Use this guide to give your pooch a great experience.
If you’re like a lot of people, going anywhere without your dog is a struggle. When you see those sad doggie eyes looking up at you as you prepare to leave for work or somewhere else with unfair no-dog policies, it probably breaks your heart a little. Fortunately, dogs are welcome in many places, especially outdoor areas, which is why so many owners take them on hikes. But before you head out on a hiking trip with your pooch, here are some things to keep in mind.
Can your dog do it?
If you take a lot of rigorous walks around your neighborhood, you may think your dog is ready to climb mountains. But a paved road or sidewalk is a lot different from steep and uneven hiking trails. You don’t want to start on a trail only to quickly discover that your dog isn’t up to the challenge – or worse, have your dog get injured. This is why you should consider starting small.
Take short hikes that aren’t too strenuous, and see how your dog does. You can then gradually increase the time and difficulty. You should also talk to your vet to gauge your dog’s health. In addition, tell the doctor where you’ll be going, and get recommendations for vaccines or other preventative measures.
What do you need to bring?
If it’s just you and perhaps some human companions on your hike, you probably wouldn’t have to bring much more than some food and water. But when it comes to your dog, you’ll need to add to that list. While some of these may not be necessary, it’s a good idea to always remember the familiar adage that it’s better to be safe than sorry.
- First-aid kit: Even if the trails you’ll be hiking on aren’t treacherous, it’s still important to prepare for an emergency, and a dog first-aid kit should always be in your backpack.
- Water dish: You just never know what contaminants could be in even a pristine-looking stream or lake, so it’s important that you give your dog fresh water regularly.
- Towel: Speaking of water, if your dog loves playing in it, you should have a towel handy to dry them off.
- Nail clippers or file: If you’re planning to camp out and this involves sharing a tent with your dog, you may need to trim or file their nails, so they don’t destroy your tent’s fabric.
- Dog pack: With their own packs, dogs can actually carry most of their own stuff. Just be sure that it fits properly and doesn’t weigh too much.
What are some general tips when hiking with your dog?
Heed the following advice at all times:
Always use a leash
You may have the most obedient dog in the world, but you still need to use a leash. For one thing, it will probably be required wherever you go. It will also make other hikers – who might also have dogs – feel more comfortable. Plus, you just never know if your dog will see or smell something that will make them run off.
Clean up after them
Yes, we know that animals do their business in the great outdoors, but you still need to pick up after your dog. If you don’t want to have to carry filled poop bags with you, bring along a little shovel so you can bury their waste. The rule of thumb is to bury it in a hole at least 6 inches deep and about 200 feet away from a trail.
Find out if they’re welcome
Nothing will cause a canine hiking trip to come to a crashing halt faster than discovering you’ve picked a park that doesn’t allow dogs. Be sure to do some research ahead of time so you know where to go. While many state and local parks allow dogs, the majority of national parks do not.
For more tips about traveling or camping with your dog, check out the RV Advisor blog.