Dec 04 , 2019
Are you getting into hiking with your dog? Start here with our newest video of our best tips for hitting the trails with your pup!
Don't feel like reading? Watch our YouTube video below and visit our YouTube channel for more where that came from! Bring A Leash
Leashing your dog is a requirement on most designated hiking trails. Regardless of whether you choose to leash your dog on trails or not, always carry one (or two) in your pack in case of emergencies. Retractable leashes are not recommended. They are too long to offer enough control, and they can do considerable damage if allowed to wrap around the legs of other dogs or hikers.
Pack The Right Stuff
It's smart to bring a pack with you on every hike, no matter how short! Always bring more than enough water for you and your dog. Every hiking pack should have a solid first aid kit with the basics for people and dogs, such as triple antibiotic ointment, gauze, self adhesive wrap, and antiseptic. Keep some snacks in your pack, too, and treats for your pup! An extra light source is a must-have emergency item. Keep a headlamp or flashlight in your pack. Reflective dog gear and mini lights that can clip to a collar are nice to have just in case. Don't forget to bring poop bags!
Should Your Dog Have A Backpack?
Some dogs can benefit greatly from a backpack because it gives them a job to do. The extra weight helps them burn more energy. Sturdy, energetic dogs are best in this role. Other dogs may not do as well with a backpack. Smaller dogs and dogs with thin frames are less suited to wearing packs, and the same goes for brachycephalic breeds like French Bulldogs and Pugs. The extra weight may cause them to overheat in warm weather. Dog backpacks can also cause rubbing on dogs with a thin hair coat. We think dogs look pretty cool wearing backpacks, but it's best to avoid the temptation if it's not the best thing for them. No matter what, don't load your dog's pack with more than 10% of his or her healthy body weight.
Always have water available when you hike! We've mentioned it twice because it is that important. Bring more than you need, whether you are hiking in a rainforest or in the desert. If you don't bring water, make sure you hike near water and maybe bring a Lifestraw.
Leave No Trace
Pack it in, pack it out! Be respectful of other people and wildlife. Remember that not everyone likes dogs, so don't let your dog chase wildlife or scare other hikers.
Build Up To It
Know what your dog can handle. Is your dog in shape for hiking? If you aren't sure, do some easy trails first. Look for shorter trails with little elevation gain. It's best to build up to hiking slowly. Pushing your dog too hard can result in overheating or injury. Use apps like AllTrails to plan your route and check the terrain ahead of time. Make sure your dog knows some basic obedience commands, such as Come, Sit, and Wait. Some dogs, like brachycephalic breeds, come with their own set of challenges. They have more trouble breathing and may never be able to safely hike on hot days. Older dogs and overweight dogs also struggle in the heat and with long distances. Take it as slowly as your dog needs in order to keep it enjoyable!
Watch The Weather
Check your local forecast before you head out for the day. Be aware of rain, thunderstorms, snow, ice, heat, and humidity. Keep yourself and your pup safe by not getting caught off guard.
Make sure you and your pup are both prepared for the weather! If it's too hot, it might be best to avoid using a doggy backpack. Consider putting booties on your dogs if it will be icy. Booties also help protect your pup's paws in hot weather on rocky terrain. It's advisable to wear some High Vis gear if you'll be hiking in areas where there may be hunting. Also handy if you need to be rescued in an emergency.
It's safe to keep a collar with ID tags on your dog at all times. We suggest that you microchip your pup in case he gets lost. Dogs who have been microchipped are twice as likely to be returned to their owners than those without chips. If you are traveling, temporary ID info (like your campsite or hotel) can be written on a cheap plastic keychain label. Make sure you have your own ID on your person, too!