The weather is warming up, the days are getting longer, and that means it’s time to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. Dog parents know how much their dogs love going for long walks, especially in the spring and summer when tons of new scents are emerging.
Hiking is a great outdoor activity because it’s both family- and dog-friendly and you get to choose your adventure. You’re in control of where you go, how long you’re out there, when you turn around to head back to the house or car, and how often you take your breaks. There are a few things to look out for when you’re taking such excursions with pets, however. We’ve got your quick guide to how to (safely) hike with pups.
Choosing the Perfect Hiking Trail
Dogs love being outside for any amount of time, but often the longer the better. They want to be able to wander around with you and explore their surroundings, so bring them with you the next time you go on a nature walk! Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing your hiking locale:
Select a hike that fits your dog’s breed and ability level. Hikes differ in terms of terrain, difficulty, length, and more, so choose one that will be safe for your dog. A retriever or shepherd will have much longer endurance and more technical climbing abilities than a basset hound or bulldog, for example. Some dogs will be happy to jump on rocks and over logs as they sprint up the path, while others will be content to walk along slowly and take in the sights and sniffs.
Start out easy if you’ve never been on a hike together before or if it’s your first one in a while. You can always choose a more difficult option next time!
Go during weather that is conducive to safe hiking. This is true for both you and your pup. Prepare for chilly conditions by dressing in layers so you can take them off as you warm up. Always wear sunscreen, bring a brimmed hat or visor, and avoid too much direct sun exposure. Ensure your four-legged companion is safe by taking a look at the temperatures before you head out, making certain that the weather will be safe (not too hot or too cold) for him or her. Excessive exposure to heat can lead to heatstroke, so you’ll likely want to go in the morning when temperatures are most moderate.
Pack snacks and plenty of water. Dogs get tired just like people, and taking regular rest breaks to drink water and consume some sustenance will be key to keep everyone happy and healthy. Let your pup cool down in the shade of a pine tree while he or she sips some water and snacks on dog treats, then get back to the hike.
Be mindful of how far you’ve gone. This is especially true if you’ve just started hiking or haven’t been in a while. Your pup will need time to build up his or her endurance levels after being cooped up all winter, so be sure not to go too far. Exhaustion can lead to injuries or illness, and that’s the last thing you want to experience on your fun hiking day.
- Carry first aid items, for people and for dogs. You likely remember an emergency kit when you’re hiking with people, but have you ever considered what would happen if your pup was hurt on the trail? Lucky for you, there are guides for how to create your own if you’d rather do it yourself. The main items you’ll want to include are bandage wraps or dog booties, gauze pads, antiseptic spray, and hot and cold packs. Keep those things with you at all times, and you’ll be prepared in case your favorite fur baby gets a cut paw or muscle tweak.
Have happy and safe hikes!