Sometimes the greatest feeling in the world is getting away from civilization and hanging out in nature. Hiking is an excellent opportunity to get air, exercise, and clear your head from all the crazy hubbub of daily life. Getting outside for a hike helps people decompress, unplug from work and other demands on your time and resources. Luckily, like camping and running, hiking is also one of the best ways to spend time with your best friend: your pup. Just like hiking safety is vital for you, your dog needs protection from the elements to make sure you both have a carefree, fun walk (only better). So how do safely hike with your dog?
Hike with your dog: Protect paws
A dog’s paws are sensitive, and one of the easiest ways for pups to get injured while hiking is by hurting their paws. During the summertime, the ground (especially rocks and pavement) can get very hot, which can scorch and burn their paws. Sharp objects on the trail can cut their paws.
To protect your doggo’s paws, look into hiking boots made especially for dogs. Getting the right fit for their comfort is important. Make sure to give them time to get used to the boots before you take them out for a long hike.
If your dog is not a fan of boots, look for paw pad treatments that can moisturize and protect from heat. It won’t spare your dog from stepping on something sharp, but it will protect their paws from getting scorched. Paw care is an essential part of grooming; paw treatments are usually made with a moisturizing element and wax, kind of like lip balm.
Hike with your dog: Get the right supplies
Like you, your puppy needs to stay hydrated during physical exercise. When you’re packing your supplies for the trail, make sure you bring enough water for the both of you, and something for your pal to drink out of, like a collapsible bowl.
Dogs don’t sweat and can get dehydrated before you do. Keep an eye on your dog’s energy level and how they’re panting to see when it’s time for a quick drink. Consider bringing food for your dog. If you’re packing a snack for yourself, be sure to bring something for your dog, too.
And don’t forget to bring baggies to clean up after your pup!
Hike with your dog: Don’t forget the leash
Keeping your dog safe is often about the amount of control you have over them. A leashed dog is easier to control when you happen across other dogs or wild animals.
If you hike with your dog off leash, your dog needs to be command trained even in the face of big distractions. A dog bolting off trail in pursuit of a wild animal is an easy way to get you and your dog injured or lost.
While there are gadgets that can help you locate your dog in the wilderness, like GPS trackers or glowing collars, the goal is to keep your pup at your side.
If you’re still training, make sure to bring treats or other training materials (like a clicker) to reinforce good behaviors while hiking.
Hike with your dog: Get ready
Hiking might be old hat to you, but your dog might not have the same level of conditioning as you. It’s important not to go further than your dog is capable.
In the beginning, circular hikes that keep you close to your car can help you gauge your dog’s capabilities. Once you’re aware of the lengths of their energy, you can plan longer hikes around your dog’s abilities.
The goal is to avoid pushing your dog beyond its limits, or carrying 40+ pounds of boneless, tired dog a couple of miles back to your car.
If you keep an eye to your dog’s limits, as well as their general health and energy level, you and your best friend will have a great time hiking together for years to come.
— A. Lynne Rush