For those who are active and love nature, hiking is a great experience, especially in the company of their dogs. Some people love long and challenging hikes, others prefer more relaxing ones and some people don’t even enjoy hiking at all. Well, for dogs is basically the same: it’s not for every dog and the type of hike matters. You want them to have fun and enjoy a great experience –and nature can always provide that. So, if you are planning on taking your dog with you on a hiking trip, here are some tips to make it safe and fun for you both.
1. Choose a hike within the limits of your dog’s abilities
Do some research in advance regarding regulations; not every location allows dogs. Also not every dog can handle every trail so it’s important you know how much exercise can your dog handle and start conditioning him/her before hitting difficult trails. Start increasing the distance of the walks and getting your dog used to the type of exercise some terrains require, then you can gradually build up from there. Dogs can also suffer from fatigue so make sure you stop often to rest.
2. Preparations for the hike
Before you set out, make sure your dog’s ID tags and information are up to date. It’s always better to have him/her microchipped just in case. Also make sure he/she has all the vaccinations needed and if it’s tick season, a preventive medicine can be useful.
READ MORE: 9 ITEMS TO BRING WHEN CAMPING WITH YOUR DOG
For the trip, pack a doggie bag with the following items:
- A leash
- Poo bags
- Basic first aid supplies (antibiotic cream, tweezers, arnica for wounds and bites, bandages, etc.)
- Your vet’s information and contact information of the closest emergency vet clinic
- A current picture of your dog (in case he/she gets lost)
- Enough food and water
3. To leash or not to leash. Trail etiquette
Some dogs are really well trained and behave perfectly without a leash. However, not every place allows un-leashed dogs on the trails and some hikers don’t like dogs approaching to them or to their dogs. Taking a leash with you is important to avoid uncomfortable situations and to keep your dog safe. Whether you have him/her on a leash it is still important to train him/her to respond to your commands in case you encounter a dangerous situation.
4. Hydration is very important
Dogs temperature rise faster than ours so it’s important to allow them to cool off. For a start, try avoiding the hottest parts of the day and places with little or no shade. Not only can they dehydrate but their paws can get scorched from hot rocks on the trail. Bring enough water for your dog and offer him/her constantly to drink. Even if your dog may find fresh water to drink from, it may be full of bacteria so having an alternative is very important. You can easily find collapsible bowls that are easy to carry.
5. Pack enough food for the trip
Always consider the length and level of difficulty of your trip. Even though it may be during hours when your dog usually doesn’t eat, it is important to have enough snacks and food to keep his/her energy level up. Don’t pack anything that is too heavy if the hike is short, rather have small nutritious treats that you can offer regularly.
6. Be aware of your surroundings
There are many potential dangers for your dog when you go on a hike; you can encounter either poisonous plants and mushrooms or snakes. The best way to keep your dog safe is to keep him/her on your sight. Make sure he/she doesn’t chew on plants or eat a mushroom, but in case you couldn’t prevent it, collect a sample so if your dog gets sick, the vet can identify the poison and act faster to save your dog’s life. It’s important that your dog is trained to obey a “leave it!” command, which can come in handy for plants and snakes you don’t want him/her to touch. In the worst case, if you notice any changes in behavior like excessive vomiting, diarrhea or any other signs of poisoning, take your dog to the nearest clinic as soon as possible. In many of these cases, getting immediate treatment can guaranty a successful recovery.
7. Constant check up
Every now and then check your dog for any wounds, cracked paws, ticks, etc. Don’t wait until the end of your hike, because if your dog has a small wound and you continue hiking, it may become painful soon enough. If you spot a tick, remove it immediately: those tweezers you packed will come in handy for this.
It may seem like a lot, but the same way you make sure you have all the supplies you need for yourself when you go out on a trip, it is important you do the same for your dog. Having everything you need for his/her safety will ensure your trip is enjoyable for you both.
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