Having a dog is great, but going hiking with your dog can be even better. Your furry sidekick can easily be one of your most eager and willing hiking partners.
But hiking with Super Dog involves a little extra prep and planning.
One of the most important things is to make sure your dog is physically ready for the trails. Dogs that spend most days laying around or just going on short walks on pavement are going to have to ease into hiking.
Veterinarian Michelle Richardson suggests waiting until your pup has had all the needed shots and keeping the hikes under an hour to start.
Richardson also advises getting the Leptospirosis vaccination; this will protect your pet from additional pathogens from wildlife. Keep your pet up to date on heartworm protection, as well, due to higher chances of mosquito and tick bites.
Keep in mind that your partner isn’t going to have on supported hiking boots like you. You’re going to either need to do shorter hikes to build up the toughness of your dog’s feet or buy them booties for protection. It’s always smart to bring extra booties because chances are, some will get lost.
It’ll take some time for your dog to adjust to the boots, and he’s probably going to walk a little funny at first. For this reason, avoid trails that you know are extremely rocky that could cause injury.
There are other precautions you have to take when hiking with your dog. During the summer, make sure the temperature isn’t too hot. Whereas you might think it’s just kind of hot, remember your dog has a full coat of fur.
Also, keep your four-legged companion well-hydrated to combat heat exhaustion. Choosing trails that are shaded will aid in keeping your dog cooler.
On the flip side, your pet can also get too cold. When it’s colder out, keep your pet out of the water and make sure snow or ice doesn’t get packed into their pads. If your dog starts excessive panting, drooling, stumbling or acting disorientated, tend to him immediately.
Either your backpack is going to be a little heavier or you’re going to need to grab a dog pack. Just like you, your dog is going to need plenty of water and, for longer trails, food. A dog specific first aid kit is also vital.
American Hiking Society suggests bringing a collar/harness/leash, identification, water, food, collapsible bowls, plastic bags (for poop), a canine first aid kit, reflective material and extra clothing for when it’s cold.
Some short rules for the trail:
- Keep your dog on its leash at all times.
- Don’t let it drink out of streams and lakes, use water you provide.
- Yield to all other hikers, bikers and horseback riders.
- Remove the poop from the park and go 200 feet from the trail to pee.
- Don’t take him if dogs aren’t allowed.
National parks don’t allow dogs on any of the trails; they have to stay on paved locations. But most national forests and state and local parks allow dogs. All Indiana State Parks allow leashed dogs.
Always check before setting out.