Hiking is one of my all-time favorite activities. Scaling mountains and walking through massive forests is a feeling like no other. Getting out in nature allows you to time to destress, enjoy nature, and get some fresh air. While hiking alone can be invigorating, hiking with a partner can make the whole experience even better. Your dog could be your ideal hiking partner with the right preparation! I mean, they are already your best friend anyway. Just make sure that you follow these tips for hiking with your dog in order to ensure that your furry friend is prepared to take this journey with you.
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1. Bring Enough Water
Out of all of the tips for hiking with your dog, this one is the most important. Bring enough water for your dog. Dehydration is killer, and you don’t want to risk your dog’s health by not bringing enough water for them. Take into account the heat, the distance being hiked, how much water your dog normally drinks, and how long you will be gone in order to find the right amount of water to bring. In general, I would recommend bringing at least double the amount of water they would normally drink at home during the same time frame. This dog hydration calculator can also be helpful if you have no idea how much water to consider bringing.
2.Take Regular Breaks
One of the things that people forget to do is take regular breaks! Remember that your furry friend may be quicker than you, but their legs are shorter and they have to take more steps to cover the same ground as you. Be aware that your dog may need to take more frequent breaks than you, even if they seem to be just fine. As a rule, if you are tired, they are most definitely tired. Allow adequate time in your schedule for rest breaks.
3. Bring First Aid
While we always hope that nothing bad will happen on our adventures, it is important to always be prepared just in case. Make sure that you are prepared in case your dog gets hurt or needs to be carried out. Just like you bring first aid or preventative materials for yourself, you must do the same for your furry friend. This might be something as simple as wet food to help if your dog gets extremely dehydrated and won’t drink.
Another thing that I like to have on hand is the dog version of sports wrap to wrap their legs or paws if they get cut or scraped to avoid infection. Having a small tool to take out ticks is beneficial for both you and your dog. Also, one of the important tips for hiking with your dog is to be aware of the terrain you are hiking on. Follow this guide to decide whether or not booties might be a good idea for your furry friend to protect their paws.
4. Leave No Trace
This one is a little bit more of a stinky tip. The reality is, your dog is going to have to go on the trail. It is inevitable. One of the key principles for being out in the wilderness is to leave no trace of you being there. This means that you are going to have to pack out your dog’s waste just like you would your own (or you could bury it in a minimum of a 6in deep hole that is not within 100 feet of a water source). For packing out waste, it is important to come prepared with a way to do this. Be sure to bring puppy waste bags with you at least!
On longer hiking trips, Eric and I actually use this Sea to Summit waterproof trash bag that attaches to our hiking bags. We use it to pack out our own trash (and sometimes trash we find on the trails). It is waterproof so nothing will soak through and it helps handle the smell. When packing out dog waste, you can put it in the doggy waste bag, tie the bag, and put it in your trash bag. This makes for an easy way to carry it off the trail, and it minimizes smell!
5. Use a Harness
When hiking with your dog, you want to keep them on leash to protect them, other people, and other animals on the trail. You also want to make sure that the leash isn’t extremely long so that you can keep a close eye on the terrain and your dog, especially if hiking in an area with snakes. 6 feet or less is a good rule of thumb for leash length.
Likewise, when walking with all the distractions around, many dogs pull at their leash. If they are wearing a normal leash that attaches to their collar, it can cause rubbing and abrasion on their neck as well as lead to choking and lack of airflow. Because of this, it is important to get your dog a harness so that the leash can attach to their back and more evenly distribute the pull. It will also make your dog easier to control and gives you another grip point if for some reason you have to pull them out of the water or a hole.
6. Bring Food and Treats
This one should be obvious, but it can be easy to forget! Always make sure that you have food and snacks for your dog. It is important to stay fueled on the trail and dogs burn a lot of calories walking! Keep your pup motivated with treats and bring a small amount of food to feed them for the times you want to stop and snack as well. We like to use collapsible dog bowls for food and water on the trail because we can just use a carabiner to connect it to our bags. This allows for easy access whenever we need it.
7. Check the Trail Rules
Last but not least, make sure that the trail itself allows dogs! Not all trails are pet friendly. Even if you think that your dog will be fine on the trail, you need to abide by the trail rules. There may be multiple reasons why it wouldn’t be safe for your pet to be on the trail, and you don’t want to put them at risk!
If you follow these tips for hiking with your dog, then you should have an awesome time out on the trails!