Hiking is a wonderful way to enjoy the natural world. Your dog can be a helpful partner as you hit the trail, spotting things you might never have noticed. However, a canine companion on a hike is also a responsibility. It is important to prepare so that you keep your outdoor adventure fun and safe.
Improve Your Dog’s Physical Fitness
While most dogs are enthusiastic about walking, they still need to train if they are walking long distances. Add distance to your regular walks over time. Take some shorter walks on local trails, so your dog has some experience being in the woods. It is important for you to understand how your dog will react to different woodland stimuli.
Bring Lots of Water
Just like you, dogs need to hydrate on a long hike. Due to their limited ability to sweat, your dog may need even more water breaks than you do. Make sure to bring enough water for both of you to stay well-hydrated. You should also bring a lightweight bowl to make it easier for your dog to drink.
Lessen the Load
A heavy backpack will slow you down over the miles. This can be even more challenging when you are trying to navigate a dog on a leash through difficult terrain. When you're hiking, even the smallest additions to your backpack can be strenuous, so collapsible dishes and fabric folding chairs will put less weight on your back.
Know the Terrain
Do some research on the hike before you head out. You should have a sense of the difficulty of the trail and what kind of challenges you will encounter. If there is a significant change in elevation, your dog may have to take more rest breaks along the way. If there is not much shade, you need to bring extra water.
You should also make yourself aware of common pests and natural dangers in the trail area. Fleas and ticks can make your dog miserable when the hike is over. It’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with any venomous snakes in the area, and if possible, enroll your dog in snake avoidance training. Dogs can also transfer the oil from poison ivy to your skin, giving you an unpleasant souvenir from your hike.
Prepare for the Unexpected
On a long hike, conditions can change unexpectedly, and you need to be prepared. If you are in an area with sudden drops in temperature, pack a blanket or jacket for your dog. Make certain that you have appropriate first aid supplies for both of you. Bring some extra food and water in case the hike takes longer than you planned. You might even bring some interactive dog toys to enjoy when you reach your destination.
Hiking with your dog is a powerful bonding experience. With its enhanced senses of smell and hearing, your dog will help you see the natural world in a new way. By planning ahead, your woodland adventure will create joyful memories.