Tips for hiking with your dog

If there is one thing which can make hiking the great outdoors even more enjoyable than it already is; it is taking your dog with you.

Hiking is often a solitary pursuit punctuated by short bouts of conversation with fellow walkers we meet on the trail.  But, take your dog with you and he will provide constant companionship and add so much enjoyment to the experience. 

Whether you are going on a short hike from your campsite or traversing one of the great trails, your four legged friend is the ideal travelling companion; he’ll follow you anywhere, will add so much fun and will never (well hardly ever) complain or moan.  What are you waiting for?

However, before you strap on your backpack and head for the wilderness with your pooch, there are some things you need to remember and preparations to make.

Before you set off

First and foremost you must be certain your dog will be physically able to meet the challenge of the hike.

If he isn’t used to long walks, ease him into it over a period of weeks by gradually increasing the length of his daily exercise. 

Make sure he is used to walking with a backpack.  If he hasn’t used one before make sure he has plenty of practise and start him off with lighter loads, gradually increasing the weight over time before you hit the trail.

The backpack

Not yours, the dog’s.  Going on any hike will require extra provisions and the good news is that Fido will carry some of the burden.

Don’t make the pack too heavy and ensure the load is spread evenly.  Pack his bags with food, treats, and pooh bags.  Don’t forget a tennis ball or other toy to keep him amused at stops. 

Take food and water bowls, the foldable types are best as they can be stored easily in the dogs pack.

Ensure you take plenty of water for yourself and your dog.  I always carry the dog’s water as I think it is too heavy for him to cope with, but some canine backpacks are designed for water carrying if you think your pet will be OK with the extra load.

On the trail

When hiking with your dog there are some unwritten rules and indeed some actual rules you need to follow.

  • If you are planning on hiking along a designated trail always check the regulations.  Some trails in National Parks will not allow dogs
  • Some trails which do encourage our four legged friends insist on the dog being kept on a lead (leash).  Although it is always wonderful to see a dog running off-lead those regulations are there for a reason.  Keep your dog securely on the lead at all times.
  • Similarly, when on public trails be aware of your surroundings and keep your dog on his lead.  No matter how well behaved he may be at home a dog is always liable to run after wild or farm animals
  • If the trail is shared by walkers and mountain bikers make sure your dog isn’t able to wander off into the path of a cyclist
  • Clear up after your dog.  If on a short hike double bag everything and find somewhere on your pack to store it until you are able to put it in a bin.  If on longer hikes in the wilderness bury it away from the trail
  • If you are setting up camp at the end of the hike make sure you have brushes and towels to clean your dog before he beds down for the night
  • Make sure your dog has all your contact information on his tags
  • It is always useful to attach a flashing LED to his collar to make tracking him down easier if you do somehow become separated
  • Take basic first aid supplies like bandages and antiseptic in case your dog cuts his paw and always carry a pair of tweezers so you can remove thorns

Enjoy the hike

Taking your dog hiking with you is great fun and there is no one better to share the trail with. 

If you are going camping with your dog, don’t forget to check out the essential items for camping with a dog.

What are some of the tips you use when hiking with your four legged friend.

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