It’s been said a million times before, there’s no greater companion than a dog! In today’s world, it seems people have an excuse to bring their furry friends everywhere.
Coffee? “Puppuccino please”! Is this restaurant dog friendly? “We’ll take a table outside”. When you think about it, it seems almost wrong to leave our pups at home while we venture into the great outdoors. Break the mundane walks around the block by letting your dog tag along with you during your next hike.
As with every adventure in nature, there are certain precautions we take to ensure the safety of ourselves and others when hitting the trail. So we should also take precautions when hiking with man’s best friend. Here are four things to consider when hiking with your dog:
As they age, dogs, like people, can have issues with arthritis, joints or other ailments that can affect their physical abilities. Not all breeds are created equal and a dog over the age of eight should be carefully examined while out on a trail.
Conversely, be careful with puppies as hiking up and down steep, uneven trails can impact the development of a growing dog’s hips, shoulders, and other joints. Our pups can be stubborn, so paying close attention to their mobility, or lack thereof, on a trail can keep them out of injury territory.
If you feel your dog is healthy enough to tackle a trail, next ask yourself whether or not it’s well-behaved. Hiking may take place in the wild, but that doesn’t mean you will be alone. Before you venture out, be sure he/she is comfortable on/off leash and respond to basic commands such as; heel, sit, stay, and come.
Your dog should also be able to socialize with other dogs and humans. You will likely be close to others when you pass on the trail or if your itinerary includes a trek near a popular mountain.
When choosing a trail, don’t just assess your own physical abilities
but that of your dogs. Keep in mind that hiking is more strenuous than walking, because trails include uneven terrain and usually involve vertical gain.
If you’ve planned for a 10-mile hike, but your daily dog walk is more the speed of a stroll around the block, you may end up carrying your pup back to the trailhead. Consider preparing for the trail with a few weeks of longer runs before taking your pooch out into the backcountry.
Along with distance and difficulty, one of the most important factors in keeping you and your trail companion safe, are physical trail conditions. Regardless of how nature-savvy your dog is, if the weather is too high/low in temperature or too humid/dry, it can and will impact both your hiking experiences.
Questions to consider when mapping out a hike: Is there coverage/shade or is it mainly an exposed trail? Are there water sources your dog could cool off in if it’s too hot? Is the trail well maintained or will you be scrambling up steep & rocky terrain?
Consider these useful tips when planning your next trek onto the trail with your furry friend! Before you know it – your dog will be a staple on your hiking experience.