By Karin Krisher
Though it sounds like the most simple of outdoor activities, there are steps you must take to ensure your hike with your dog will be a success. Scoping out the right trail for your dog is a great place to start.
First, make sure that the place you have in mind allows dogs on the trail. (Without this step, you’ll both arrive at your destination only to be greeted with sheer disappointment.) Call the park or visit the trail’s website. Checking out this great resource can help, too.
Next, think about your dog’s fitness level before choosing a trail. If you can’t go from a short jaunt to a marathon distance in one day without experiencing some painful afterglow, chances are your pup can’t, either. You don’t want a beautiful hike to be punctuated by a visible limp or an audible, “Mom, that was way too much walking,” whimper. If you want to take you Chihuahua up a serious mountain, maybe you should rethink your strategy. However, if you and your Golden Retriever want to play fetch around the hiking trails at a local reservoir, you’ve got the right idea.
Some large dogs will experience joint discomfort when faced with steep slopes. Check out your breed’s general fitness capabilities before forcing your dog into an exercise he won’t be able to handle.
If your dog already knows basic voice commands, you should be all set to let him roam—but an I.D. tag is completely necessary. Your next move will be to create a hiking kit to make the experience as enjoyable as possible. Include basic first aid items, a small water dish, bottled water, plastic bags, Pet Naturals Flea + Tick spray or wipes, a photo of your dog, and your vet’s information. Better safe than sorry!
Now, you should be ready to go. When you get to the chosen destination, keep your dog close. Usually, a leash is a must, though many places allow off-leash hours if your dog is within hearing distance. If you’re comfortable with that, be sure to take after-hike measures to ensure your wellness and his: check him all over for ticks, give him a killer bath (with gloves!) to negate any poison ivy contact, and keep an eye on his health, just in case he came into contact with a strange snake, bug or other creature.
If you’re prepared to take on all of these tasks, hit the trails! Trust us, the rewarding feeling you’ll get from taking a hike with your dog will be well worth the effort!
Have you gone on a hike with your dog? Post a picture in our comments section!