Guest post: Roaming the outdoors with your canine companion can be one of life’s greatest pleasures. If you plan ahead and take the right precautions, your hike can be incredibly fun and refreshing for you and your dog, and you can both get in great shape.
Taking your dog into the outdoors has special requirements that you may not think of if you’ve never been. Read this advice and make sure you’re prepared to take your dog into the wild.
- Pack The Essentials
Make sure your dog has everything it needs in the event of an emergency. Pack a first aid bag, and if you’re doing a serious hike, take your dog to the vet first to see if they need any vaccinations or preventative drugs for the outdoors.
You should always have a tick remover if your dog is going outdoors. A tick can burrow into the skin and carry illnesses, and it only gets harder to remove if you wait too long or don’t have the proper tools. If your dog needs any special extras like topical medications, pills, or CBD pet products, make sure you pack them in your dog bag as well.
- Bring Enough Food and Water
A dog who’s exerting themself and working hard on the trail with you shouldn’t go hungry or thirsty. And if something should happen on the trail that requires you to stay out for longer than you think, like getting lost or pulling a muscle, you’ll need to keep them satiated and hydrated.
This guide says dogs need about 0.5 to 1.5 ounces of water per pound per day. Smaller dogs will need less, of course, but make sure you stay on the safe side and bring more than you think you’ll need.
The same goes for food. Your dog won’t have enough energy to get through a long hike if it doesn’t have some nutritious food. Just make sure you don’t work your dog too hard immediately after eating.
- Check Park Regulations
If you plan on hiking in a national or state park, you and your dog may have to abide by special rules. It’s against the law not to follow these regulations, and you could also be doing yourself, your dog, and the park a disservice by not respecting them. You could also incur a significant fine!
Many parks do not allow dogs at all because of sensitive environments. Other parks allow dogs, but not overnight camping or without a leash. Do your research and follow any guidelines to ensure you and your dog have the best experience. Try to plan your trail route in advance, too!
- Don’t Overdo It
Some dogs struggle over long distances. And sometimes, your dog won’t tell you if they’re overexerted — they will just keep loyally pushing themselves beyond their limits to follow you. It’s up to you to make sure your dog isn’t overworking themself.
Do some research on your breed. Certain breeds are much better equipped for hiking than others. If you have a small dog, it’s best not to take them hiking unless you plan on carrying them somehow. Some dogs also have weak knees or joints that make long distances inadvisable.
Look for signs your dog is overtired during the hike. If their breath doesn’t stabilize for a long time after stopping, they need a break. Check their heart rate periodically too to see if it seems higher than normal. If you’re in doubt, it’ll never hurt to take a break and give them some water.
- Work On Your Obedience Training
Even the best-behaved dog can still run away if they’re not used to the outdoors. You need to make sure your obedience training is top notch before you decide to take them off the leash (or even keep them on the leash!) outdoors.
There are many reasons obedience training is especially important in the wild. Firstly, wild species could be in danger from your dog acting on their instincts. Secondly, your dog could get lost or fall off a ledge if they run after a bird or animal. Thirdly, you need to ensure your dog will yield to other hikers and strange sounds. Make sure you at least have “stay,” “come,” and “heel” down pat!
Have Fun Hiking With Your Dog!
We hope these tips have helped you prepare for your adventure. If you take these quick and simple precautions, your time hiking outdoors with your dog can be fantastic. All you have to do is make sure your dog is healthy and prepared, and you’re sure to have a great time!