Thinking of a little getaway trip away from civilization and into the arms of Mother Nature? What better than a hiking trip with your dog to keep you company.
Before you go out the door with your dog in tow, are you sure that you have everything?
Check your bags again.
You might be confused at this point but let me stress the importance of proper preparation.
Check out these 10 absolutely essential tips that you need to see to ensure that you and your dog have a safe and enjoyable trip.
1. Make Sure that Your Dog is Physically Capable
If your dog is used to walking short distances, a sudden day-long hiking trip wouldn’t be the best idea.
Instead, focus on building your dog’s endurance. Gradually increase its walking distance with time until it can walk longer distances without getting exhausted. Consider taking your dog on shorter hikes if it is just beginning.
Before the trip, it is important that your dog gets a checkup from the vet and that all its vaccines are up to date.
Keep in mind that there are restrictions on the length of time young dogs can walk to prevent future joint damage.
Often times the terrain may not be suitable to walk on with bare paws, get quality dog boots so your dog’s paws can adhere to the ground. This also reduces chances of injury to its feet.
2. Pick the Right Trail
Dogs may not be allowed on all trails. Certain events may cause a trail to become inaccessible such as bad weather or a special occasion. Make sure that the trail you choose is dog-friendly and accessible before the trip.
Enquire whether it is safe to unleash your dog while hiking on that specific trail. Get all available information on the trail beforehand.
Create a map of the areas you are going to explore and print copies so you can give them to close friends or family so they are informed on your location.
Let them know an approximate of the amount of time it would take for you to return in case of accidents or if you get lost.
3. Be Considerate of Other Hikers and the Environment
Remember that the trail may be shared by other hikers. If your dog tends to wander off when he has been unleashed it may be wiser not to do so.
The undergrowth ahead may conceal potential threats or cyclists which may pose a danger to your dog.However, you can unleash your dog on trails where the road ahead is clear so you can keep an eye on your dog.
4. Be Conscious of the Wildlife on Your Chosen Trail
Make sure to be thoroughly informed on all aspects of the trail you have chosen. Wildlife is a huge part of all trails and chances are you will encounter some on your journey.
Knowledge about this can prevent a potential fatality. For example, small dogs are targeted and preyed on by coyotes. Moreover, if your dog even unintentionally makes a larger animal feel threatened, a frightened response such as a kick by the animal can seriously injure your dog.
Rattlesnakes remain hidden in piles of dead branches, fallen trees or in grassy regions near a water source. If disturbed, they will attack and their venom is known to cause excruciating deaths.
If the area consists of predatory animals like bears, you must keep the dog leashed for both of your safety.
Beware of skunks or squirrels. Both of them have the ability to ruin what would have otherwise been a great hiking experience.
5. Consider Getting a Dog Backpack
Carrying heavy supplies while walking long distances can be hard work. You can get your dog a backpack too so it can carry some of its own supplies.
There are commercially available packs for every size or breed of dog.
Do keep in mind that highly active and younger dogs can carry 25% of their body weight without any adverse effects. However, for most dogs, they can carry up to 15% of their body weight only.
Build your dog’s endurance for heavier weights by training them to pick lighter weights and gradually progressing to heavier loads.
6. Always Have an Emergency First Aid Kit in Hand
In the event of an injury or accident, it is always recommended to have an emergency first aid kit in hand. You never know what befalls hikers on their journey.
Here are some basic first aid must-haves:
- Topical Disinfectant
- Gauze pads
If you or your dog takes any prescription meds, include them in the kit as well. Be sure to fully charge your mobile devices and have some emergency contacts on speed dial. Additionally, bring along a dog cooling pad to cool down an overheating dog.
7. Bring Adequate Water and Stay Hydrated
There are many lakes or creeks available on the trail you take but abundance doesn’t mean the water will be safe. Parasites such as the giardia can infest your dog’s intestines if contaminated water is consumed.
Take plenty of water with you on your trip. Bringing a dog bowl means you won’t have to separate both of your water sources.
Collapsible dog water bottles take almost no space in your pack and are great for giving water to your dog.
8. Beware of Altitude Sickness
Higher altitudes have lower oxygen levels, this can cause altitude sickness. Let your dog adjust to higher altitudes by slowly ascending the trail. Make sure you both drink plenty of water and take deep breaths while you are at it.
Keep an eye on your dog if it is heavily panting and/or falling behind. Go back down to a lower altitude and let it rest for a while.
9. Clean Up After Yourself and Your Dog
It is understandable that there will be garbage such as food wrappers or soup tins but make sure to pick them up and put them in trash bags. Always bring some along with you.
Similarly, bring a bag to carry your dog feces in. Don’t just leave it lying there! Dog feces can adversely affect the environment. If your dog is suffering from some illness, its feces can transmit parasites to the wildlife nearby.
10. Reward Your Dog for Good Behavior
If you and your dog have successfully completed this incredible journey. Give it some good food and drink as a reward for good behavior. Your dog is likely to keep up the good behavior on future hikes as well!
Don’t forget to do a once over of your dog to make sure it isn’t injured. Look for abrasions or bruises. Be extra attentive to flea or tick infestations. These insects may carry dangerous parasites that might infect you as well.
Hiking is an extremely enjoyable hobby and a great way to pass time. This journey can help both you and your dog bond. Moreover, a thorough preparation goes a long way to ensure that the trip goes well. Still missing something in your pack? At least now you know!
Shawn is a content writer at Feedfond. A doting father to his two children and a loving pet parent to his dogs, he’s full of love. Check out more of his articles at Feedfond.com.