Hiking With Dogs | How To Safely Hike With Your Dog?

Hiking is one of the best ways in which you can spend quality time outside. It would be even better if you try out your trail with your pup. Human-canine partnerships in hiking are among the best ways in which you can strengthen your special bond with your best friend. 

Even though it sounds easy, where to start, how to start will be a major concern if you are planning it for the first time. 

Well! We will help ease your worries and make it in the best possible way. 

Why Hike With Dogs? 

Taking short walks around your nearby locations are good, just as involving in games like a Frisbee. 

However, if you are in search of trying out something different, why not try hiking??? 

Hiking is not just a good exercise for your body, but it helps to expand the bonding with your pup along with exploring new terrains and locations. 

This is a fun-filled way to spend more time with your canines. 

Tips for Hiking With Your Dog 

There are many things which you should take care of while hiking with dogs. They can’t communicate regarding what is wrong and hence you will be responsible while taking them off the grid. 

You need proper planning along with training while trudging days through the wild. Most importantly, ensure that all the pest prevention treatments along with all the vaccinations are taken since there are higher chances for picking up the most threatening protozoa from untreated water and many more similar diseases. 

Minding your dog’s backpack with all the necessary items is as important as packing your gear for the trail.

Is your Dog Suitable for Hiking? 

Spending time in the woods with your dog is one of the best time which you can spend outdoors without any other distractions. On the other hand, there are many important factors that you need to consider prior to embarking on your first trial with your pup. 

is your dog suitable for hiking

Apart from this, the pet owners also need to train for the strenuous physical activities like marathons for getting them conditioned before stepping out for the adventure. The activities may include temperature conditioning, stamina building and many more. 

 There are many other factors to check out to determine whether your breed is ready or suitable for hiking outdoors and few of them are listed below: 

Access the trait of your dog

  1. Check on how trainable the pup is
  2. Try to choose the pup which plays nicely with fellow dogs so that the trail would be easier when you meet other canine hikers
  3. Determine the climate versus your pup’s fur
  4. Note down the weight as well as the size of your dog in the practical terms 

Go for the right breed

  1. Choosing dogs with better endurance is a good option while hiking
  2. Pick a breed which is agile
  3. Be careful with some breeds
  4. Choose a dog which can be trained easily 

Train your dog for your trails

  1. Train your dog to carry its backpack on their back
  2. Start at a slow pace and give time for your dog to get into the hiking habits
  3. Check out the endurance and the physical strength of your dog for staying safe during hiking
  4. Check with your veterinarian
  5. Give off-leash training 

Choose Dog-friendly Locations to hike 

Choosing the right location for hiking with your dogs is like picking the right place for exercising your dogs along with enjoying nature. 

However, keep in mind that not all hiking locations are dog-friendly. Even though the dogs are allowed in many areas, there are some environmental features as well as pathways that can be dangerous and might end up in a visit to the vet. 

It is always recommended to start searching for dog-friendly trails on your backyard which are controlled by a city or a town or country government since they will allow your four-legged friends to freely roam around the pavements. 

You can also check out the sites for the parks which are around your city and also for the recreation departments for finding out the best dog-friendly trails. 

It is always better to make good research before heading out than spoiling your hike with out-dated information. The majority of the local parks will be providing you with maps that include all the helpful information. 

Keep in mind that even though there are many areas where dogs are not allowed inside the park shuttle buses, park-run hotels, there are lots of other spaces for hiking with your four-legged friends all through the federal parks system. 

Again, all these are strictly depending on the park and its rules and regulations. There are many differences between the permit of dogs in state, local as well as national parks. 

Apart from the locations you choose for hiking, make sure that the trials are not through rocky or rough terrain and also avoid hazardous conditions like drop-offs and steep cliffs. 

Try to choose shady trails and stay away from outers that get hot quickly. Also, try to avoid hiking trails areas which include mountain bikes and horse use.

Plan when to hike 

If you are in a plan to hike during national holidays or during peak times, then the trial paths would be busier than normal days. Hiking with your best friend during these busy seasons would end up slowing down the entire trip.

It should be handled even more carefully if you are taking your cute pup out which requires more attention. In addition, during this season, it would be necessary to keep your dogs leashed all through the journey.

 Tips for Preparing Your Dog For Hiking !!! 

Before you start with hiking along with your best buddy, there are lots of factors that you need to consider. There are some of the most important elements which you need to tick off in your backpack list while planning for the trip. 

Just like us, dogs also need to know about the techniques for trails and tips on how to overcome the threats they face while on the go. Training them well and preparing well for the hike is where the role of a good pet owner comes into action. 

prepare your dog for hiking

The first important thing to consider is regarding the health of your dogs. Check whether your companion is fully grown and matured. 

If your canine companion is senior, then you need to make sure that he or she can well go with the trails. 

Plan the trail distance according to the age of your dog so that you will never have to force them too long to walk. 

Check out for the breed as well. If you own a brachycephalic dog, be careful regarding the regulation of their body temperature. 

Vaccination 

The foremost important thing while planning for a hike is to check and make sure that your dog is up-to-date with their vaccinations.

It is also necessary to check with your dog’s vet to know whether your buddy is in need of any extra vaccinations for protection against the hazards which they will get exposed while on the trail like Lyme, rabies, etc.

Short Hikes 

If you have never ever taken your dog for a hike before, then don’t ever expect him or her to perform well for 10-mile hiking (out and back). 

Start slowly by taking them for short hikes and gradually increase the distance with time. You can even make use of a 30 feet leash for making sure that your dog is safe enough as well as others too. 

The next option is to take your dogs for shorter hikes with higher elevation. This will work out for both older and younger dogs even though you never wish to a senior dog get into harder hikes.

Reinforce your dog’s obedience training 

It is just your responsibility to keep your pet under your control throughout the hike, while on and off-leash. If you are planning a trip alone, ensure that your pet is within your eyesight and mindful to obey your commands. 

Keep in mind that even if your pet is well trained in all parameters, the thrill of being in a new environment will certainly need a refresher series in obedience. Ensure that your pet knows well how to listen, respond back, heel, stay as well as sit according to your instructions.

Bag Carrying 

Always try to help your pet carry his or her gear on the back itself with the use of special canine backpacks. However, the task is not that easy as you think. You can’t ever throw a backpack and expect your dog to know what to do. 

Choose the backpack which fits the dog and is balanced well. To avoid any kind of hassle during hiking, try to start your trail with an empty backpack and slowly add weights to it. 

Keep in mind that the total weight of the load carried should never exceed one-third of the total body weight of your dog. 

If you are making them wear an overweight backpack, then there are higher chances of getting many serious health issues, right from the bones issues to early arthritis. 

Remember that the smaller dogs or the medium-sized pets will be fully grown at around one year old, while the larger breeds would not be fully grown until they are eighteen months old or so. 

It is always better to check with your vet to know whether your pet is grown enough to carry weights. 

River Crossing 

There are higher chances that you might encounter river crossing while on your trail and hence training your pup to be comfortable in crossing cold water or running water is highly essential. 

You can begin the training by paddling them in slow running water and also in shallow creeks. If they are found to be fine with it, then try to motivate them in crossing deeper streams where they can very well experience cold. 

The majority of the dogs love to be in the water, while it is your responsibility to ensure that they are fine in it prior to making them face it for the first time. 

List of Hiking Equipment 

It is always necessary to carry the right and the most appropriate gear for an enjoyable hike. Some of the most important ones which you need to carry along with you are listed below:

  • Snacks for your dog
  • First aid kit
  • Feces Bags
  • Poop bags
  • Booties for your dogs for them to hike through really rough terrains
  • Bedding and Blanket (if required)
  • Collar with ID tags along with a sturdy six-foot leash
  • Insect repellent which is pet-safe
  • Water supply 

Remember that, just like we take enough training for backpacking and hiking, it is really important to train your canine companions as well. This will definitely help you in making your trip more enjoyable and a special one. 

Is Your Canine friend ok on a leash? 

Even though it is really good for your pet to freely roam around during your hiking hours, there would be times where the need for a leash is really important. 

If your dog is not that comfortable with a leash, then putting them for training will help them become accustomed to it prior to stepping into the wilderness. It is always a tricky subject to use the leashes while out in the woods with your dogs. 

Some of the pet owners will keep their dogs leashed for the entire trip while some others will let them go and run in the wild freely. Before you decide on any of these tricks - either to set them free or to tie them up - knowing well regarding how much to use a leash in a trail is really important. 

However, certain pavements will enforce the usage of leashed for a wide range of reasons. It is because that the hike may be included with families along with their kids, who in turn may feel fearful with an unleashed dog. Or sometimes the rule would be to safeguard the unleashed dogs from jumping into high-risk terrain. 

Trail Etiquette for Dogs and Owners 

trail etiquette for hiking

Leash and Harness 

Try to have better control over your dogs throughout the hike: This statement points to the fact that the dogs should respond to their masters regardless of the situation. They should always be within the eye or earshot. 

If you ever think that the pathway you have chosen is dangerous or you feel that the dog might jump into other fellow hikers, then try using a leash that is around six feet or even less than that for safety purposes. Even if you are inside a campsite, make sure that your canine companion is not roaming freely.

Yield to the fellow hikers: Try to train your dog to heel if any others approach.

Communicate practically: While on the trail, if you ever meet some other hikers, let them know that your pet is friendly and so connect to them calmness.

Try to manage a single dog while hiking: If you are in a plan to bring more than a dog for hiking, then take someone along with you to help you out. Even if there are more number of hikers in your group, it is not the best practice to manage more than one dog at a time since 3 or more dogs become a pack and these might be really hard to manage.

Should not leave any trace: Take out all the things which you have bought out for your hiking trip. You should never step on the plants or let your pets walk on top of the delicate surfaces. Stay on the right route. 

Make sure that you carry the dog’s poop. If you are planning for an overnight trip, then carry a shovel for burying it at least eight feet deep and a minimum of 200 feet away from the camp locations or pathways or the water streams.

Care for the wildlife: Ensure that your dog won’t stray off the pathway for chasing other animals or run green or walk on the water unnecessarily. It is highly important to preserve and save all the natural flora as well as the fauna from your excited and enthused four-legged friend.

Tips for Dealing With Dog Poop 

It is the responsibility of every pet owner to make sure that the dog doesn't poop in the woods. This will certainly disturb the native fauna. 

The majority of the wild animals will be communicating through scent, even fecal as well and in this manner, the poop of your dog will be disruptive to the territorial claims and might end up in distress for the other animals. Hence it is vital to care about nature and avoid these kinds of disruption while planning a hike. 

Poop Disposal: On short hikes and Multiple hikes 

While backpacking, make certain that you take the bags for collecting the poop and to carry it out. If you are traveling for long distances, then take out additional bags for ensuring against leakage. 

On the other hand, if you are staying overnight and do not wish to carry it out, bring a shovel for burying the poop. If you are burying it, then you don't need to use a bag for it. Make sure that you take a deep hole which is a minimum of eight feet and is 200 feet away from the trails or the water sources. 

Things to Consider While Backpacking for Dog-friendly Trails


Is there any shady areas? 

If you are planning a hike during hot seasons of the year, then choosing a trail path that has shady areas will help your pets enjoy the trail in a safer way.

Check out the water sources on your hike 

Checking for the right water sources is highly important, especially if you are planning for multi-day trails as it will help you and your dog stay hydrated. Else you will need to carry additional water bottles that your dog can’t hold in its backpack.

Check whether the water is safe to drink 

Just like we would not consume unfiltered or any kind of contaminated water while in the woods, nor should the pets. Filter your water wherever possible from the lakes or streams prior to offering it for your dogs.

 It is better if your dog is leashed mostly as there are fewer chances for them to drink water everywhere. Check out what kind of bugs or parasites are present in the water in the area which you hike.

Check for the presence of other animals or predators 

If you really wish to roam with your best buddy freely in the woods, then make sure that the area which you choose would not encounter the presence of other wild animals unlikely. 

On the other hand, if you are expecting some kind of real wilderness experience, then the wild predators can be expected. Research well regarding the area which you have planned for hiking and this, in turn, will help you stay safe and secure with your pup. 

 What to Take While Hiking? 

what to take while hiking


Food

Just like planning your nutritional requirements, plan your pet’s diet as well. There is no special diet chart or right or wrong answer while planning the nutrition for the pup while on the hike. 

No one else can judge the dietary needs of your dog like you and hence you should take initiative on it. If you are taking your dog out for a long hike, then packing the right amount of the food should be done with the utmost consideration. 

Sort which food would be best for the climate and the area in which you are planning to hike around. 

Some of the elements which you should consider while packing dog food for hiking may include: the food should be delicious and not messy, it should be of high calorie, need to light in weight, well packed inside a container and above all it should be easily digestible. 

Try to choose dry foods which are rich in protein content as well as fat levels as it would give your pet an additional boost in their energy levels. 

Ensure that you feed them with a small portion in every half an hour throughout the day. Make them stay hydrated with high protein dog foods if you are planning for long trips. 

Water 

It is really vital to stay hydrated well, especially if you are on multi-day trips. Use your thirst guide for treating your dog and offer them whenever you stop for taking a sip. 

Ensure that you give enough water for your dog and carry a collapsible water bowl with you while hiking.  

Sleeping pad and blanket 

Choosing the right sleeping bags for your pet will help her stay warm and snug. This, in turn, will help them in setting up well for the next day’s adventure. A well made and versatile sleeping bag will give a casual resting place for your buddy while traveling or during adventures.

Choose the dog sleeping bags according to the requirements. It is necessary to first decide on whether to camp in freezing temperatures or just a normal long day hike. 

The sleeping bags are available in varied sizes and styles and hence choose the one which meets your dog’s requirements. 

Dog Care 

Knowing how to make use of the first aid kit of dogs is of high importance if you are planning on back country trips with your dog. 

Their excitement and curiosity for smelling as well as experiencing new things while visiting new places will sometimes get them to some pickles which their brain cells cant anticipate. 

Even though you pack the right and the best first aid kit for your dog, make sure that you prevent them from anything going wrong. 

The first aid kit should always include pet-friendly antiseptic, bandages which are heavy-duty, gauze, styptic swabs, liquid bandages, and antibiotic ointment. 

It is also advisable to take with you some canine sunscreen and also a bottle of Tecnu for use in emergency situations. 

Check for the climate in your hiking area. If you are planning in cold regions, then there are high chances for your dog’s paws to get exposed to grazes as well as cuts and hence making use of a pair of good booties will keep them on track for a long time.  

The Most Common Dangers and Threats to Dogs While Hiking

threats while hiking

 Climate Extremes: Extreme weather conditions, slippery ice, exposure to heat and dehydration are some of the factors which pose danger. Try to keep them out of midday heat and sun heat and also make sure that you pack enough water for them.

Overexertion: Excitements can turn out to be exhausting. Always mind your dog’s heart rate as well as breathing rates. If your pup is not able to recover even after a break, think of making the camp a bit early.

Falling: Try to avoid unstable terrains, trails which are too steep and also cliffs. Even if you are moving on tough terrain, backpacks with a handle can help your dog climb all the way.

Paw injuries: Moving on rough terrains and the sharp rocks on the way will expose them to cuts and scrapes. Pack a set of booties and even a few additional ones in your backpack. If ever you see the dog limping, then it is recommended to wind up for the day.

Plants: Certain species of mushrooms, poison ivy or oak, hemlock, and many other prickly ones can damage the tiny legs of your dogs. So if you ever see them grazing on the greenery, try to call them back.

Pathogens: Drinking contaminated water is not safe since it may include coccidia, giardia or even leptospirosis and this will certainly make your pup feel sick and will end up in showing signs and symptoms such as vomiting, weakness, and diarrhea. In certain high-risk locations where there are lots of campers or cattle, don’t let your dog drink much water from those lakes or water sources since the water might be stagnant.

Unfamiliar territory: While taking your city pup to a wild country setting, there are many things that can go wrong. Don't just blindly believe that your dog knows well to survive in nature.

Footnote!!! 

Hiking and packing with your canine friends will add a different dimension to your outdoor trips in the woods. Dogs are those animals that possess a knack of being energetic as well as positive. 

If you include dogs in your hiking trips, then it will definitely be a boost to your morale. The only thing which you need to take care of is to be prepared and train the dogs well before the trial and in this way, even the fellow hikers will love your doggie the best way. 

how to safely hike with your dogs

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