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How Do I Safely Hike with My Dog?

Stories from HART

How Do I Safely Hike with My Dog?

Sarah Myers

The benefits of hiking with your furry friend are immense.

For starters, it is a good exercise for both you and the dog. Second, it acts as a therapy session for a dog that has been exhibiting bad behavior. For instance, if your dog has been barking, lawn digging or chewing on shoes, hiking can help mitigate those behaviors. Lastly, hiking with dogs strengthens the bond between the owner and his best friend.

Before heading out the door for your first hike, there are a few things you need to keep in mind to keep your journey fun and safe. 

Take Your Dog for a Checkup

While hiking with dogs is beneficial, you will be exposing your dog to the “outside world”. To ensure he or she can endure the physical challenge, take your dog for a checkup. At our office, keep up with any special vaccinations. 

Make sure you learn about preventative measures. As part of your dog’s overall health, train your dog on shorter trails to build endurance. To find these trails, use simple keywords such as dog-friendly hikes near me or dog-friendly trails near me when searching online. 

Learn Trail Etiquette 

Now that you have found dog-friendly trails in your area, you need to learn trail etiquette. By doing so, not only do you maintain control of your dog but you get to keep your dog calm. When on the trail, yield the way for hikers and bikers. 

Keep your dog on a leash to prevent him or her from chasing other hikers, bikers, and dogs. To enforce good behavior, teach your dog to obey a few voice commands. Voice commands are good so even if the dog is out of sight, he still knows how to respond.

Be sure in training that you use a neutral tone of voice and use common commands (so someone else may be able to direct the dog, if needed).

Remember, do not take your dog off leash when hiking. 

Bring Enough Food and Water

If you plan on taking a long hike, it's important to pack enough food and water for two. Unlike humans, dogs are at risk of easily overheating. To keep your dog hydrated, carry a collapsible dish and pour some water for him or her. 

Dog treats also help to keep your pet’s energy levels high especially on a long hike.

After your hike, don’t forget to feed your dog more dinner to ensure ample energy.

Also, when hiking, make sure your dog does not slurp puddles of water. 

Even though you went for a checkup and had your dog vaccinated, bacteria and waterborne pathogens can make your furry friend sick.

Have Your Dog Wear a Doggy Backpack

backpacks provide a simple way for your furry friend to burn extra energy. Not only that. It gives him a sense of purpose. When shopping for one, make sure you find the right size. 

Too big or small can result in injuries or discomfort. Before heading out for the hike, train your dog with an empty pack. Remember, consult Dr. Jessy or Dr. Weimer on specific backpack options.

It is important to include a first aid kit for you but also your pet. This comes in handy in case of injuries, encounters a poisonous snake or plant. For instance, you can pack Pedialyte in case your dog gets diarrhea.

You can also pack extra booties for dogs which offer protection from snow, sharp rocks and thorns. Don’t forget a dog towel, cooling collar, dog coat, nail clippers, file, safety light, and poop bags. Yep, don’t leave a trace on your hike. 


Check on Your Pup
After the hike, be sure to thoroughly check your dog for ticks