With summer upon us, hiking is one of the best ways to exercise and bond with our pets, while still enjoying the beauty of the great outdoors! It seems really simple to incorporate our furry sidekick into our hikes, but to do it the right and safe way, there is a lot of planning and preparation dog owners should do before hitting the trail. Before you head out, consider these tips so you and your four-legged hiking buddy both have a safe and fun experience:
- Obedience and Trail Etiquette.
Before you go, it’s important to decide if your dog is well trained enough to head out on a hike. On the hike, it’s your job to maintain control of your dog so they stay out of the way of other hikers, bikers, wild animals, and even some species of plants. Without proper recall skills, you may spend more time struggling to stay on path than enjoying the hike. Additionally, make sure you familiarize yourself with the trail’s leash policy as the rules may vary depending on where you are.
- Ease Into It.
It will likely take some time to ease your dog into hiking, so its important to work up to longer more strenuous hikes. Try starting with an hour-long hike to help build up Fido’s stamina and ensure his safety. Even the most active of dogs might need time to adjust to this new mode of exercise, as well as adjust to rough terrain under their paws.
- Leave No Trace.
Whether it’s your granola bar wrapper or your dog’s poop bag, the rules remain the same: pack it in, pack it out. We recommend always bringing a few extra dog poop bags on hikes to be prepared for any number of “situations”. Avoid leaving your dog’s waste to be picked up on the way back, chances are other hikers will be on the trail and nobody wants to run into that unexpected surprise.
- Be Prepared.
All dog owners know to expect the unexpected when it comes to their pups, but this is especially important while on the trail. Without quick access to medical help, its critical to bring first aid supplied for your dog. The Red Cross provides great resources for what to put in a pet first aid kit. Additionally, make sure you have enough water, a travel water bowl, and dog food for your pup—just in case.
Finally, remember to have fun and enjoy the view! If you are looking for new place to hike with your dog, Bringing Fido is a great resource for finding dog-friendly trails in your area: https://www.bringfido.com/