Hiking is a super fun hobby to get into, especially if you have ‘man’s best friend’ to accompany you. And let’s be honest, at the end of the hike, the two of you have had such great exercise that you’re both ‘pooped’ and ready for the rest of the day/night to be relaxing (which is ideally when you both lounge on the couch and fall asleep early).
But, just because the two of you have so much fun on your hikes, doesn’t mean problems can’t arise. Issues can come up whether you’re on a small path with your pooch, or a long trail.
So, prior to heading outside for a hike with your dog pal, check out below what you need to know in preparation.
Be sure to know and understand your dog’s breed.
Sure, most dogs can hike approximately a mile, at minimum. But, you need to keep in mind, that some dogs can only go half a mile, while other dogs can keep going on a hike for hours with you.
You need to know your breed.
For example, Dachshunds have severe back problems, therefore making it highly difficult to hike for more than a mile. The pain just doesn’t allow them to keep going. Dachshunds are not the dogs you want to bring with you if you’re going to be outside for a while, especially if you’re going to be going up and down hills.
Other little dogs are unable to keep up with hikes, too. Such dogs consist of Maltese, Yorkshire Terriers, and Chihuahuas. The cold weather impairs their ability to go on long walks in general.
Even still, there are other dogs that cannot be outside when it is extremely warm out, as overheating may occur. Such breeds consist of bulldogs and pugs. But, if you’re unsure about what your dog’s breed is, or if you’re concerned if your dog is in the list of overheating, check in with your local vet.
To go even further, watch out for breeds like Hounds. Hounds aren’t bad to hike with; You just need to keep in mind that they are ruled by their noses. In other words, if they smell something that they’re interested in, they may stray away for a little bit, leading you to go chase them. If your Hound is well trained, or if you don’t mind this happening, this is not a problem for you.
Learn your dog’s limits if you still want to hike with them.
If you simply have more fun with your dog around, and you like going on hikes with him/her, go for it. If they can’t do as much as you’d like them to do with you, just be patient and learn their limits. Go on long hikes alone and go on short, fun hikes with your pup. This also pertains to if you have a mixed breed; Test the waters and find out what’s best for him/her.
Don’t forget to consider your dog’s personality, though. If your pup is nervous when placed in certain circumstances, or if he/she is more likely to want to lounge around the house rather than go outside and run around, take that into consideration. Don’t pressure them to do anything they don’t want to do.
And, if you want to try and work up to longer hikes, that’s okay. As long as you ease your dog into the hobby, everything should be fine.
There are a few main commands, know them.
Whether you want your dog to be on a leash or off a leash, he/she should know some basic commands before leaving the house for a hike. Knowing that your dog knows how to, “sit,” “stay,” and “lie down,” will provide comfort to you and reassure you that he/she can behave well on a hike.
However, there is another command many people demand your dog know, and that’s to “leave it.” This command will most commonly be used when passing a dead animal or something you don’t want your dog going near.
Remember, don’t let your dog off the leash until he knows all of these commands perfectly. If he/she is just getting used to them, he/she may run off and disobey you.
To make it easier for your dog to learn these commands, have treats handy. Reward him/her for listening to you. And throw in a recall word that they may not hear every day, just in case they need that extra help remembering.
Make sure you watch what they eat.
Keeping your dog on a leash is probably the most preferred, and the safest way, to go on a hike with him/her. I say this because of many reasons, but let’s target a specific reason for now: You don’t want your dog eating anything they shouldn’t be eating. For example, you don’t want your pup going over to a dead animal to chow down, as this could be harmful to your dog, and well, it’s disgusting.
If your dog does get a hold of something like a dead animal, make sure you monitor him/her for signs of distress. Remember, the animal may have rabies, especially if it’s a raccoon. If you suspect this, go get medical attention for your pup as soon as possible.
Have an emergency plan just in case something goes wrong.
Even if you’ve managed to dodge the bullet several times, and nothing has gone wrong during all of your hikes, don’t get too excited. Something can always happen. Keep a first aid kit handy for times like this.
In the first aid kit, you should have antihistamines in case of bug bites or stings, along with what is known as styptic powder solution. This is a mechanism that stops your dog from bleeding on minor injured areas.
Many people also recommend bringing a whistle with you. Even if your dog is not trained to respond to one, he/she will be alarmed when hearing it, therefore giving you adequate time to get him/her back on the leash or get him/her away from what they were going for in the first place.
Lastly, always be sure to check for ticks, no matter where you are in the world. They are present everywhere. Be sure to avoid all those crappy diseases that they carry. If you’re worried, go to the local vet to make sure your pup is tick-free. And, keep those pups hydrated throughout the hike. Just because they aren’t panting, doesn’t mean they aren’t thirsty!
By Jenny Lyn