Not Your Ordinary Hike:
Tips When Hiking With Your Dog
A great stress reliever from the hustle and bustle of everyday life is hiking. One can argue that hiking can be the ultimate way to relax and immerse yourself in nature. Although hiking alone isn't bad, it shouldn't always be the norm. Hiking by yourself can become dangerous, especially if you miss a trail and have to rely on yourself. This fact is why you should go hiking with a group or, at the very least, with a companion.
With that said, what if you want to go hiking and don't have friends you can get to tag along for a day or two? An excellent companion to take when hiking alone is your dog. Not only will it be safer, but your dog will also love it.
Of course, taking dogs out for a hike has its difficulties, but all of it can be avoided with careful planning. If you want to take your dog along, here are some tips to heed when going for a hike:
Determine if Your Dog Can Handle the Trail
Before letting your four-legged friend tag along, always determine if they're fit and ready to go hiking. Some dogs can handle the toughness of a hike, while others can't. A significant factor to count if your dog can handle hiking is looking at their fitness.
Even if your dog is a former K9 unit dog, don't bring your dog along if they're obese or overweight. Just like humans, if a dog isn't fit enough for strenuous activities, then it'll have trouble doing it. Here are other factors to count in when bringing a dog for a hike:
Age - Dogs with considerable ages shouldn't be out in tough terrain. Old dogs can have trouble climbing over obstacles and have weaker endurance than younger dogs. Also, old dogs are more prone to injuries in rugged types of environments.
Health - Make sure to visit the vet before you go hiking with your dog, even if you know they're fit. You might not notice subtle changes that can affect your dog's health when out in the woods or mountains. Also, determine if your dogs have specific allergies that they may encounter when going out.
Size - Consider the dog's size when bringing it to go hiking. If your dog is small and the trail you're on has significant obstacles to overcome, they'll have difficulties overcoming it. Trails that require you to cross rivers or streams with a current are also a big no for small dogs.
Behavior - If your dog tends to growl at strangers or dangerously reacts to wildlife, consider getting them on a leash. Also, determine if the place you're going to tends to get crowded. It might be a bad idea to bring dogs that don't do well with others around them.
Pro Tip: If you're using a leash, make sure to get one with a harness. Harnesses are a great way to restrain dogs without excessive pulling on their necks. You can find more tips like this by visiting myopencountry.com/hiking-with-dogs/ and other similar sites.
Training - A dog with training is undoubtedly a reliable companion to bring along a hike. Trained dogs respond well to commands and can help you if something terrible happens on the hike. Although trained dogs don't need a leash, make sure they respond to a "come back" call. Like humans, dogs can be curious and often steer away from the trail. A quick "get over here, boy/girl" can be enough for them to respond and get back to you.
Bringing the Necessities
When hiking, always bring food and water for yourself and your dog. Make sure you both have separate rations. Determine the length or duration of the hike. If you're going to be away for some time, then pack more food with you. Like humans, dogs burn a lot more calories than usual when on a strenuous hike.
Along with bottles of clean water, bring along dog food that'll supply your dogs with the right amount of calories on a hike. Dog biscuits, beef jerky, dried liver, or energy bars made specifically for dogs can be great items to add to the list. These treats can be fed to your dog along the trail without having to be cooked or prepared.
Aside from food, an excellent item to bring is a first aid kit for your dog. Your dog's first aid kit should contain an eyewash should they get sprayed by a skunk on the trail. Saline solution is also good to use when washing the eyes and can also help with cleaning wounds. Antihistamines should also be in your kit should your dog have an allergic reaction to something.
Pro Tip: Always keep your dog hydrated when out on a trail. Aside from keeping them cool, bringing water will keep your dog from drinking from dirty puddles of water that you may encounter during your hike.
A hike in the woods can be a great way to reset and recover from stress. If you can't bring along a friend or go with a group, you can take your dog with you on a hiking trip. Just make sure you're prepared to brave the elements. The tips mentioned above are just some of the many essentials to consider when bringing your dog on a hike.