If you’ve never gone hiking with your dog before, don’t bring your pup to a trail just yet. While hiking might sound nearly the same as walking in the park, it can be a little tougher on you and your pet, especially in more rugged environments. If you aren’t careful, you might risk your dog’s safety due to unforeseen circumstances or pushing your pooch too hard. Likewise, if you aren’t aware of a particular hiking trail’s rules or regulations when it comes to bringing pets along, you may end up incurring a fine or two.
To ensure a safe and fun hike for you and your furry pal, here are a few tips you should take note of:
Make It Easy to Spot Your Pup from a Distance
When you’re out in public, you need a way to quickly identify your dog should they accidentally run off. Fortunately, having your pup wear collars, harnesses, or custom dog bandanas in eye-catching colours and designs can make them easy to spot even from afar. If possible, go for bright or reflective colours so that your pooch can stand out from the greenery of the wilderness.
Prepare Clean and Safe Drinking Water for Your Dog
Hiking takes a lot of energy, and it can make your pup feel really thirsty as a result. That said, it’s not a good idea to let your pet quench their thirst at lakes, ponds, or other stagnant pools of water, as they’re breeding grounds for bacteria. So, be sure to bring some safe drinking water and a collapsible travel cup your dog can drink from.
Pack a First Aid Kit for Your Pet
As you and your pup hike, they may accidentally hurt themselves by stepping on branches, twigs, and sharp rocks. If your pooch is particularly unlucky, they may also get bitten or stung by some bugs. Be prepared for any health emergencies by bringing a well-stocked first aid kit for your fur baby. With it, you can give your dog some temporary relief until you can take them to the vet.
Find Out if the Hiking Trail Is Pet-Friendly
Unfortunately, not all hiking trails allow their guests to bring their pets. However, this is usually for good reason. Some parks have such restrictions in place to ensure the safety of the wildlife and that of other hikers. Other hiking trails may also impose a no-pet rule to keep natural habitats undisturbed. That being said, make sure to check a hiking trail’s website for their policy on bringing pets before you head off, as doing so can keep you from wasting time and energy going there.
Learn the Hiking Trail’s Rules Beforehand
If there’s even the slightest chance of rain during your hike, make sure to bring a dog raincoat to keep your fur baby dry. Conversely, if it will be a snowy day, dress your pooch in a sweater or hoodie to keep them warm during your hikes. You’ll also want to provide them with some comfy dog boots to protect their paws from the cold snow.
If you’ve managed to find a pet-friendly hiking trail, note that they will likely still have rules and regulations for pets and their owners to follow. You’ll be expected to strictly abide by these guidelines not just for you and your dog’s safety and comfort, but for other visitors and staff as well. For example, most hiking trails will require you to keep your dog leashed at all times. This is because off-leash dogs may end up terrorizing wildlife, getting into accidents, or going missing.
Always Prepare for Inclement Weather
Inform Someone of Your Hiking Plans Beforehand
Despite your best efforts, you can never exactly predict everything that can happen during your hike. Just to be on the safe side, make sure to inform someone you trust about your hiking plans before you head off. Tell them where you plan to hike, the amount of time you’ve allotted for the hike, when they should expect you to return, and a reasonable time for when they should inform the police or rangers to come looking for you.
Train Your Dog Before You Hike
Lastly, if your pup isn’t used to going on hikes, it’s best to give them plenty of training before your trip. To start, help them build their stamina by taking them on long walks in the park. You can also teach them specific commands to call their attention and have them return to you in case they get distracted by something on the trail.
Taking your pup on a hike unprepared can come with many hassles and dangers. That’s why you should make your dog’s safety your number one priority so that you can make it through the trail together in one piece. Make sure to follow the tips mentioned above so that you’re ready for any challenges that may come your way during your hiking trip.