Ah…the great outdoors! Hiking is an efficient way to enjoy the benefits of being active outside. Spending time in nature can reduce stress levels and promotes a balanced well-being, for both humans and doggos! Before anyone takes their pup on a therapeutic trek, however, it’s essential to prepare you both for a safe and enjoyable experience. Consider our tips to ensure the safety and comfort of your dog so you can both enjoy your trip together.
If you are newer to hiking with your dog, or it’s your first time, consider asking yourself the following questions:
Should my Dog go Hiking?
Not every dog is right for trail hiking. Essential aspects of this to keep in mind are the dog’s age, physical conditioning, and breed.
A dog too young or too old may pose health risks while taking on a strenuous hike. Puppies may appear like they have a ton of energy, but a demanding hike can put their growing bodies at risk of heatstroke, exhaustion, or injury. If your pooch is older, the same rules apply where it may be too hard on their body to go hiking. Play it safe by double-checking with your veterinarian to make sure your dog checks all the boxes for an adventure.
Stamina and physical conditioning also play a massive role in whether your dog will enjoy a longer trek vs. a walk around the park. Start with an hour’s worth of a hike with an easy inclination and observe your dog’s energy levels during and afterward.
Lastly, various breeds of dogs, such as pugs and french bulldogs, have shorter nasal passages and other complications with their respiratory systems that can raise their chance of heatstroke and exhaustion during physical exertion. Because of this, hiking may not be the best for these types of breeds. It is possible to mitigate these challenges by going at a slower pace, taking frequent breaks, and hiking on cooler days.
Does the Hike Allow Dogs?
It’s easily assumed that dogs can hike with you anywhere, but that’s definitely not the case. Always double-check whether the trail you plan to visit allows dogs and if it does, to be aware of any restrictions. Failing to abide by the trails restrictions and rules may manifest into a stiff fine and an unwelcome response from your fellow hikers.
It may seem unfair that your dog can’t enjoy every nature escape out there, but those restrictions serve a valuable purpose to our ecosystem. Bringing outside animals into preserved natural habitats can impact the delicate environment. It puts wild animals at risk while pushing the sensitive ecosystem out of homeostasis. Always check the wilderness area’s rules because not every trail will have the same rules. You can find National Park rules here.
What is Proper Dog Hiker Etiquette?
To ensure you are respecting Mother Nature as well as your fellow hikers, follow the foundational National Park B.A.R.K rule whenever you take your dog for a hike.
B.A.R.K. stands for:
- Bag your pet’s waste
Bagging your pet’s waste AND throwing it in a proper trashcan, NOT on the side of the trail. It’s important to always bag it too. Allowing your dog to poo in a sensitive ecosystem can disturb wildlife and even affect the water supply.
- Always leash your pet
Keeping your dog on its leash is courteous to other hikers and keeps your dog safe and in control. It prevents your dog from getting into trouble, such as a dangerous animal encounter or eating something toxic to dogs.
- Respect wildlife
- Know where you can go
Keep your pooch with you on the trail to help preserve natural habitats. It protects wildlife and the ecosystem.
It’s also respectable to yield other hikers and have your dog sit next to you to let them by.
What do I Bring?
For a truly enjoyable hike, you’ll want to come prepared with appropriate dog hiking gear. Recommended items to include are:
- Water and a portable water bowl
It is vital to have plenty of water for both you and your dog while hiking. Avoid allowing your dog to drink from ponds, streams, and standing pools of water. It may make them sick from possible pathogens in the water.
- Poop bags
- A sturdy 6-foot leash and a collar with legible ID tags
- Dog food/snacks
Looking for healthy hiking treats? Our organic superfood treats are a tasty and crunchy option to keep your fido’s energy tanks full.
- Pet first aid kit
You can find a list of what to include in your dog’s first aid kit here.
- Dog safe bug repellant
You can find organic pet-safe repellent here.
- Dog booties for hiking in rougher terrain
Make sure your dog can walk comfortably in the booties before going hiking in them. This may take some time for your dog to learn as well as finding the booties that best suits it.Now you're ready to have fun and stay safe while enjoying quality nature therapy with your dog.