Hiking With Dogs: Safety Tips, and Gear For Hitting Trail
Hiking with dogs can be a great bonding experience. Before hiking, you and your dog should spend time getting prepared.
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Before Hiking With Dogs: Are You Both In Shape?
The first step to get ready for hiking is getting you and your dog in shape. Start slowly with short hikes on easy to navigate trails. Gradually increase distance and trail difficulty until both of you can navigate the entire route comfortably.
Keep in mind you need to plan for a round trip, so if you’re going on a five mile hike, you need to be able to walk 10 miles.
Do Advance Planning
Before heading out hiking with your dog, check the weather. To minimize heat exhaustion risks for you or your dog, don’t plan a hike for an extremely hot day. Plan to go hiking in the morning when temperatures are cooler, then finish before the heat of the day kicks in.
Choose Hiking Trail
There are websites available that have information on trails around the country and include user ratings, maps, and other helpful resources. One site I found, AllTrails.com, includes weather in the trail area for the next several days, directions to get there and user reviews. A free version is available, and Pro version is $23.99 per year (billed annually).
Don’t Get Lost
Print a map of the trail before heading out. Stay only on marked trails. For trails with a sign-in sheet, sign in and say hello to others.
Hitting The Hiking Trail
What To Pack
- First Aid Kit (one for you and one for your dog)
- Water Bottle (one for you and one for your dog). Also include a few snacks for you and your dog.
- Dog Booties. This may take some getting used to for your dog. Will come in very handy if your dog suffers a paw injury.
- Rescue Harness. An experienced hiker developed the Pack-A-Paw Rescue Harness after reading about a dog left behind when he broke a leg while hiking. His owner had no way to carry him to safety.
- 6 Foot and 30 foot Leashes
- Comfortable Harness designed for Hiking, such as the Ruffwear Flagline
Before hitting the trail, do some training reinforcement with your dog. Ensure your dog comes when called, especially if you encounter other hikers. Teach your dog to “check in” periodically. Many hiking areas do not allow dogs off-leash. An alternative is using a 30 foot leash, which gives your dog some room to explore.
Obey Hiking Etiquette Rules
If you’re walking on a trail that allows bicycles, you have the right of way. Walk on the side to allow bikes to pass you, they should announce their approach prior to getting near.
Those going uphill have the right of way. When coming up behind fellow hikers, announce your presence as you approach so they can move to allow you to pass. If going around a corner and you don’t have clear view ahead, announce your approach so not to startle other hikers.
Other points to cover before your hike:
- Be sure your phone is fully charged
- Ensure your dog is current on all vaccinations, and check with your vet to have your dog cleared for hiking
- Brush up on first aid procedures for you and your dog, especially canine CPR
Hiking with dogs can be a lot of fun. Doing a little preparation and having the right gear on hand will make the experience even better!
Do you go hiking with your dog? If so, please share your experiences and feel free to include any additional resources that work well for you on the trail. We’d love to hear from you!