First-timer tips for hiking with dogs
Bringing your pet along for a hike can be a great way for both you and your furry friend to get some fresh air. However, when hiking with dogs, you want to make sure that you are as prepared as possible. These tips will help you have a successful excursion and help ensure that your pooch is safe while spending in the great outdoors. Who knows – your hike might go so well that you’ll want to bring your dog with you for every outdoor adventure.
What to keep in mind while on the trail
Make sure the area is dog-friendly
The first step to successfully hiking with dogs is to make sure that your desired trail allows pets. A good rule of thumb is to assume that dogs are not welcome everywhere, so verify ahead of time that your pooch is allowed. If you bring a dog to an area where they are not permitted, you may have to pay a fine. A popular hiking area that is known for allowing dogs is the Grandstaff Canyon Trail in Moab, Utah.
Double check the rules for national parks
While many national parks do allow dogs, it’s important to keep in mind that there may be different rules for their trails. It’s best to check the rules for the specific trail that you had in mind so you don’t run into any problems. Banff National Park is known for being particularly dog-friendly.
Don’t forget to bring a leash
No matter the context, you always need to leash your pet while hiking with them. Keeping your dog on a leash is not only important for safety, but also for courtesy toward other hikers. You may encounter hikers that are not fond of dogs or other dogs that happen to be aggressive.
Be strategic with your leash size
When deciding what size leash to take with you on your hike, opt for one that is short. A short leash will help you keep control over your pet and to ensure that they don’t get tangled up in vegetation or end up out of your sight.
Always have bags handy
This is a good rule of thumb when you take your pet anywhere, but it’s particularly important when you’re spending time in nature. You don’t want your pet’s waste to potentially get in the way of other hikers, as this can lead to some grumpy individuals on the trail.
Remember that there may not be trash cans
Keep in mind that you may not find trash cans along the trail, so you might have to keep your used waste bags with you until you find somewhere to dispose of them either at the end of the trail or near where you first parked.
Learn more about your dog’s breed
Something to consider before you embark on your hike is their breed and knowing their limits. Dog breeds vary in terms of endurance and stamina, and some are better equipped at walking for long periods or navigating uneven terrain than others.
Check in with your vet
If you have any doubts, it’s best to make an appointment with your vet to discuss your concerns with a professional prior to your hike. They can give you more information about your pet’s limits and provide any vaccinations that your furry friend may need.
Invest in dog hiking gear
There are some essentials that you will want to have on the trail with you. These include a water container and dish, a designated dog towel, nail clippers and a file, and a safety light. You will also want to grab a cooling collar for hiking in warmer months, a dog coat in case it becomes chilly and booties to protect your pet’s feet from sharp rocks and branches. If you’re hiking somewhere like Bear Peak in Colorado, your dog will probably need booties.
Be prepared for overnight trips
If you plan on camping overnight, you’ll want to make sure that you have a tent that is big enough to fit your pet inside. For safety purposes and temperature, it’s best to keep them inside of a tent rather than sleeping outside.
Brush up on your obedience training
As a common courtesy and safety precaution, you’ll need to make sure that your pup is properly trained before setting off. It’s important that your dog is well-behaved and knows how to properly socialize – they should know basic skills and commands, including “come,” “sit,” and “stay.”
Add a few extra commands to your repertoire
Once your pet has mastered the basics, there are a few additional commands that you should teach them as well. “Leave it” is a good one for them to know if you come across animal waste, poison ivy or trash from other hikers. “Quiet” is also an important command, as you don’t want your dog to be constantly barking while on the trail.
Leave no trace
Whenever you spend time in nature, you’ll want to abide by the principle of “leave no trace” – as in, leaving the environment exactly as you found it. When hiking with dogs, this equates to picking up all your trash and doing your best not to disturb the surrounding ecosystem.
Develop a trail-training regime
Just like humans, dogs need to train to reach a certain level of endurance and stamina. If your dog has no prior hiking experience, you’ll want to start them off on an easier trail to avoid them getting injured or exhausted. It’s best to create a safe and gradual trail-training regime that will progressively get your furry friend to the desired level. In the Los Angeles area, Runyon Canyon is a scenic and easy hike to start with for newbies.
Don’t forget that dogs can’t sweat
Unlike us, dogs are not able to sweat to control their body temperature. This means that you need to walk at a pace that works well for them and frequently provide them with water to prevent overheating.
Be aware of trail hazards
While hiking with dogs can be an enjoyable pastime, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t hazards that could be potentially dangerous for your pet. Keep your eyes open for wildlife, whether it be aggressive predators or wild plants that may be unhealthy or poisonous.
Pay close attention to water consumption
Dogs are more vulnerable to most waterborne pathogens than humans, so you’ll want to make sure that you carry plenty of clean water and a clean bowl. If you see your pet start to drink from any water in nature, make sure it’s a clean source.
Always respect wildlife
Similar to the concept of “leave no trace,” respecting wildlife should always be one of your utmost priorities. Remember that you are visiting the home of other species, so destroying parts of their ecosystems or having your dog scare animals by barking is not acceptable. We are all guests when we are in nature and it’s important that we maintain this mindset.
How to find campgrounds and RVs on KAYAK
If you plan to go on a longer hiking trip with your dog, you may need to find accommodation, like a campground or an RV. You can easily find a variety of stays in many different locations by applying the “unique stays” filter under “Amenities” when searching on KAYAK.