Tips for Hiking with Your Dog

Puppy in Car ShortSometimes a dog can be the best companion on a hiking trail. Hiking with a dog  gives you the best of both worlds. It allows you some quality alone time without really being alone. You still have a friend to share in the adventure, but you also get some much needed solitude.

But you can’t just hop into the car with your dog and hit the trail. There are some things you have to consider first.

Some trails don’t allow dogs. Dogs are allowed in many National Parks, but it usually limited to roadways and campgrounds. Most National Parks do not allow dogs on the trails. However, there are state parks and natural areas that do allow dogs on trails. Dogs are allowed in National Forests, but they must be leashed. Just make sure you do your research to determine whether or not the trail is dog-friendly before heading out.

Bring a leash. Even if your dog is fine off leash, bring one. Most public trails actually require that dogs be on a leash no more than six feet long. In an ideal world, every dog you will encounter on the trail is well-trained and as sweet as can be, but that’s not always the case. For the safety of you, your dog, and everyone else, make sure to bring a leash.

Let’s say your dog exceptionally crafty and slips the leash. Maybe she caught a scent, or decided to chase a squirrel; in either case, your pooch ran off. Before you take your dog hiking, make sure that you will be able to spot them.  A reflective collar and or a brightly colored bandana, will make it easy to see your dog in the even that they run off.

Water and food are two of the heaviest items that you have to bring on a hike. Make your dog carry their weight! You can get a special pack for your dog that attaches like a harness with pockets for carrying their food and water. However, don’t give them too much weight to carry. They can get tired from an overloaded pack just like humans can. A dog shouldn’t carry more than 10%-25% of their weight, depending on their breed, health, and age.

Consider your dog’s capabilities. Older dogs that used to run trails for days might not have the steam to do long hikes anymore. Similarly, puppies have seemingly endless energy, but only for brief stints. Start with shorter hikes to see how your dog holds up to trail life.

Dogs will drink just about anything, especially if they’re parched. A dogs stomach might be tough, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get sick form drinking contaminated water. Avoid letting your pet drink from questionable water sources. Stay away from stagnant pools that look like they could harbor viruses or harmful bacteria. To be safe, bring a water filter. This is a good idea for you as well as your dog.

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