Hiking isn't really my thing. I prefer a cushy indoor life at Buffalo Companion Animal Clinic, but I know many of my dog friends would jump at the chance to go hiking. If you and your dog are planning a hike, we have some tips for you below.
June is Great Outdoors Month, which is something we truly appreciate here in Minnesota. People and their pets wait months for the weather to turn nice enough that they can spend more time outside than inside. Hiking is just one of the activities that dogs and people enjoy doing together during the summer. Before you head out on your next adventure, we recommend scheduling a preventive care exam
to ensure that your dog is healthy and up-do-date on vaccines.
Planning a Hike with Your Dog
The first thing you need to do is locate the right trail
and make sure you understand its rules and etiquette. If a park allows dogs on the hiking trail, you need to keep your dog under your control at all times. That means using a leash and harness, yielding the right-of-way to other hikers, and investing time in behavior training so he doesn’t go after other dogs or people.
As with walking in a local neighborhood, you’re responsible for cleaning up your pet’s waste. You then need to bury the bag at least six to eight inches deep in a hole that is a minimum of 200 feet from the trail, water sources, and camp sites. Additionally, be sure to monitor where your dog urinates so it’s not too close to a source of water.
You will want to start training at home by placing an empty pack on your dog and gradually increasing both the weight of the pack and the time you walk each day. The weight of a full pack shouldn’t exceed 25 percent of your dog’s body weight. Keep in mind that puppies under one year old generally don’t have the bone strength to carry their own pack on a hiking trail.
Pet Supplies to Bring on Your Hike
A first-aid kit is essential when you’re in the woods and far away from immediate help. It should contain your dog’s regular medication, swabs, rubber gloves, saline, heavy-duty bandages, pliers, a whistle, and lights and bells for her collar. Other things to include in your pack or your dog’s pack include:
- Her regular food
- Food and water dishes
- Dog coat for cooler weather
- Booties to protect her paws pads and nails
- Nail clippers and file
- Cooling collar
- Towel for baths and wiping off paws
Check for Fleas and Ticks
Being in a wooded environment increases the likelihood of your dog picking up fleas and ticks. Since an undetected tick can lead to Lyme disease
, it’s important to check him from nose to tail at the end of every hiking session. Be sure to comb his fur daily and to remove ticks with a pair of tweezers immediately if you spot one. A flea and tick collar or preventive medication can help make your dog’s time on the hiking trail more enjoyable as well.
Photo Credit: tntemerson Creative / Getty Images