Spending time outdoors is a great way to boost your mood and stay in shape. But, did you know that it's an excellent activity for your dog? If you have a furry friend at home, hiking with your dog can be a great way to get them to burn off some of that excess energy and a good way to build a strong bond with you.
If you are thinking about hiking with your dog, but you never have before, read our following guide to adventuring with your canine companion. These tips can help ensure you are both ready for the journey, that you've packed everything you need for a day hike, and that both of you enjoy the hiking trip.
1. Make Sure Your Dog Is in Shape
Dogs are like humans—not everyone is in great cardiovascular shape, and not every dog is physically strong. If you are going hiking with your dog, make sure that your dog is in good enough shape for the adventure. Make sure your dog can complete long walks without breathing too heavy or fast. Also, make sure your dog doesn't have pain in its hips or paws, which might make it difficult for them to hike—or might result in extra pain when the hike is over.
If your dog doesn't seem in shape enough to go hiking with you, then take some time to start going on long walks and playing harder games of fetch. After some time, your dog's endurance and strength will be up, and then you'll both be ready for the big excursion.
2. Get the Right Length and Type Lead
Consider where you're hiking. If dogs must remain on leashes, you should get the right length and kind of leash for hiking. No one type of leash is right, but you should pick the material and shape of leash that suits you. Do you prefer holding onto a soft leather leash, or do you like a canvas leash that can clip around your waist so you can be hands-free? Consider the physical terrain of where you are going hiking with your dog and what the terrain demands.
The length of the lead you use for your dog will determine the dog's ability to roam and explore free from you. If you're navigating rocky terrain or high elevation, you may want a shorter lead that will give you more control over where your dog can go. The best leash for hiking with your dog depends on the situation, but make sure you consider this before you head out and end up with a lead that doesn't make sense for your circumstances.
3. Bring a Water Bowl and Water
Dogs need to stay hydrated just like humans do. So, if you are going for a hike, make sure to pack water for yourself. Then, make sure to bring water and a water bowl for your dog, too. Every time you stop to drink, you should probably assume your dog would want a drink of water, as well. You can pour some water from your canteen or water flask into a dog bowl if you don't want to carry two separate water containers. Alternatively, there may be water located where you are hiking and you can fill up a bowl there.
One of the most convenient tools for hiking with your dog is a collapsible water bowl. This small rubber bowl collapses into itself so it's flat when you pack it in your bag, can hold water when your dog drinks, then collapses back onto itself so it can be flat and packed away.
4. Choose Terrain Your Dog Can Manage
Forget whether your dog is in shape or not—some hikes are just too hard for a dog that doesn't have hiking experience. Check out the trail's difficulty and make sure there aren't going to be parts of the hike your dog can't manage. If you get to a portion of the hike where your dog doesn't understand how to go over or under something, they don't want to cross water, or they don't know how to navigate steep dropoffs carefully—you may feel stuck during the hike, or like you have to end up carrying your dog.
Spend some time really looking at the ins and outs of the trail and gauge if your furry friend has the skills to manage the entirety of it. If the route you were planning to take when you decided to go hiking with your dog is too hard, find a simpler trail, and practice until you think your dog is ready.
5. Bring Treats for Your Dog (and Snacks for You)
You may need to refuel during a hike. For refueling, you probably will pack things like trail mix, protein bars, jerky, and other high-energy treats that come in small packages that are easy to tote. If you're going to feed yourself on a hike, make sure you feed your pup, too.
Pack some treats for your dog that are high calorie and high-value to them. If you have great treats on you, not only will you both get to stop and enjoy re-energizing together, but you'll also have something to lure them back to you should they be off lead and wander too far away, or if you need to pull them away from something that poses a risk to them.
Consider getting a pocket blanket that folds up and is lightweight to spread out and sit down on when you and your dog need a snack break. Then you can really rest up and regain your energy while you refuel, so you're ready to go on the rest of your journey.
6. Be Aware of Local Wildlife
Look into what wildlife lives where you're hiking. Be prepared to face any of those critters if you're hiking with your dog. Lots of animals don't care about humans, but some care much more about dogs (i.e., a coyote might be tempted to take a little tiny dog, and a mountain lion may stay away from a human but not a dog). If you are hiking with your dog and you plan to let your dog run off-leash, it is especially important that you keep your eyes peeled for predators that can hurt your dog. Make sure you research if there are snakes around since snake bites can be lethal.
If there are snakes around, try to keep your dog on a leash on the path with you. That way, any snakes you encounter will at least be visible. To protect yourself from snake bites, consider getting snake gaiter leg guards.
7. Shop Pike Trail Before You Go Hiking With Your Dog
If you're convinced that you want to go hiking with your dog and you're ready to gear up for the experience, visit Pike Trail's online store. Pike Trail is an online retailer that sells only tried and tested hiking goods, so you can ensure that the gear that you buy is reliable and sturdy when you're out in the wilderness.
When you shop at Pike Trail, you can find items that will help you have a good time on your journey—like waterproof hiking socks. You can also find goods that your dog will appreciate, including a pocket blanket to stretch out on the ground so you can both sit and picnic when you need a rest.
Head to the Pike Trail shop to pick out your gear today. Once you've stocked up and prepared your route, you can grab our furry friend and get out onto the trails. You'll both benefit from that time spent out in nature, and you can also benefit from the strong bond that is built from going on a hike together, as well.