare our furbaby with the needed vaccinations prior to the trip. So make sure this is checked before the trip!

Deciding on the Destination

For both you and your dog to enjoy the trip, choosing a hiking destination should be carefully considered. Not all areas are dog-friendly, so make sure to make some research before then.

Make sure to take note of the following:

Trails with sharp rocks. Our pup’s paws may be tougher than the soles on our feet, but having sharp rocks lying around would definitely injure our energetic dog. 

Extreme temperature. Walking on too hot or cold ground would also hurt your dog’s paws. As much as using dog boots would keep them safe from injuries when hiking, make sure that your dog is comfortable wearing it so she can also enjoy the trip. 

Overly-steep slopes. Despite how fit a dog can be, hiking on overly-steep slopes could be hard for their body. This is because most of their weight would focus on their hind legs, putting more strain in it than it should be.

Hiking Must-Haves

Now that you’ve chosen a trail for your first hike with your dog, it’s time to check on your backpack must-haves.

Water

Staying hydrated is important, especially on a long hike. If there are no water stations available nearby your trail, it’s best to bring enough water for both you and your dog to last for the duration of the hike plus a bit more for unforeseen circumstances. 

Backpack

Having your dog carry her own backpack would help you lessen the weight you’re carrying during the hike. This also separates your belongings to hers, making it easier to find items when needed. To make her feel more comfortable, make sure that the bag you pick would be right for your dog’s size and to only put enough weight that she could carry. 

Some things to put in her backpack are:

  • Dog food
  • Dog treats
  • Bottled water
  • Collapsible feeding and drinking bowls
  • Waste bags and pooper scooper

Dog boots

We wouldn’t be so sure if a hiking trail is really safe or not. After all, when we walk around nature, there would definitely be sharp rocks and branches lying around. To make sure our furbaby is safe from injuries, investing in some dog boots can be a right choice!

Dog Harness

During your hiking trip, it’s best to keep them on a leash to make sure they won’t playfully destroy plants or scare people away. Worse, they may even wander too much and fall into cliffs! To ensure everyone’s safety, having your dog wear a sturdy dog harness for hiking is greatly recommended.

First aid kit

If you think a first aid kit isn’t necessary for just a few hours day hike, better think twice. Many things could happen in just a short period and we wouldn’t want to be helpless when our pup mostly needed it. 

And as much as our first aid kit would contain similar items for their first aid kit, it’s best to keep your kits separate. We never know if both of you would be needing it at the same time.

Here’s some things that should be included in your dog’s first aid kit:

  • Regular medications your dog needs to take
  • Contact info of your dog’s vet
  • Your dog’s medical records (proofs of vaccinations and health certificates)
  • Antibacterial and antiseptic wipes
  • Spare ID tag
  • Tick-removal tool
  • Saline solution
  • Fur-friendly bandages
  • Gauze and tape
  • Scissors and tweezers
  • Antibiotic ointment

Most importantly, you should bring a first aid guide especially when this would be your first time doing it. 

On the Trail

We’re finally well-packed and ready to hit the trail. But it isn’t over yet.

As respect to people you are hiking with and will be passing the same trial in the future, it is important that your pup stays behaved throughout the trip. 

Here’s some basic etiquette to follow while on the trail:

  • Keep your dog well-heeled when a person passes near. We never know if the person feels uncomfortable with dogs and would rather keep the distance.

 

  • Make sure your dog doesn’t destroy any plants, flowers, and nesting areas used by wild animals living in the area.
  • To ensure you won’t get lost, never let your dog wander too far away from you, even when on a leash. Taking shortcuts is a big no-no as well.
  • Do not just dispose waste bags on the side of the trail. Wait until you find a trash can or a disposal area and discard it there.
  • When crossing paths with other hikers on a narrow road, step aside and let them through first.

While it could take a lot of focus and attention trying to keep things in check, make sure to keep hydrated too. 

More over, a few treats for your pooch would be okay every now and then – just make sure to not overfeed her as this would be bad while doing a rigorous activity such as hiking.

Also, don’t forget to look at the view during the hike! You’re there to relax and enjoy nature after all.

After the Hike

After an enjoyable hike, it’s important to check your pup everywhere.

She may not be feeling it now, but we shouldn’t be too lenient with simple cuts or insect bites. After all, an infection worsens when it isn’t cleaned ASAP.

Check your dog for any ticks, bites, or any other injuries. Make sure she didn’t ingest anything aside from the ones you’ve packed.

In addition, be extra observant if she’s showing some discomfort. Call her vet when necessary.

Make sure they get back to their livelier, healthier self through food, water, and rest. 

If everything’s all good and both you and your pooch enjoyed your hiking trip together, maybe it’s time to look for another destination. Wouldn’t that be exciting?

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