Bringing your dog out on a hike can be a great experience for both of you. Dogs just love all of the sights, sounds, and especially the smells of the great outdoors. Watching your furry friend have a great time can make it even more enjoyable for you. However, hiking with your dog will take a bit of extra preparation and forethought in order to make sure that you both stay safe while on the trail. Here are some simple tips to help you hike safely with your dog.
– Bring all the right supplies
Before going hiking, don’t leave home without everything that your dog is going to need on the journey. Bring some snacks, plenty of water, and a bowl for your dog to drink from. Don’t forget a leash, and try to keep a spare one in the car in case your main one should break. Basic first aid equipment such as antibiotic cream is also good to have, as you never know what your dog is going to stick their nose into. If you expect to encounter some difficult terrain, then bring along a set of dog booties as well. Speaking of difficult terrain…
– Choose your trails wisely
Try not to ask more from your dog than they are capable of. Look up trails beforehand and note the distance and elevation. You can always turn back if a trail gets too difficult, of course, but it’s better to choose a proper trail right off the bat. Healthy, young, big dogs love a challenge and can usually take on rugged terrain with ease. But smaller dogs, older dogs, and dogs with health problems should only be taken on nice, flat trails that they won’t have to struggle through. Make sure, as well, that the trail you choose allows dogs. Most do, but it’s always better to confirm.
– Keep your dog on-leash
Many people hike with their dogs off leash, and it does seem harmless enough to let a very well-trained dog walk along beside you. However, having your dog on-leash is the only way to really make sure that you always know where they are and to keep them out of trouble. Plus, off-leash dogs can actually attract wildlife and end up having some less-than-positive encounters with bears and cougars.
– Let your dog take breaks
Finally, even if you’ve chosen a trail well-suited to your dog’s abilities, you should let them take breaks once in a while to drink some water, have some food, and rest. Keep your eye on your dog so that you can see if they are starting to walk slower or pant much more than usual, especially if you’re hiking on a hot day.
No matter your dog’s age, size, or abilities, you’re bound to be pleasantly surprised by just how enthusiastic they are to tackle the trail with you. Just come prepared and keep your dog on-leash, and you’re both sure to have a great time.