Hiking with your dog is a great way to exercise, explore, and enjoy nature. Whether you were inspired by some awesome pictures of dogs camping, or just want to try something new that your dog will enjoy, here are some tips for how to hike safely with your dog.
#1 Bring Enough Water For Both You And Your Dog
Staying hydrated is extremely important for the two of you, especially if you’re hiking in a hot climate. While it’s recommended that dogs drink an ounce of water per pound of bodyweight, it’s always a good idea to bring extra.
You can bring a ton of water, but still have nothing for your dog to drink. It’s difficult for dogs to drink out of normal bottles for somewhat obvious reasons. Instead, bring a collapsible travel bowl or a bottle with a bowl attachment for your dog to drink out of.
#2 Always Keep Your Dog Leashed While Hiking
While it may be tempting to let your dog off leash, it’s extremely risky for dogs to run loose in the wild. The potential dangers are almost endless. Here’s a short list of what your dog may face if allowed to wander:
Simply seeing a wild animal might trigger your dog’s prey drive. If they give chase they can easily get lost, and become exposed to all the dangers of the wild.
#3 Know How To Identify And Avoid Poisonous Plants
While outdoors, you need to spot plants that are toxic to your dog before your dog gets near them. A good example is knowing the difference between a wild carrot (perfectly harmless) and it’s lookalike Hemlock (killed Socrates, deadly to dogs too).
Thanks to their fur coats, dogs are less likely to be affected by more common dangers like Poison Ivy or Poison Oak. However, the poisonous oils linger on their fur and can affect both of you after the first contact.
The best way to avoid poisonous plants is to keep your dog leashed and not allow them to wander. After a hike, you can clean your dog thoroughly to remove any harmful oils they may have picked up.
# 4 Watch Out For Hazardous Terrain
When we hike our boots protect us, but dogs are stuck with their bare paws. What might be a simple trail to you could be a minefield for your dog’s poor feet. When you hike you need to plan paths with your dog in mind.
Dogs are at a big risk for torn pads while hiking. Even a veteran hiking dog can have sore/torn pads after a difficult day. Injured pads cause a serious limp, and will make your hike far more difficult. Your pup will also be miserable for a day or two afterwards.
Watch out for debris and harsh terrain such as:
- Sharp, loose branches
- Hot stones or sharp rocks
- Discarded trash
By inspecting and testing the ground, you can avoid serious damage to your dog’s feet and keep hiking happily.
#5 Bring A First Aid Kit That’s Dog-Friendly
If either of you get cut or scraped, a first aid kit will prevent the wounds from getting worse or becoming infected. Here’s a good guide for how to pack your kit with your dog in mind.
However, if your dog is bitten by a poisonous animal or seriously injured you should stop your hike immediately. Just get them to the nearest emergency vet as soon as you can. A first aid kit can never be comprehensive enough to give them proper treatment.
#6 Research The Dog Regulations At Your Hiking Grounds
Just like any park, there are rules and regulations that you should be familiar with before taking your dog there. Assuming your dog is always welcome can end up in a very short hiking trip or even a fine.
Some parks won’t accept dogs or have specific leash regulations you have to follow. Don’t be discouraged though, it’s more than likely that your dog will be allowed to tag along at most parks.
#7 Attach A Bell To Your Dog’s Collar
Bells are an easy way to help keep track of your dog. If they’re lost or hidden under brush nearby, the ringing can point you in the right direction. However, the noise doesn’t travel far and it’s best to keep your dog close at all times.
Bells will also scare off wildlife. Wild animals are alerted by the sound of ringing bells and will choose to leave the area rather than stick around. Usually, they’ll be gone before your dog has the chance to see them or give chase.
#8 Be Careful When Greeting Strangers On The Trail
We may sound like a broken record by now, but keeping your dog leashed is the best way to avoid an unpleasant encounter. If your dog sees another hiker with a dog, they may run to greet them. This could result in a friendly encounter, but could also result in all kinds of trouble. It’s better to not risk it.
To avoid directly running into someone on a narrow hiking trail, simply step off the path until they’ve passed. Be sure to pack lots of treats to keep your dog distracted from the visitors, then resume your hike afterwards.
The best tools you have on the trail are good communication and solid recall skills. If your dog will heed your calls, you can use your knowledge to keep them out of danger. If you’re not confident in your dog’s training, we recommend postponing your hiking trip.
At DogBoy’s, we offer basic training classes and group classes that go over leash walking, recall, sit, stay, and much more. If you have questions about what skills are useful for hiking trips, or what classes to take, don’t hesitate to contact us today.
Hiking Dog by Active Steve
Hiking Weenies by Morning theft
Poison Oak by Jerry Kirkhart
Poison Ivy by John