Hiking with Your Dog

Taking your dog HikingHiking with your dog is a fun and healthy activity for you and your dog. But before you head out into the great outdoors, keep the following points in mind.

Dog Hiking Tips:

  • Do not take your dog hiking on trails if he is not trained/obedient. It is essential that you and your dog can communicate and work together as a team.
  • Go to a vet before taking on challenging hikes with your dog to ensure he is healthy and up for the challenge. For more information on preparing your dog before hiking read Preparing Your Dog Before Camping.
  • Prepare your dog physically and mentally before going on long/challenging hikes. A few weeks before the trip, take him on walks or jogs to get him into shape and used to the distances and the difficulties of hiking outdoors.
  • If you are planning on having your dog carry a pack on the hikes make sure his pack is no more than 20 pounds. It is a good precaution to have your dog carry only non-breakable items. Only have your dog carry a pack if he is large/strong enough and capable of carrying it.
  • While preparing your dog for hiking, have him wear his pack so he gets used to the feel of it. Gradually add items to his pack so that he becomes accustomed to wearing it with the extra weight.
  • The pads/bottoms of a dog’s feet are quite soft and can tear or lacerate when exposed to rough terrain. To protect his feet and prevent this from occurring, you can have your dog wear booties. Nowadays you can purchase the original long term dog booties or you can try the new disposable/reusable dog booties. They now also have on the market a dog foot balm which you put on your dogs foot pads before heading out into either very icy/hot weather to form a protective barrier.
  • If your dog has a tear on his pad make sure you wash your dog’s feet every evening and apply antiseptic ointment or rubbing alcohol to prevent infection and aid the healing process. You can also put a sock on his paw to keep it covered and protected.
  • Pack extra food and water for your dog on your hiking trip as he will require more water and food than usual.
  • Just as you burn energy on a hike so does your dog. Your dog will require plenty of clean water and extra calories on the hike so make sure you stop often to refuel your and your dog’s energy with water and snacks.
  • Carry a food and water dish in either your or his pack; collapsible dog dishes are ideal when hiking as they are lightweight and easy to pack.
  • Keep your dog restrained while hiking on the campsite grounds and trails. If hiking out of a public area, you may wish to have your dog off a leash, but please only do so if your dog is well-trained and obedient. If your dog is off the leash, he is more likely roam off, frighten people and/or animals leading to un-ideal situations. Be aware of your surroundings and the safety of your dog and others before taking your dog off the leash.
  • An alternative to tying him up in the day/night by a long lead or tether is to have a portable dog pen to keep your dog in a designated area. Keep in mind that your dog will need supervision as they may not prevent your dog from escaping. If you have your dog outside your tent at night, try tying him up and then putting him inside the portable pet pen to enclose him as well as keeping potential wildlife away.
  • Bring a leash and an extra leash just in case you loose or break one. You may want to bring one long leash as it gives your dog more space to explore and will not tangle in your pack.
  • Pack a dog carrier to wear if you are hiking with a small dog that may not be able to keep up as well as a medium to large – sized dog.
  • Pack a body cooler bandanna for your dog to wear in hot conditions. A body cooler bandanna is essentially a bandanna or piece of cloth which you can soak in water and then tie around your dog’s neck to help him stay cool. This cooling bandanna is not a substitute to him drinking water to stay cool, but may help him overall.
  • You will value a towel when hiking with your dog as it is a guarantee that he will become wet and dirty and you will want to wipe him down.
  • If your dog cannot keep quiet at night it is not wise to bring him hiking as he will disturb other hikers, campers and wildlife.
  • Pack some treats and toys for your dog to enjoy on your hiking expedition. It is smart to pack only unbreakable toys such as a ball, Frisbee, pull toy or your dog’s favourite plush toy.
  • Have a bed for your dog to sleep on in the day/night, whether in your tent or outside. Make sure your place down a plastic tarp under the bed to keep the cold and moisture from coming up into the bed.
  • Make sure your dog always has access to shade and keep an eye out for heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Here is more information on how to prevent and spot heat exhaustion and stroke in your dog.
  • Never leave your dog’s toilet business on the trail as the next hiker may not see it and will not appreciate it. The best thing to do is to discard it into the thick brush or bury it.
  • Bring a First-Aid Kit for your Dog in case an injury occurs. We have a First-Aid Kit Checklist For Your Dog Camping you may use as a resource.
  • If hiking or camping in colder climates spray your dogs paws and under belly with a light cooking oil spray such as “Pam” or the new dog foot balm to prevent snow from clumping in the paw crevices and in the fur of your dogs belly.

If you’re looking to go hiking with your dog, Campingpet.com offers a list of pet friendly trails throughout the US. Hikewithyourdog also offers a list of pet friendly trails throughout the US and Canada.

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Author: Kaitlyn
(The CampTrip Team)

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