During my trip to California this summer, I got to go on my very first (serious) hike. That makes me a semi-expert on hiking, right? Well, I thought I would put together some of the key-learnings from my experience so you could have a worry-free adventure with your pups!
Hiking with Your Dog: Tips from a Semi-Pro Dog (me, Hami)
Planning/Pre-hike: Before you go climbing Mt. Everest, make sure you do the following…
- Research the Trail You Are Interested in Visiting – are dogs allowed? Are they allowed off-leash, or on-leash only? How difficult is the hike?
- Make Sure You and Your Dog are in Shape – you wouldn’t enter the Iron Man competition without some proper training first, right? Well, your dog cannot go from 0-to-100 overnight. Make sure your dog is in physical form to hike and choose a hiking trail that is appropriate for their experience level. You want your dog to enjoy it as much as you do and be safe while doing so.
- Think About This: If your dog decides that they have had enough halfway through the hike, get ready to pick them up and carry them the rest of the way. Talk about a workout for you, human!
- Check the Weather – Make sure to check out the weather channel prior to the hike. Too hot? You and your pooch could suffer heat stroke. Too cold? Brrrrr to hypothermia.
- Make Sure Your Pup is Up-to-Date With His/Her Meds – who knows what they can pick up in the great outdoors…worms? ticks? Yuck!
Hike Essentials: You did your research and you are ready to go? Make sure that you carry these items the day of your hike…
- Water & Collapsible Bowl– this is crucial and a non-negotiable, especially if you will be hiking in the hot spring & summer months. We like to pack what we think we are going to need, and then we pack more. It is better to be safe than sorry, we say!
- As a Rule of Thumb: Larger dogs might drink 0.5 to 1.0 ounces of water per pound, per day. Dogs 20 pounds and lighter will be closer to 1.5 ounces per pound, per day. But all dogs are different so just make sure you pay attention to signs that they might be thirsty.
- Snacks and/or Food- you get hungry when you workout, right? Well, so do we! Make sure you bring some yummy treats for your dog as they will work-up quite the appetite.
- Emergency Supplies– because sh*t happens! They sell first aid kits for pups or, you can make your own. For a hike, I recommend tweezers (trust me), antiseptic solution for any type of cut, bandages and antihistamines in case they (or you) develops an allergy to a bug bite. Ouch!
- ID Tag – if for some reason, Fido comes off his leash and makes a run for it (hope this never happens!) then at least he can be IDed and returned home.
- A Proper Leash – retractable leashes might be too hard/too much for you to carry on a hike. They have some great options for waist-worn leashes that will leave your hands free.
During The Hike…Make sure to:
- Yield to Other Hikers and Riders – remember you don’t own the trail!
- Keep your Pooch Under Control – I pawsonally got reallllyyyy out-of-control during the initial start of my hike at Lake Tahoe. I was just so excited! I was yapping and running frantically. So, my human leashed me up (short leash) until we had walked off that excitement a bit. Then, after this, I was let off leash.
- Pick up the Poo – that’s right people! Just because you are out in nature doesn’t mean you can leave your dogs natural body movements for the birds. Don’t forget to bring along enough poop bags to clean up after your dog and then dispose of the poop bag properly when the hike is done.
- Stop Frequently, Take it all in – not only will it be beautiful out in all of mother-natures glory, but your pup will do good to have some breaks.
- Useful 411: If you get hungry, tired, grumpy, thirsty…chances are your pooch is too. Stop and sit under a tree.Take a load off. Enjoy some chill-time with your furry friend and then start back up again once you are both up for it.
- Keep a Look Out for Anything Your Dog Might Eat– new terrain means all sorts of new smells, and tastes! A trail can be filled with marvelous (yet dangerous) things for dogs to ‘taste’. Mushrooms, poisonous plants, insects and lord-knows-what-else! If you catch your dog chewing, make sure you check it out and know what it is that he/she is getting into.
- Do a Post-Hike Check- if your dog is anything like me, then they will be full of burrs and other unidentified objects after a hike. Make sure you check your pup for cuts, burrs and ticks. If you happen to find a tick, pick it off with the emergency tweezers you packed (told you they were handy) and put it in a sealed ziplock for your vet to see (you can never be too sure).
A bath is almost surely going to be needed if the hike was a true success!
Want to see how I did on my first, real hike? Check it out:
Do you have any useful hiking tips/tricks to share with me?? Leave a comment below and let me know!