How to hike with your dog?

How to hike with your dog
A dog is a man’s best friend. We’ve heard this saying often enough, and more than often, it stands to be true. We all spend quality time with our dogs. Be it walking them, cuddling them or merely playing with them-it is essential to give that time to our little companion. So why not take it a notch higher and go for a hike with our little furry friend? Not only is it the best way by which you can bond with your pet but also exciting and soothing. It’s the ideal mini getaway that we could ask for. Nature, calm and your best friend- sounds perfect, doesn’t it?

However, while it does seem very alluring, it is important to remember that hiking with a dog is different from hiking with a human. Multiple different kinds of preparations are needed to ensure that you have the best hike with your dog. In this article, we’ll give you a few tips on how to hike with your dog, especially if you are a beginner. We’ll also talk about some of the equipment you will need like top-rated backpacks, dog collars and how to train the dog properly to wear the backpacks.

IS YOUR DOG READY FOR A HIKE?

There are a lot of things to be taken into consideration before you hike with your dog. How old is your dog? Are they well behaved? Some things need to be thought about. A few of them are-

FITNESS

If you’re someone who’s used to staying in and lazing around, there is a high possibility that it is the same for your dog. Hiking is a lot more taxing than walking. Therefore, it is imperative for your dog to be fit and about to conquer those uneven terrains. Before you plan the hike, be sure to make a realistic assessment of the fitness of your dog. If you’re unsure about whether or not he’s fit, just touch his ribs to see if you can feel them below the fur. If you can’t feel them, it’s time to exercise first!

HEALTH

Your dog is a living, breathing thing that has the life. It is very natural for your dog to have health issues that may affect his hiking abilities. (For instance, hip dysplasia). Be sure to visit a vet before you hike with your dog. It is extremely important to ensure he will be okay and to carry medication if required.

BEHAVIOUR

A hike is never an exclusive thing-there are going to be other people and pets. It becomes essential then for your dog to be comfortable interacting with other humans and dogs. He should be okay to wear dog collars and should want to be next to you when he doesn’t have one on. You should take care to train your dog to listen to your commands. It’s essential for the verbal commands to be enough to make him sit, stay or heel.

SIZE

While it’s mostly about instinct as to what your dog can handle, larger dogs will find it easier to cover a particular area because of their long limbs. A small dog, at times, might just need a little extra push. A dog over 40 pounds will be great for a hike.

AGE

Like people, older dogs will have several health problems that will inhibit them physically. You should be careful about planning your hike if your dog is over ten years. Puppies, although energetic, may be unfit for hikes because of a lack of training. Apart from this, the developments of the puppy’s joints may be affected because of the uneven and steep trails. In larger dogs, one year is the length of time for the joints to develop. In small pups, it takes nine months.

STEPS TO PREPARE

hiking with your dog at hill

If you’re going for a hike with your dog, there are a few steps you should take to make it a fruitful experience for both you and your pet.

VISIT A VET

Make sure that your little pooch has strong and healthy joints. Things like breed, size, and age can have an effect on the agility of your dog. It may not be wise to take an old dog for a walk or to take your puppy for a trek till his bones are done growing. The vet will also ensure that your dog has adequate heartworm, tick, and flea prevention drugs. Things like Rocky Mountain, Lyme disease, and other diseases are caused by ticks. These can be very dangerous for your dog, and it is necessary to figure out what’s best for your dog.

RESEARCH

Research in the area you intend to visit. Most websites will have details about the wildlife, terrain, plants, and climate you’ll come across. You also need to check whether or not canines are allowed.

Take into consideration how your dog’s breed will react to the surroundings and long treks. For instance, breeds with short noses tend to overheat while exercising.

SLOW AND STEADY

It is advisable to start with short walks, and eventually build the stamina and endurance of your dog. Your dog, just like you, was not born ready for a trek. He too needs a gradual build up. It is crucial for you to recognize your dog’s strengths and limitations and understand when he needs to rest.

  • DOG COLLARS and a leash are a must: Even if you’re sure your dog will listen to you, carry a leash just in case. You never know when your pet will get excited to see a rabbit and start chasing it. Hikers without hounds have the right of the path, and it is imperative for you to maintain that. Some people might be scared of seeing a big dog. I’m such a case; you might need to leash your pet.
  • CORRECT EQUIPMENT: Depending on the kind of fur your dog has, you may or may not need to carry a vest or sweater. Dogs like golden retrievers or malamutes have thick, double coated fur so they might be all right in the cold but thin coated canines and dogs used to the indoors may face problems. Vests that keep dogs cool in hot weather are also available.

Dog boots are also a good idea. Cuts and bruises are common in rough terrains, and this serves as a preventive measure. It is also useful for dogs who are used to the softness of grass and carpets. Natural waxes (nontoxic) can be applied on the paws for protection against ice and snow.

CRITICAL GEAR:

WATER

You should carry enough water to suffice both you and your dog. It is a bad idea to let them lap from lakes, rivers, streams or puddles since they may contain toxins and harmful parasites.

FOOD AND SNACKS

The calorie requirements of your dog will increase if you take him on a trek. You must carry adequate food to meet these needs.

POOP BAGS

Your dog will have his bowel movements which will need to be taken care of. It will be unpleasant for other hikers to find a trail of poop on their path. In consideration of others, it is essential to carry poop bags or to bury the poop. (In a hole that is at least 6 inches deep.)

OTHER THINGS TO HELP YOU

TOP RATED DOG BAG PACKS

If you feel that you have too many things to carry, you can get a top-rated dog backpack to put on your dog so that some of the load is shared.

BASICS OF THE BAG PACK

  • The first thing to do is to get a bag pack made for dogs. It is important to ensure that the straps are padded because the extra pressure will put pressure on the dog’s chest. Find a bag pack that is made of breathable, durable and water-resistant materials. Ultimately, your dog should feel comfortable and not over-burdened. Use a tape to measure what size will fit instead of just going by your dog’s weight.
  • The most important question here is how much weight can your dog carry? It’s a good idea to consult your vet and get the okay. Usually, dogs can carry about 10-12% of their body weight. For instance, a 25kg dog can take about 2-3 kgs. The exact amount is dependent on many things like breed, age, etc. so it is extremely important to be careful with this. Your dog should not be uncomfortable.
  • After you’ve got everything ready, do measure the bag pack. This is necessary for your dog’s convenience.

SO, WHAT GOES INTO THE BAG?

You can be creative in the way you pack your dog’s bag. Let him carry some of his things like dog collars, balls, water bottles and poop bags. Make sure that the stuff you put in doesn’t poke or disturb him. Usually, water bottles are the best because the amount of water can be manipulated to reach the correct weight.

MY DOG HASN’T DONE THIS BEFORE. HOW TO TRAIN THE DOG PROPERLY TO WEAR BAG PACKS?

If you are trying to introduce this new idea of a bag pack to your dog, it is advisable to start slow since he may be resistant and unprepared for it.

Begin by getting your dog used to a weightless bag pack. You can try associating it with something positive like a treat. Initially, he might just try to take it off. After that, you can gradually try increasing the weight. Taking it slow is a better process as he gets more accustomed to it. If you are worried that your dog may be in pain, consult a doctor immediately. However, it is important that you understand when your dog is in pain and when he is resistant.

For a dog, a 15-minute weighted bag pack walk is equal to a 30 minute no bag pack walk. It takes time for their muscles to get used to the new weight. You have to be patient with your dog as he goes through this process. If you want him to get ready for a long hike, do so with consideration to his abilities and the physical hardiness he has to acquire.

Thus, it is vital to get a top rated bag pack that will be easy for your dog to carry. It is also essential that you train the dog properly to wear bag packs so that there are no problems on the hike itself.

SOME OTHER TIPS

  • Carry a short leash rather than a long one. Longer leashes can get tangled in the terrain this making it more difficult for you and your dog.
  • Carry a dog comb or brush. The general hygiene of your dog is essential. Some breeds may stop walking if their fur is too knotted.
  • Identification: Put on a comfortable dog collar on your dog with your number, dog’s license and name on it.
  • Remember to take a water bowl for your dog. It will be more convenient and fast.
  • First aid kit for your dog. This is very important for your dog’s safety and well being. Some of the things that you should put in it are: tweezers, toenail clippers, canine eyewash, scissors, bandage, disinfectants, and cleansers like betadine or hydrogen peroxide, muzzle, calamine lotion (helps with bug bites), Vaseline and Topical antibiotic ointments like neomycin or bacitracin. There are other things that you can carry depending on what your vet advises you to carry and your dog’s personal needs.
  • Carry a spare rope just in case you need to tie your dog to a tree.

ARE YOU READY FOR A HIKE WITH YOUR DOG?

Well, if you’ve done everything mentioned here, you should be! After consulting your vet and making the adequate preparations, it is more about what the attitude of you and your dog is towards the hike! Just go by what feels right, and if you understand your dog well, then your hike with your dog will be an enjoyable experience for the both of you!

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