Make the most of your hiking trip with these 10 tips for hiking with your dog.
Our dogs are like family, and we want to bring them on adventures with us – including hiking. While dogs and humans alike can enjoy hiking, it’s important to make a few adjustments if you’re bringing your four-legged family member with you. With these 10 tips from Blain’s Farm & Fleet, you can have fun and safe hiking trip with man’s best friend.
1. Research the Rules of Your Hiking Spot
Before you decide on where to go hiking, do some research. Check the rules and regulations for allowing dogs on the trail. For example, most U.S. national parks don’t allow dogs on the trail – even if they’re on a leash. State and local park systems can vary, so always plan ahead. Most parks require dogs to be leashed at all times.
2. Prepare Your Dog for the Trails
If your dog is new to hiking, it’s best to go for a practice hike. Your dog not only needs to behave on a leash, but also be okay with some other people and animals on the trail.
3. Visit Your Vet
Visit the vet before you take your dog out on the trail. Your dog should be physically ready for a day of hiking. Age, size and development can all be factors when making this decision. This is also a good time to make sure your dog is up-to-date on shots, get microchipped and get any preventative medications your dog may need.
4. Bring Enough Food and Water
Just like you need food and water on a hike, your dog does, too. Bring plenty of fresh, clean water for you and your pup. Dogs can’t sweat, so it’s important to keep them hydrated at all times. Bring treats along to help with your dog’s energy level – dogs need calories, too.
5. Clean Up After Your Dog
This is a rule that you should follow anytime you take your dog to a park, but especially on the hiking trails. While it not only keeps other hikers from stepping in it, dog excrement can actually disrupt groundwater supplies and natural habitats. Be prepared with doggie bags for clean-up. While most dog-friendly trails have a dog stool station, not all do.
6. Pack a Pet First Aid Kit
If an accident or injury happens on the trail, you won’t have access to a vet right away. It’s important to not only pack a pet-specific first aid kit, but also know some basic first aid for your pet. Visit our how-to guide on building a first aid kit for your dog.
7. Watch Your Dog’s Eating Habits
Keep a close eye on your dog, making sure they don’t ingest anything on the trail. From poisonous plants to fungi to waterborne pathogens, there are a lot of dangers on the trail. Make sure to stop often for water and treats, too.
8. Dress Your Dog Appropriately
Depending on the weather, it’s important to appropriately dress your dog. Booties can come in handy for rocky terrain, or if the weather is cold. A lot of dogs don’t like to wear them, though, so definitely try them on before you hit the trails. A cooling collar or bandana can come in handy when the weather gets hot. For colder weather, a dog jacket or sweater is also appropriate.
9. Research Trail Hazards
From rattlesnakes to ticks, there are plenty of creatures and critters that can harm your dog on the hiking trail. Talk to locals about the wildlife and plants that are in that hiking area. Be aware of your surroundings at all times, and pay close attention to your dog. You don’t want your dog to overdo it or overheat while you’re hiking.
10. Check Your Dog When You’re Done Hiking
When you’re done hiking, thoroughly check your dog’s skin and coat for burrs, cuts, fleas and ticks. If you do find any ticks, it’s important you know how to remove them and what to do next. Read through our tick removal how-to for more information. A bath is also a good idea after the hike – it can help you easily find ticks and cuts, and also help with any skin allergies.
When you and your dog are both properly prepared, you can enjoy the great outdoors together. For more tips on dog safety and caring for your pets, visit our Pet Care blog.