Keep these tips in mind when heading out for your next hike and ensure that it’s a safe, enjoyable experience for you and your dog!
A few hours in nature can renew your spirit and give your dog the break he needs from your home or apartment dwelling. While a hike is the perfect way to exercise and entertain your furry friend, safety should always be a priority. Here’s a few tips to help you avoid danger and have a great time!
Choose a pet-friendly trail
Do your research before you head out for the day. Find a trail that allows pets and one with an appropriate level of difficulty for your dog. Your dog’s physical condition, age, and size should factor in to your decision. If this is the first time you two are heading out, it’s best to underestimate his ability and choose a shorter, easier trail.
Bring a leash
Yes, your dog may be perfectly trained and may listen to your every command. But that doesn’t mean that other dogs you encounter on the trail will do the same. If the trail is empty and you know that your dog will obey, feel free to let him off-leash. However, if there are other dogs on the trail, it’s best to keep your dog tethered until the path opens up again.
Pack plenty of water and snacks
Hiking is hard work, and you’ll need to replenish your dog’s energy throughout the adventure. Carry extra water and healthy snacks for your pup and take frequent breaks. You can even lighten your load and fit your dog with a backpack so he can carry his own supplies!
Here are two things to consider:
1) If your pup’s nose is dry, he’s likely dehydrated.
2) If you are thirsty, your dog probably is as well.
Carry a well-stocked first-aid kit
Injuries happen. Being prepared for them will limit the physical and emotional fallout for both you and your dog. Many retailers have pet-specific first-aid kits that you can toss in your bag to be prepared for most situations.
Pay attention to your dog’s signals
Dogs can’t speak, but that doesn’t mean they can’t communicate. Watch for signs of exhaustion from your pup and don’t push him. If he lays down, it’s time for a break. If he is limping or favoring one leg, check his paws for injuries. Respect your dog’s limitations and pay close attention to his behavior on the trail. Also keep an eye out to see if he’s trying to snack on the foliage. It may be dangerous to his health.
Clean up after your pup
Yes, you’re out in nature and animals poop out there all the time. Dogs, however, shouldn’t. Their poop contains bacteria that could contaminate the water supply. Plus, it’s just really gross for other hikers to step in.
Do a full body check before heading home
The dangers lurking out on the trail will differ depending on where you live. In some climates, ticks carrying diseases may hitch a ride on your pooch. In other areas, dogs may have to deal with cactuses or extreme heat. No matter where you live, consider getting your dog a pair of booties to protect his paws on hikes. You’ll also want to check him thoroughly to make sure that there are no insects, lacerations, burns, or other injuries.
Your furry friend will love the smells, sights, and time spent with you in nature. When you prepare for your hike and pay close attention to your dog, you’ll ensure a safe and fun outing.
Sheryl Green is a storytelling expert, keynote speaker, and author. She serves as the Director of Communications and Cuddling for Hearts Alive Village Las Vegas animal rescue and spends her free time hiking with (and cooking for) her Beagle/Lab mix Akasha. Learn more at www.sherylgreenspeaks.com. Headshot courtesy of Melanie Rose with Las Vegas Event Photos.