Hiking with Dogs
Hiking with dogs can be a fun and highly rewarding experience. This ultimate mini guide will help answer some common questions regarding hiking with a dog
Useful Tips When Hiking With a Dog
Hiking is the perfect activity for dogs and their owners. It’s great exercise, it’s fun, and it gets both of you outside in nature.
Plus, hiking gives dogs mental stimulation as they explore their surroundings and pick up on new scents. And if your pup loves water, there are plenty of lakes and streams to splash around in!
You can take your dog on all sorts of hikes – from easy walks along flat trails to challenging scrambles up steep hillsides or even multi-day backpacking trips through rugged wilderness areas.
There are so many fantastic hiking trails in the UK, from the Highlands of Scotland to the South Downs. The possibilities are endless when you have an adventurous canine companion by your side!
This post is intended to be the ultimate guide for hiking with your dog. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just beginning, we’ve got some tips and pointers that will help make your outing enjoyable for both you and your four-legged companion.
We’ll cover everything from choosing the right dog hiking gear, picking trails, and getting started.
Let’s dive in …
Hiking with Dogs: Before You Hit The Trail
You need to consider if your dog is ready for hiking; some breeds are better suited to this activity than others. For example, a Basset Hound is not going to be able to tackle a 5-mile mountain walk.
Your dog’s age is another consideration; young puppies should not get too much exercise as it can damage their developing bones and joints. Older dogs may have health issues that could be worsened with increased activity.
Start with short, easy hikes; this will help build up their endurance and toughen their paws before tackling more difficult terrain and check for signs of discomfort or injury frequently.
If you’re not sure whether your dog is fit enough for hiking, speak to your vet, who will be able to offer advice.
10 Breeds That Make Excellent Hiking Buddies
- Siberian Husky
- Springer Spaniel
- Hungarian Vizsla
- German Sort-Haired Pointer
- Jack Russell
- Border Collie
- Australian Shepherd
- German Shepherd
Hiking with Dogs: Things You’ll Need to Pack
There are a few things on this list and you may be wondering where you’re going to fit them all but the good news is you can purchase doggy backpacks so your four-legged friend can carry their share of the equipment.
It won’t be much as they can only carry about 10-15% of their body weight but this will still take some of the load off you.
- Food and drink – Your dog may need up to double the calories they usually do, so a high protein kibble is the best option. Don’t forget water and if you are going to be in the middle of nowhere, invest in a portable water filter. Dogs can catch parasites from dirty streams and rivers just like we can.
- Collapsable bowls – These are lightweight and perfect for travelling as you can pack them away easily after use.
- Poop bags – Even in the wilderness, it’s essential to pick up after your pooch; dog waste can permanently damage fragile ecosystems and waterways.
- Treats – Rewards for good behaviour
- A harness and leash – A harness is always better than a collar when hiking. They usually have a grab handle on top so you can support your dog over obstacles or rough terrain and are much safer. Imagine if your beloved pet slipped and fell wearing a collar they could easily choke.
- GPS tracker (optional) – A GPS tracker isn’t essential but is an excellent tool should your pooch get lost
- A blanket – Sleeping in a strange place can be scary, so the familiar scent of home will put your dog at ease
- Brush or comb – We’re not suggesting you spend hours grooming your pup, but a slicker brush will remove any burrs or tangles at the end of each day
- First aid kit – Injuries can occur when hiking, from strains to cuts and sore paws, so it’s handy to have essentials such as antiseptic sprays and dressings should they be needed.
- Boots – I can see you rolling your eyes, but if you’ve ever had to carry a full-grown Boxer back to a hotel with sore feet as I have, you’d know just how valuable they can be for either rugged terrain or a cut paw.
- Their favourite toy – There’s going to be some downtime during your hike, so take along a toy to play with
- Pet insurance details – Unfortunately, no matter how careful we are, accidents happen, so make sure you have the phone number of the nearest vet and all your insurance details with you.
- A coat – Depending on the weather and your dog, you may need a coat to either keep them dry or warm; many dogs can do without, but hiking in the pouring rain all day isn’t comfortable for anyone and that includes our canine companions.
- Dog drying towel – If your dog loves swimming or it pours with rain, a towel is convenient before popping into a pub for a well-earned rest or when you return to your accommodation.
Etiquette When Hiking with Dogs
Clean up after your dog
Scooping the poop keeps the trail clean and prevents other hikers from stepping in doggy doo Plus, reducing the chance of parasite transmission. The bacteria in dog waste can spread diseases, contaminate water and destroy the delicate balance of some ecosystems.
It looks unsightly and gives non-dog owners ammunition to call for dogs being banned from certain places. So make sure to bring along some bags so you can pick up after Fido!
Keep them under control at all times
Very few dogs have perfect recall, especially when something interesting has caught their attention, like a squirrel. If your pup hasn’t mastered basic commands such as sit, come and leave it, then it’s essential to keep them on a short lead at all times when hiking.
Do not let them charge up to other hikers and dogs
The four words which bug me most when I run into other dog owners as their hound charges towards me are “It’s OK, they’re friendly”.
That may be so, but other dogs may not be. I know it’s hard to believe, but some people don’t like dogs; children may be scared of them, so don’t let your pup run up to everyone you meet along the route.
Keep them away from livestock and wild animals
Did you know a farmer is allowed to shoot your dog if they are worrying livestock? If your pooch hasn’t seen sheep before or has a high prey drive, you must always keep them on a leash.
The same applies to wildlife with many hiking trails that have nesting ground birds and you should be careful not to let Fido disturb them.
Teach basic obedience before you go hiking
Life will be much easier if you are hiking with a well-behaved dog. Having your arm pulled from your socket for miles is no fun, so before going hiking with your dog, make sure they can walk nicely on a leash and respond to basic commands.
If you have an overly protective dog or a reactive dog, maybe hiking isn’t the best activity.
Safety on the Trail
It’s essential to keep your pet safe when hiking, make sure to choose trails that aren’t too harsh underfoot and take care when walking on slippery surfaces. When you stop for a rest, check for grass seeds and foxtails which can cause pain.
Be attentive; you need to watch for signs of fatigue or discomfort. Most dogs want to please their owner, so they will go as long as you do, so it’s an owners responsibility to make sure they don’t overdo it.
Check the weather forecast; icy and rainy conditions may require special precautions and never hike when it’s too hot as your furry friend may suffer from heatstroke. This is especially so for brachycephalic breeds like bulldogs, pugs and boxers.
Signs of dehydration may include:
- Excessive panting
- Red gums and tongue
Never let Fido eat any plants along the trail, as they could potentially be poisonous. You should prevent them from drinking water from streams and rivers as it may contain harmful bacteria that can lead to illnesses like Giardia.
Hiking with Dogs: Final Thoughts
Hiking with dogs is one of the best things in life. It’s an adventure that will bring you closer to your furry friend and make for some great memories. But it also requires a lot of preparation.
You need to be prepared for all kinds of weather, know how to keep them safe, and have everything they might need on hand at all times. Have fun and happy hiking!
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