You love nature, and you want your four-legged furry friend to enjoy it with you after all your dog is your best friend.
However, hiking with dogs carries some responsibility, so to be able to enjoy it.
Your furry companion will need a lot of care and some gear too. You need to plan as you plan for yourself, plus a bit more.
The Basics of Hiking With Dogs
- Ask your vet on what you need to take care of prior hitting that trail.
- Get equipped with any injury treatment gear, medicine, and information on the dangerous plantation, insects, possible hostile animals.
- You might need an extra tent.
- Plan your food and water supplies for 2 “persons.” A dog running through a trail gets thirsty fast. You know that their “ventilation” system is not working as in humans.
- Make sure that your dog has the stamina to be able to follow along physically.
Preparation for Hiking with your Dog
If your dog is not physically ready, then you should wait until their muscular and bone structure is strong enough to cope with hiking. You can begin with a dog-friendly trail.
Depending on the location and kind of environment, you may need specific vaccination or medicines.
Should you have your dog on a leash? Depending on where you hike, you -the dog owner- need to read for any special regulations about dogs.
Leashes are usually a must, along with (depending on the case) dog gag.
Is your dog obedient enough?
Will it follow along or tends to bark/attack on horses, bikes, or other dogs?
Make sure that it is trained not to do so. It is not only about your dog. You need to read and find about proper dog trail etiquette.
It may be a hiking trail inside a forest, but that doesn’t mean you can leave your dog poop as a fertilizer.
Carry all the necessary equipment to be able to collect and clean.
The best way to do all the above is to do some training hikes with your dog.
Pick some short trails so to get your dog familiar with this new thing.
Hiking With Dogs: Dog Backpacks
Yes, there are special backpacks for dogs too.
They fit around their chest, and weight is shared with left and right pouches.
The backpack is not for you to reach and use (of course) but for carrying a series of things necessary along the trail.
After all, you want all the things your dog needs to be easily accessible as you walk, without you having to take your backpack on and off.
Make sure your dog’s backpack has a handle on the top so to be able to control him/her when necessary (i.e., when you meet other dogs).
You need to train your dog to carry a backpack. Dogs need to get used to the extra item on their back and sides and learn how to move with that.
Make sure that the backpack is not heavy. Usually a backpack along 10-12% of their weight is OK.
See this hiking equipment for dogs.
Essential Dog Pack Gear
It is easy.
- A first-aid kit. You need to ask your vet on what to have along. You also need to learn how to use them. That can include medicines to tweezers
- Dog “boots” or booties or paw pads. Well, not boots precisely, but there are specific “shoes” for such cases. In case your dog gets their paws mildly injured, they will become handy. Your dog will get protected from sharp rocks, thorns, snow and anything that may cause injuries or significant discomfort
- “Poop” bags for dogs waste. The “Leave No Trace” concept is valid when you hike with your dog
- Bottle of water. There are special bottles with collapsible dishes for outdoors
- Snacks and treats
- A small dog towel. Before your dog enters the tent, they need to be clean. If they want to cool down by jumping inside a river, you need to dry them up
- A detachable safety light. That must be able to bind on the backpack to keep track of your dog when the sun starts coming down
- Clothing. If the weather is cold, you may need some kind of dog coat to protect them.
- Cooling collar. As said, dogs don’t have the same ventilation system humans have. That will get them more comfortable as they build up heat inside their bodies.
Where Will Your Dog Sleep?
On a multi-day hiking trip, you need to plan for that too.
If you hike solo, plus your dog, then be sure you have that extra space inside the tent.
Your dog needs to sleep on something comfortable and be warm. There is gear for that too.
Food and Water when Hiking with Dogs
As you consume more water and food when you hike, so is your dog. If you walk all day long, this builds up. Your dog needs energy.
For example, water in forests is not the same as tap water. It contains lots of things that may not be good for your health or your dog.
You will need to know the water sources in the path and also carry the means to provide your dog with drinking water.
Consult with your vet on what is the proper amount of water and food intake for your hike. Depending on your dog’s weight, this varies.
A good indicator is you. Are you feeling thirsty or hungry? Logically your dog is too. Usually, they need some water every 30 minutes.
Dogs can get harmed if you don’t pay attention.
For example, you may feel you can walk for more, but your dog may not. Watch your dog and see if they can cool down or how their heat pumps.
Don’t push your dog to “get that extra mile.”
Dogs will use their tongue to explore how things taste. Plantation along the trail may not be friendly, or it can even be poisonous. If your dog tries to eat something, stop it immediately.
If you see your dog acting weirdly, shaking his head continuously, or maybe sneezing, then something is wrong.
Do not think that four legs will work better when crossing bridges or swimming through water. Make sure your dog can swim.
If not, examine the status correctly. You may have to carry your dog on your hands to cross that river.
Conclusion on Hiking with Dogs
Think of your dog as a kid. They don’t have arms to reach and hold, and they depend on you. They need you to feed them and provide water for them.
They need you to provide proper shelter and sleep conditions.
Don’t go out for a long hiking trip at once. Train them into it.
They love you for that, and that is whey they are your best four-legged friends.
Enjoy your trails with them. They are a valuable companion.
Read the legislation and rules from the National Parks Service for hiking with dogs.
Are you new in hiking? Then read this hiking for beginners post.