If you’re an avid hiker and dog lover, you know how great it is to hit the trails with your furry friend. Hiking is a great form of exercise both for you and your canine companion. It is truly a wonderful experience to take in the beautiful scenery and watch your pooch do the same!
Of course, you’ll want to make sure the experience is a safe one for your pooch, especially if they are new to trail hiking. There are other hikers, dogs, and wild animals to be aware of, among other things, and there are definitely precautions to take before hitting the trails with your four-legged friend.
In this article, we look at a few important safety tips to consider before taking your pooch out onto the trail, to ensure that they are as safe as possible. Let’s dive in!
How to Safely Hike, Backpack, or Camp With Your Dog (The 9 Tips)
1. Make sure the trail is dog-friendly
The first thing to make sure of is whether the trail you plan on hiking allows dogs. This is important because if the trail is not designated as dog-friendly, there is usually a good reason! This could be because of dangerous wild animals, like bears, snakes, or wolves; steep rocky terrain; or treacherous cliffs that they could potentially fall off. Make sure the trail is manageable for your pooch before setting out.
2. Make sure you have the necessary gear
You’ll need to make sure you have everything that you need not only for yourself but also for your pooch. Weather out on the trail can change quickly, and it’s a good idea to bring a warm, waterproof coat for your dog in case of rain and cold. Extra water and snacks for your pooch are also essential, as you may not find any water. Physical exertion on a hot day can swiftly cause dehydration, so pack more than enough water if there is none on the trail.
3. Use a leash!
This goes without saying, but the best way to keep your dog safe in new, unfamiliar territory is to keep them on a leash at all times. The last thing that you want is for them to run off into potentially dangerous areas in pursuit of a scent, something that even the most well-trained dogs find hard to resist. Also, there may be other hikers with dogs on the trail, and you don’t want a dog fight on your hands.
4. Use tick protection
Along with having all their vaccinations up to date, you should make sure your dog has had their regular tick and flea treatment at least 12–24 hours before your hike. Hot, humid weather is the ideal environment for ticks, and any spots with long grass could leave your pooch riddled with the pests. Tick bite fever is a serious disease that can cause serious illness in dogs and can easily be fatal.
5. Take regular breaks
Even the most energetic pooch needs regular rests. The new scents, sights, and sounds can cause your dog to be overly excited, and they can easily get overheated without realizing it. Take regular breaks every half hour or so, and offer them water regularly to ensure that they are hydrated and pacing themselves properly.
6. Bring a first aid kit
This is an essential item when hitting the trails with your dog, and although you’ll rarely need it, you’ll be happy to have it when you do. There are all sorts of hazards on the trail, all of which may require quick first aid. Tweezers for pulling out thorns or pulling off ticks, antiseptic spray for cuts and wounds, bandages to cover up injuries, and even eye drops for eye injuries are all hugely helpful items to have around.
7. Bring a poop scoop!
Hiking etiquette is there for a reason: to make the experience a pleasure for all involved. It’s a good idea to bring a small “poop scoop” or spade and a poop bag to clean up after your dog, and many trails have strict clean-up policies. The last thing that you’d want when hiking is stepping in another dog’s mess, and you should aim to leave the trail the same way that you found it.
8. Make sure your dog is fit enough
Depending on the age and size of your dog and the difficulty of the trail, you should research the trail to make sure your dog is fit enough to handle it. Small dogs can have a tough time in long grass and rocky terrain. Also, keep your dog well-exercised long before you attempt any trails, to make sure you don’t push them too hard. This is especially important for puppies and senior dogs; they can tire out quickly.
9. Do a post-hike checkup
It’s a good idea to perform a thorough checkup on your pooch after getting back from the trail. Your dog is running through terrain that may be knee-high for you at most and is constantly sweeping past grass and bushes. Check them for any ticks, as well as cuts, scrapes, and injuries.
Nothing beats getting to explore the outside world with your dog. However, there are several things you want to remember besides just packing a leash. We hope this article highlighted some important tips to put into action before you hit the trails. Happy hiking!
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Featured Image Credit: dezy, Shutterstock