If you love to hike, then chances are you have considered taking your dog along for companionship and to enjoy the great outdoors with you. However, before you pack their backpack, it’s important to evaluate whether or not your dog is ready for a long hike.
Start by considering whether your dog is a suitable breed for hiking. A small lap dog would not be a suitable hiking dog because of their size and they could easily be attacked by predators. It’s important that your dog have an appropriate body size and body type that will permit them to hike over rugged terrain. You should also consider their coat length and thickness because it’s important that your dog be able to regulate their body temperature.
Take your dog in for a checkup at the vet before going on a long hike. Hiking is not for an older dog that may be slowing down or suffering from arthritis or heart problems. You will want a young and healthy dog that is active on a regular basis. Remember to treat your dog for fleas and ticks before leaving on your hike.
Whether or not your dog is active and in shape is just as important as your own physical condition. You wouldn’t decide to climb a mountain one day if all you normally did was sit and watch TV and the same rule goes for a dog. If you are going to make a regular hiking companion of your dog, you must make sure that they exercise regularly and that they have plenty of room to run and jump and stay active.
Next, you need to ask yourself how well trained and behaved your dog is. This is important, so don’t fib to yourself or try to overlook their training issues. If you do not have constant control over your dog at home, they are definitely not ready to go hiking. Your dog needs to be able to follow these rules to be ready for a long hike:
-They must respond to all verbal commands without hesitation.
-They must be leash trained and able to respond without aggression to other hikers and dogs.
-If your dog has a barking problem, be courteous to other hikers and leave them at home
-Make sure your dog is in shape by training weeks or months beforehand.
It’s important to follow these behavior and training rules for safety and to be courteous to other hikers. Not only will fellow hikers appreciate your efforts but you and your dog will enjoy the hike so much more if there are no mishaps or behavioral problems.
Once you are sure your dog is physically ready to meet the demands of a long hike, you will need to gather some basic hiking supplies for your dog.
1.A quality collar and leash or a quality harness for better control and safety with identification information attached.
2.Get your dog a lightweight backpack to carry some of their supplies. Do not load the pack to more than 25% of your dog’s body weight.
3.You may want to purchase protective footwear for your dog. They make paw covers that can be used to add traction, warmth or protect their pads from damage.
4.Attach a bright neckerchief to keep a potential hunter from mistaking your dog for another animal.
5.Include disposable poop bags and a poop scoop.
6.Pack a small portable first aid kit.
7.Last but certainly not least, pack plenty of water and a bowl for your dog. It’s a good idea to include a serving of dog food for emergencies and pack a few dog treats for added energy.
Acquaint yourself with the area you intend to hike. Know the rules because some parks do not allow dogs and many require that they be on leashes or you will get fined.
Finally, it’s easy for you and your dog to get dehydrated so drink plenty of water. Dogs can get really excited about getting to go along but it’s important that you maintain your normal hiking rate that is appropriate for the terrain or you could both be worn out long before you reach the end of your hike.
Follow these basic guidelines so both you and your dog will be ready for a long hike and you will have a great time enjoying the outdoors together.