Hiking with Fido

by | Dog Care |

Many people have been enjoying the benefits of the great outdoors this fall, many with their animals too. Here are some tips for hiking with your dog this fall!

Here are some things to consider before hitting that trail head with your pup, taken from our blog Into the Great Wide Open: Hiking with your K-9 companion.

Your dog’s age and physical fitness level

Older dogs in poor physical health are happy to stay home with friends or caregivers; they’ll also be much safer. Healthy dogs are typically eager to hit the ground running (literally!). Just make sure they have the physical conditioning to keep up with the intensity of the hike. Most importantly, keep your dog comfortably cool and consistently hydrated, hiking can be hard work! Your veterinarian can help you decide the level of activity appropriate for your dog.

Park and trail rules, regulations and etiquette

Before you pack your car and head out, call ahead to ensure the park or trail is pet-friendly. Some parks and trails prohibit dogs, so avoid frustration by doing your research ahead of time and targeting dog-friendly sites. Even in dog-friendly locales, leashes are a safety must and control of your dog should be maintained at all times. Take care to select a leash that will afford your dog a degree of comfort and freedom, but at the same time possess the strength and durability to keep him safe and secure.

Leash free?

While it is tempting to want your dog to enjoy nature’s solitude and sprint about the trees untethered, be vigilante about safety. Besides potentially disturbing other hikers, your dog could get lost in a large, unfamiliar space and find himself frightened and confused. A strong, safe leash is your dog’s safest option and his best defence against becoming lost or injured. Don’t forget to secure your dog’s collar, complete with an identification tag listing your family’s contact information.

Supplies

You’ve researched your hike route and ensured your dog’s safety by choosing a strong leash and identifying him in case of loss. Now it’s time for provisions!

Food and water are essential supplies to bring when going on a hike. A lightweight, collapsible water dish is a must-pack and protein-rich food and treats will maintain your dog’s strength. The entire family should take care to hydrate with clean, cool drinking water and your dog is no different. Try not to let your dog drink unfiltered water from puddles or bodies of water that may contain illness-causing bacteria.

Clothes and boots

We all like our body temperatures to commensurate with the season – cool in the warm weather, warm in the cool weather – and dogs are no different. Most dogs benefit from at least a thin layer of fabric to shield their bodies from the elements (and keep them as clean as possible!). Boots are a great option for dogs whose paw pads are sensitive to salt, ice and sharp debris.

Waste

Even on a family hike, the rules of ‘stoop and scoop’ still apply. Don’t forget to pack your favourite biodegradable poop bags and most importantly – use them! Drop soiled bags into your nearest waste receptacle upon leaving the park or trail.

Now you’re ready to get out there and enjoy the great outdoors with your furry friend!