It has been a long, cold winter, and everyone is clamoring to get outside and hit the trails, including your furry companion.
Hiking with your dog is not just excellent exercise for both of you, but it also provides a fantastic chance to bond with them. But along with the fun comes responsibility, and you will want to make sure your buddy is safe and enjoys the time with you.
Here are a few tips to make your hike a maximum success.
- Ensure the trails allow pets: Although many parks allow dogs when properly leashed, make sure they are permitted before heading out. The website Bringfido provides a reference for parks across the country for one-hour walks up to overnight hikes. If they do not have information for the place you are visiting, a quick check online of your park’s website will often provide the information needed.
- Vaccines: Be sure your pup is up to date on all vaccines, flea, tick, and heartworm medicine. You never know what you may come across on the trails.
- Proper dog handling: Your dog should be well socialized, behave appropriately, and be handled with a strong leash. You should train your dog to not growl or pull before heading out into public spaces.
- Proper identification: If your dog should get away from you, be sure they are wearing proper identification that lists your contact information.
- Know your dog’s activity level: If this is your companion’s first adventure, or it has been a while since you last went out, take it slow. Try one hour, and see how they handle it. Gradually increase their experience. You can make a proper determination for the next time.
- Food and Water: Always carry more water than you think is necessary and give frequent breaks to rehydrate both of you. If your dog’s enthusiasm level appears lacking, a small snack can give them a much-needed energy boost. If your friend is showing signs of dehydration, a bandana soaked in water and tied loosely around its neck can help cool them. Treats are also good to have on hand.
- Proper attire: If you are hiking in cold temperatures, booties and a jacket can make your pet more comfortable. The booties can also help protect the paws from frostbite and cuts. If hiking at night, reflective gear is a must-have.
- Leave no trace: Just as with humans, it is important to remove any waste your dog may incur. Bring along extra poop bags and make sure you carry them out of the park with you or dispose of them in any provided trash containers. Do not leave alongside the path for someone else to handle. They are part of a pet owner’s responsibility.
As a dog owner, it is up to you to take proper care when hitting the trails with your pet. You want it to be a rewarding and safe experience for both of you and something you will look forward to doing time and time again.