Take Your Dog on a Hike!
Hiking is a wonderful outdoor sport you can enjoy with your dog a majority of the year! I would like to provide some tips on how to make your next hiking trip with your dog successful.
When looking for the perfect hiking trail, you might just need to step outside your backdoor and explore the woods behind your home. You might not need to drive to a special national forest to put your hiking shoes on and have your dog ready to go. But, if you decide that would be a fun adventure for the two of you, make sure to check with the local park rangers to see if there are any laws pertaining to your furry buddy.
Some parks may require your dog be leashed the entire time.
Things to Do Before Leaving
Vaccinations - Make sure your dog's vaccinations are up-to-date. There are all sorts of critters in the wild that your dog may attempt to make friends with.
Flea and Tick Preventative - Without doubt, your dog should be protected before entering a trail. Fleas and ticks will be happy to feast on your furry buddy and that won't be fun for your best friend.
Destination and Time - Contact a family or friend and tell them where you will be hiking, what time you are leaving, and when you should be back. If anything were to happen, someone should be aware of your whereabouts on a hiking trail.
Cell Phone - Make sure your cell phone is 100% charged and ready to go. Depending on the where you go for your hike, cell phone service may not be available. Many cell phones have a built in GPS locator, check with your phone service to see if yours is activated. It might be worth the extra fee to have it done if it is not.
Things to Bring
Collar w/ Identification Tags - Make sure your dog's tags are up-to-date on your current information before you trek out. If you dog is allowed off leash, and becomes separated from you, having your current information on their tags is the next best thing to reuniting the two of you.
Leash - As a dog trainer, I am not a big fan of the retractable leash, except for hikers and runners. So make sure you have this fancy tool that allows the leash to extend out up to 20 ft or more.
Backpack - Not just for you, but if your dog is a working breed, get a doggy backpack on them! Make sure you ease your dog into wearing one and bearing weight. Your "working" breed will enjoy the challenge and be happy to carry water, treats, flashlight, and other items for you. Remember, when using a backpack it doubles your dog's workout. That is a win-win for you both; a tired dog after a good work out is a happy dog!
Water and Food - Don't forget to pack plenty of water for you both as well as some snacks to keep your energy level up. Pet stores have a wonderful water dish for dogs that folds and collapse for easy storage in a backpack. Letting your dog drink from rivers, creeks, or puddles is never a good idea as they can harbor parasites or toxins.
Doggy Booties - Depending on the trail you will be taking, your dog may appreciate doggy booties to protect their pads from the rough terrain. Remember, you have your hiking boots/shoes on, don't forget to have them for your dog too. If your dog has never worn these before, training will be needed to get them use to wearing them.
Poo Bags - Yes, you are still responsible for cleaning up after your dog even in the woods. Your fellow hikers will appreciate when they don't have to step over a pile of poo on the trail, so be considerate and clean up after your dog.
Dry Socks - Bring an extra pair of dry socks if you plan on crossing a creek. Plastic bags to put over your shoes can help too.
Extra Clothes - Depending on how far you plan to go on your hike, make sure to pack an extra shirt and long pants in your pack.
Bug Spray - Don't forget this!
First Aid Kit - Bring a small kit of first aid items.; Remember, even your dog could get a cut on the bottom of their paw which will make the hiking trip much more difficult on the way back.
Camera - I am positive there will be plenty of pictures you will want to take. Pictures will help you enjoy the experience all over again by taking you back to memory lane!
Compass Bring a good ol' compass, electronics are not full proof on a hike. A compass is.
Flashlight - Just in case dusk sneaks up on you because you didn't realize how much fun you were having and time got away, a flashlight could come in handy. Make sure to add brand new batteries too.
On the Hike
So you ventured onto a hiking trail that allows your dog to be off-leash, fantastic, only if your dog is trained to be off-leash and is strong on their "recall" command.
Be courteous of other hikers and their dogs. Teach your dog to stay to the right of the trail versus zigzagging all over.
Trainer Tip~ Call your dog back to you each time you see another hiker or dog and reward your dog with a yummy treat, soon they will associate seeing another hiker or dog as the greatest thing in the world!
Like I mentioned above, you are still responsible for picking up (poo) after your dog, your fellow hikers will thank you.
Take lots of water breaks. Keeping you both hydrated is important during a hike.
When you get home
Check your furry buddy for ticks and fleas. Hopefully they will be on their preventative, but doing a thorough check when you get back is important.
Grooming - Give your dog a good brushing and then a nice bath. The brushing will help remove brush and prickers that stick to their fur. The bath will help remove dirt, debris from their skin and paws.
Don't forget to check yourself for ticks and wash your hiking clothes too.
My Final Recommendation~ Have fun, enjoy the scenery, and bring your sense of humor, mishaps are bound to happen on an adventure like this.