Hiking with Your Dog 101

Hiking with Your Dog 101

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Camping with Arctic Zone

By: Cameron Munro

hike with a dog
Most dogs flourish in the outdoors, and nothing builds trust with man’s best friend like hiking with your dog. You would be amazed at the way a good sniff of fresh air and space to roam can bring out the best in your furry companion.

When hiking with your dog you need to be aware of possible dangers and the best way to keep your pet safe. Consider some of these helpful tips before you and your pooch hit the trails.

Train your pet

Hiking With Dogs

Avid hikers should consider taking their dogs on short hikes at an early age, so that they become accustomed to the lifestyle naturally. Obedience training is also a helpful tool for hikers as it will train your companion to be compliant and responsive, regardless of distractions in the wild. Make sure not to exert your dog before their body is fully prepared. It is suggested that your dog get five minutes of exercise per month of age, twice daily. Dogs that are used to getting a lot of exercise will build a tolerance to physical activity, and do much better on longer hikes.

Know the area

Hiking with Dogs: Know the area

Before going hiking with your dog in a new territory, survey the area to become aware of potential hazards such as water, high cliffs, mountain crevices, etc. You should know what kinds of terrain your dog is accustomed to and what areas you should avoid. You can also contact a park ranger to ask about wildlife and water quality in the area. Do not rely on streams or lakes to keep your pets hydrated, as they could be contaminated and make them ill. If you’re unsure of the water quality, bring your own supply. It’s also a good idea to try to find out where the closest veterinary hospital is just to be safe.

Mind the weather

Hiking with Dogs: Mind the Weather

The weather will dictate the kinds of supplies you’ll need when hiking with your dog. In winter weather you may want to consider gearing them up with a light jacket, specifically a light style if they’re carrying their own backpack. High-quality booties are helpful, both in cold and warm seasons, as some exposed surfaces may become too hot or icy for their bare pads to handle. It helps to supply your dog with waterproof items that you can dry easily on breaks, as well as a collapsible bed that sits slightly off the ground for sleeping. Rest will be important in helping your dog restore and rejuvenate for the trail ahead, so make sure their bedding is warm and dry.

Set up a physical exam

Hiking with Dogs: Physical Exam

Before going hiking with your dog, you should send them in for a full physical with their veterinarian. Dogs are very resilient animals who will not always alert you if they’re in pain, so sending them in for a physical will tell you whether your furry friend is in the best condition to take part.

Pack Smart

Hiking with Dogs: Pack Smart

One large difference between camping and hiking is that hiking forces you to pack smart. If you’re going to be traveling long distances with your dog, you want to pack only the most important necessities.

The Titan 16 Can Cooler is perfect as you can carry it over your shoulder while still allowing room for backpack. If your pooch is strong and healthy, he/she may be accustomed to wearing their own backpack on the trails. It is recommended that dogs carry no more than 25% of their own body weight, but start with light cargo and work your way up. This is a great way to lessen your own load on a long hike, but make sure you invest in a high-quality hiking backpack that is comfortable for your dog. Age and breed may affect how much weight they can carry, so consult with your veterinarian on this topic.

Make sure they’re tagged

Hiking With Dogs

Whether your dog knows the lay of the land or not, you can never be too careful when it comes to man’s best friend. Always make sure that before you go hiking with your dog he/she has all of their most recent tags and vaccinations attached to their collar, and that your most up-to-date contact information is available as well. There is also the option of having your dog microchipped, which, if you become separated from your dog, can be accessed by a veterinary clinic for owner information. This is only helpful if you keep your information up-to-date, so make sure your vet has the correct contact names and numbers.

Remember that not all dogs will be comfortable exerting themselves or spending long hours outdoors. If you’re an avid hiker looking for a hiking buddy, make sure you consider breeds that are known for having high energy and a tolerance to being outdoors.

With the proper training and a knowledgeable owner, your dog will be an experienced hiker in no time.

Does your dog rely on any specific items more than others on your hiking trips? What are your top 3 things to pack for a successful hike with your furry friend? Let us know!

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