When the weather is good, and you’re off on your next adventure, it’s only natural that you’d want to take your best friend with you. Your dog probably enjoys a day of hiking almost as much as you do. Planning a day of hiking with your dog isn’t the same as planning one with your children or partner. If you keep these six tips in mind, the two of you will have a great time.
1. Hiking Etiquette
When you’re on the trail with your dog, you want to follow all the hiking etiquette. It’s always a good idea and required by some trails to keep your pup leashed. While your dog may love everyone he meets, they might not love him too, so when you run across people on the trail, yield the right of way to them. Encourage your dog to remain calm and not rush at anyone. You also need to carry poop bags with you to remove any waste your dog leaves behind.
2. Check the Rules Regarding Dogs
Before heading out into the backcountry, you need to make sure that your furry friend is welcome on the hiking trails. Most towns, counties, and parks list their rules and regulations online, making it easy to find out if your pet is welcome or not. In some cases, you may find that there are restricted hours or days when dogs are allowed. Some areas only allow dogs on the trails during the offseason. You don’t want to get your dog all excited on the drive to the trail only to find out that the two of you can’t explore.
3. B.A.R.K. Ranger
Most National Parks and trails within the parks are dog friendly as long as your pup remains on his leash. The B.A.R.K. Ranger program is designed to help your dog acclimated to a new environment. This ranger-led program also goes over the rules and regulations of visiting the park with pets. It’s a great chance to learn what resources are available for your furry friend throughout the park.
4. Make Sure Your Dog Is Ready for a Hike
Your dog is always wagging his tail and begging to go outside, but is he ready for a long hike? Before heading to the trail, you want to make sure that your dog is ready for hiking. If you own a small dog with short legs, he may not be able to hike steep trails or extended ones. You need to make sure that the trail you choose matches your pup’s fitness level.
You might consider consulting your vet about your dog’s ability to accompany you before you leave. It’s a good idea to verify that your pup is up to date on ALL his vaccinations, especially rabies and leptospirosis. While hiking through the woods with plenty of critters, you want your pup to have the correct flea, tick, and heartworm preventative on board to protect him.
5. Dogs Don’t Sweat
When you get overheated, need water, and overexert yourself, your body begins to sweat as a warning sign. Your pup doesn’t sweat, so it’s up to you to keep an eye on him and know when he needs a break. Smaller dogs will need breaks more often than a larger dog, but all size dogs may need a rest before you do. Make sure to carry plenty of water to hydrate yourself and your furry friend. Also, bring a small bowl for your pup to drink from.
6. Bring a Dog First Aid Kit
From sharp rocks to tempting plants and berries to eat, there’s a lot on the hiking trail that can leave you with a sick or injured dog, and you’re a mile or more from the car to take him to the vet. A dog first aid kit will let you treat any injuries immediately and buy you time to get your best friend to the vet’s office.
At Pine Creek Vet, we partner with our clients to ensure their parents understand how to care for them. We encourage pet parents to take their dogs hiking as long as they do it safely and have a great time.