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Hiking with dogs & all you need to know

March 2023 | Highpaw stories

Winter is slowly waning, and the higher temperatures and warm weather encourage nature to wake up and thus invite us to spend more time outdoors. One of the currently most popular methods of relaxation and spending time in nature is certainly hiking, which many people happily indulge in. Apart from us people, dogs also like to spend time outdoors more than anything. Hiking is an opportunity to take your pet, who will undoubtedly enjoy the fresh air and exploring the surroundings, with you.


Hiking with dogs can be an incredibly rewarding experience for both you and your furry companion. Not only does it provide a great way to bond with your pet and get some exercise, but it can also be a fun way to explore new trails and enjoy the great outdoors. However, before you hit the trail with your dog, it's important to consider a few things to ensure both yours and your pet’s safety and comfort. Here are all the basics you need to know before embarking on a hiking adventure with your four-legged friend.


Know your dog’s limits

Dogs come in all shapes, sizes, personalities, ages, and fitness levels, making them unique and full of quirks. These traits also play a significant role in determining what kind of a hike your dog is capable of taking on. Before embarking on a hiking adventure with your pup, it's essential to consider various factors such as the length and type of trail, elevation changes, and potential obstacles like rivers or rocks.

As you hike, be mindful of your dog's behavior and watch for signs of fatigue, such as excessive panting, stumbling, or disorientation. If you notice any concerning signs, it's better to cut the hike short and head back to ensure your dog’s safety and comfort. With proper preparation and attention, hiking with your dog can be a fantastic experience for both of you.


Make it pet-friendly

Despite our love for our dogs, not everyone shares the same sentiment when it comes to taking dogs everywhere. Therefore, when searching for hiking trails to explore with your pet, it's good to ensure that the trail is pet-friendly. One way to do this is to search for ‘pet-friendly trails’ in your area or check the trail's regulations to make sure they allow dogs. It's important to note that many national and state parks have specific restrictions on dogs' access to certain trails due to conservation reasons or safety concerns. It's best to research the trail regulations before arriving to avoid any disappointment or trouble.

Also, keep in mind that most hiking trails require dogs to be on a leash, and breaking this regulation can result in fines. While it may be tempting to let your dog run free in a restricted area, these rules are in place to keep your pets safe from wildlife or poisonous plants like oak or ivy that may be present on the trail.


Bring all you need

Don't forget to pack some snacks and water for your furry hiking companion when you head out on the trail. Consider bringing snacks, and also don't forget to pack a collapsible bowl for easy water access during the hike. It's also essential to include a small first aid kit in your pack with tweezers for removing burrs or splinters from your pup's paws and ace bandages or gauze for treating wounds. Seeing injured dogs being carried down the trail is not uncommon, so it's better to be prepared for any unforeseen situations.

Also, be considerate of nature. Meaning, even if nobody sees it, if a dog poops in the woods, it certainly did happen. As pet owners, it's our responsibility to clean up after our dogs, even if it means picking up their waste in the middle of nature.


Check-up after hiking

After completing your hike, it's important to check your dog for ticks and other critters that they may have picked up during the trek. While some dogs may need a bath due to their affinity for finding and rolling in unsavory things, others may only require you to thoroughly check their belly, ears, and skin crevices for ticks. If you find a tick, bring tweezers as close to the skin as possible to remove it and clean the area afterward.


At last, after a long day of hiking, it's common for both us humans and dogs to feel tired and worn out. Your pup may be snoozing on the couch, and you may be nursing sore muscles. But the memories of your adventure together, the stunning scenery, and the bond between you and your furry friend will last a lifetime. It's a great feeling to end the day full of adventure with a cozy evening spent with your loyal companion.