How to Go Hiking With Your Dog
On the days I hike with the pack, we typically go early—usually by six o’clock in the morning. Before we begin hiking, I’ll spend a few moments stretching and breathing in the cool morning breeze. There’s no verbal communication during that time. The entire morning is spent in silence, communicating through energy and receiving the gift of natural quietness. When we arrive back at the house by 8 AM, the dogs head straight to the pool to swim and cool off. The rest of the day, they are much more content and quiet than they would be without the exercise they received during our hike.
If you want to have a positive hiking experience, there are certain guidelines to follow. Although your hiking trip may not look quite like mine, you can still have an enjoyable day with your pup by following certain tips for hiking with a dog. Below, I’ve put together my top advice for hiking with your canine friend.
Keeping your dog hydrated is one of the most important things to remember when hiking with your dog. Generally, most dog breeds need one ounce of water per pound each day. Of course, how much water your dog needs on a hike greatly depends on the temperature outside and how far you plan on hiking.
To be safe, you always want to pack bottles of water for your pup, as well as dog bowls. Avoid letting your dog drink from ponds, lakes, rivers, or any other untreated water source, as doing so can harm your dog’s health. Depending on the conditions of the trail and weather, you may want to offer your dog a drink every 15 to 30 minutes, or whenever you stop for a drink.
Don’t Let Your Dog Wander
For the safety of your pup, always keep your dog close by you when hiking along trails. Keeping your dog on a leash ensures he won’t wander through tall bushes and grasses where rattlesnakes may be. Additionally, having your dog under control with a leash prevents him from disturbing wildlife and bothering other hikers on the path. If you happen to stop at a campsite, avoid letting your dog roam freely. Dogs that are off-leash should always be within eye- and ear-shot.
Learn Your Dog’s Limits
Understanding your dog’s limits is important when hiking with your dog. Because hiking can be physically demanding for your pup, you’ll want to take note of any symptoms showing that your dog is tired. Signs your dog has reached his limits include panting, sweating, and lagging behind. If your dog shows these symptoms, stop immediately and allow your dog to rest.
Don’t Forget to Cool Off
If you notice your dog picking up his paws, it may be a sign that the ground is too hot. In this case, you’ll want to find a shady spot to cool off before continuing on along the trail. Avoid going for long hikes on extremely hot days, as hot temperatures can cause heatstroke in dogs. Always watch your dog’s behavior and take breaks if your dog shows any unusual symptoms.
Map Out Your Route
Before you go hiking with your dog, make sure you map out your route and have a plan in mind of where you want to go. Take your dog’s age and activity levels under consideration when planning how far you’d like to hike with your dog.
Bring a Backpack for Your Dog
Because it’s important to bring along water and perhaps snacks for your dog, you may want to consider packing a dog hiking backpack. A dog hiking backpack is especially great for large dog breeds, although it may also work well when hiking with small dogs. I’ve designed my own dog backpack for hiking, which I have made available for hikers like you!
In my pack, when the little dogs get tired, I have the big dogs carry them… in the backpack! While a hiking backpack is not a necessary dog hiking gear, it definitely makes hiking with your dog easier, especially if you plan on hiking for several hours.
Advantages of Hiking with Your Dog
The advantages of hiking with your dog are practically endless. Hiking with your pup encourages social interaction with other dogs, increases your dog’s bond with you, improves his digestion, prevents boredom, and improves his overall health. The following list are just a few other reasons why hiking with your dog offers incredible advantages:
- Dogs have fewer behavioral problems, including issues like aggression.
- Dogs experience a boost in confidence.
- Hiking builds a dog’s endurance abilities.
- Walking keeps your dog mentally and physically stimulated.
- Hiking with your dog prevents obesity and certain health issues, including heart attacks, diabetes, high blood pressure, and even arthritis.
- Dogs who hike with their owners are less likely to suffer from depression
Giving your dogs exercise in the morning sets the foundation for the rest of the day, fulfilling both your needs and theirs. Go the distance by hiking with your dog, remembering to stay calm and assertive along the way!