A Beginner's Guide to Hiking With Your Dog

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A Beginner's Guide to Hiking With Your Dog

Hiking is a great way to explore places you won’t be able to access when driving in your car. It also allows you to admire nature up close. And if you bring your four-legged pal with you, hiking allows you to create a unique and memorable experience you both can share. 

Whether you take a short trail or unbeaten paths, hiking is a wonderful activity for everyone. You can find a lot of options to suit your experience and physical ability. However, even if you are only taking an easy trail, you need to make some preparations so you and your beloved pet can stay safe during your walk. If this is the first time you’ll be hiking with your dog, here’s a beginner’s guide you can refer to before heading out.

Make Sure Your Pup Is Fit for the Hike

Before you go for a hike, consider the physical fitness of your dog. Young and older pups don’t have the same energy as other canines in their prime and they might not be able to handle the trail length you have chosen. Be mindful of your furry pal’s limits and don’t push them to exhaustion. If you start to notice your canine friend lying down or panting intensely, slow down your pace and allow them to cool off. In some instances, these can also be signs that you need to turn around and head to the veterinarian. 

Another preparation you can do before hiking is to consult your veterinarian about the healthy distance for your dog. This way, you can avoid emergency trips to the pet clinic. You can also start walking your pet around the block to slowly build up its endurance. Once it has become accustomed to the activity, take your dog for a short hike and gradually increase the distance so your pup can enjoy hiking safely. 

Pack Ample Food and Water

When you are out for a hike, remember to bring plenty of water for you and your furry friend. Since dogs don’t sweat in the way that humans do and their bodies are covered in fur, anything they secrete gets trapped in their coat and doesn't evaporate—failing to cool them down. This puts them at risk of overheating. To prevent this from happening to your precious pup, bring an ample supply of clean water.

Since water from streams and lakes can contain bacteria and parasites that can make your pet very sick, it’s not safe to let your pup drink from these water sources. So, it’s best to pack clean water as well as some dog treats to keep your pet’s energy levels up during the hike. When you prepare for the hike, remember to bring a bowl your dog can safely drink and eat from. You can also order a customizable collapsible dog bowl that you can easily fold and tote along without weighing you down.  

While you are looking out for your dog’s needs, you shouldn’t neglect your own. Pack a couple of snacks and enough water for yourself to avoid dehydration. You’ll also have a more enjoyable time with your pup if your tummy isn’t rumbling from hunger.

Obey Hike Rules

When looking up pet-friendly hike trails, make sure to check out the rules of the place as well. Many trails have different policies and they can change frequently so it’s important to call ahead. Once you have confirmed park rules, make sure to abide by them including leash regulations for dogs.

Although you may want to let your canine friend roam free outdoors, some hikers you meet might be afraid of dogs or have a pet that can get aggressive towards yours. Also, keeping your pup on a leash prevents them from running after wildlife. For your pup’s safety, it’s best to follow park requirements. 

Bring a First Aid Kit

You never know what’s going to happen during your hike. Even if your dog is leashed and keeps away from wild animals, your pup might become too playful and get hurt. Similarly, you might stumble into minor accidents so it’s good to be prepared by carrying a first aid kit. Many kits intended for humans will contain supplies that both you and your dog can use to treat small injuries like cuts, bruises, and abrasions.

Also, you can bring compression tapes and booties in case you need to wrap injured paws. If you are packing any medication such as antihistamine for insect bites and allergic reactions, ask your vet about the proper dosage to give to your dog. Aside from bringing a first aid kit, you also need to know how to use its contents beforehand. It can be aggravating if you still need to read through the instructions in an emergency.

Hiking with your pet is a fantastic way to create new memories. It also allows you to discover new places with your precious pup. While your dog is a beloved member of your family, remember that it has different needs from your own. So before you go hiking, make sure you prepare everything you and your canine companion will need. This way, you can ensure you both have a safe and enjoyable time outdoors. 

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