Hiking with Dogs: 5 Tips Everyone Should Know

by Kelsey Kuehl on February 11, 2019

As soon as I grab the hiking pack from the closet, my dog knows what’s about to happen. He doesn’t know where we are going but he is still excited and ready to go. Having a dog be your go-to hiking companion is a great way for you two to bond and no matter what, you always have someone who is down to run around outside. If you plan on hiking with your furry four-legged companion, there are some things to keep in mind before you embark on your adventure together.

1. Know your dog

I have a 5 year old beagle-foxhound mix, so he is high energy and very active. He is a great hiking companion and loves smelling out the trails. But not all dogs are the same, older and bigger dogs might not be able to take on longer hikes, especially in the hotter months, whereas smaller dogs might have trouble climbing. Understanding your dog’s main breed and his or her energy and age is a great way to determine what kind of hike is best for you two to embark on.

2. Bring plenty of water and snacks

It’s a no-brainer that when we load up our pack we make sure to have water for ourselves. But your dog needs just as much if not more, depending on the time of year, type of breed and size. Typically a dog will drink 1-1.5 ounces per pound of water per day. My dog is 35 pounds so he drinks close to half a gallon of water per day. I make sure to bring at least half of that for him on a hike. If you’re not sure, check their nose and if it’s wet, chances are they are under-hydrated. A good rule of thumb is if you are tired, thirsty or hungry, it’s likely that your dog is too, and taking a quick break is the best idea for everyone.

3. Check your trail and leave no trace

Not all National Parks allow dogs, so check it out beforehand. It’s a good idea to do your research for any trail you want to hike, not just National Parks and Forests, as some trails may have their own rules regarding dogs. Leave no trace also applies to dogs, just because they are an animal does not mean you can leave their waste. Bring plenty of doggy waste bags. And just like human waste, you can bury dog waste so you aren’t stuck carrying it all day.

4. Watch out for wildlife

A leash is the best way to keep your dog safe during a hike, whether it is from other animals or dangerous vegetation. Ticks are a huge threat to dogs, so make sure they are up to date on all their flea and tick medications. Doing a quick fur check before getting back into the car and heading home is a good way to prevent them from contracting lyme disease.

5. Practice good trail manners

Not everyone or every dog you encounter on a trail will like your dog. Keep a respectful distance and allow others to pass peacefully. Also be in control of your dog, stay on leash and in control of excessive barking. Commands you use at home should also be practiced on the trail.

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