Fresh air, plenty of exercise and the opportunity to explore new places; taking your dog on your hiking adventures is a great way for you both to enjoy the great outdoors.
Whether it’s a day hike or a short climb, there are a few things to consider if you are taking your dog along for the ride and we have rounded up a few of our recommended tips….
Planning your trip if going away
Think about where you want to go and look for hotels, B&B’s and campsites that are dog friendly. Don’t always assume that because somewhere is listed as animal friendly that they can cater for an abundance of dogs; some accommodation sites have a limited number of furry friends per room. It is a good idea to make a backup plan too, have a list of places close by that can accommodate you. Check out Dog Friendly Britain for more information on places to stay.
It is worth remembering that just because your four-legged friend loves to be outside with you, doesn’t mean they are going to enjoy staying away from home! Just as you might try an overnight camp with your family, do the same with your dog to find out if they are comfortable with sleeping in unknown surroundings.
Decided where you wish to hike? Check that dogs are allowed on the trails you plan to explore.
Prepare for your trip
A run around in the park is quite different to a long-distance hike. You need to make sure your pooch has the endurance and fitness for lengthier, tougher trails. Ease them in by taking them on short hikes to help build stamina and toughen their paw pads. You can gradually increase the distance with each walk and add hills into the mix if your hike will include inclines. Not sure if your dog has the right level of fitness? You vet should be able to advise you.
You should get into the habit of checking your dog over in the evening either after or before your walk together. Areas of concern are eyes, ears, paws, tail and armpits. If your dog is uncomfortable with letting you examine them, make sure you reward them for good behaviour.
Eyes – check for grass seeds
Ears – check for mites and other foreign objects such as grass seeds or loose pieces of foliage
Paws – check for cuts on the pads, also grass seeds and ticks
Tail – foreign objects caught in fur
“Armpits” – check here for burrs and twigs getting caught as your dog will love to charge through the undergrowth. If these are left to embed into your dog’s skin, they will be incredibly uncomfortable and more difficult to spot later which could result in a trip to the vets to have them removed.
Mouth – check for abrasions around the mouth, cuts on gums etc. Try not the play “fetch” with small pieces of branch as they can cause hidden damage to the throat and/or mouth.
If you find anything you are not sure how to deal with, visit your local vets to be on the safe side. Additionally, it is also worth making sure your dog is up-to date on their vaccines and flea and tick preventives, particularly when planning on exploring somewhere you have never visited before.
Just as you like to take your creature comforts away with you, your dog will appreciate it too:
• Treats – Encourage good behaviour and reward as necessary.
• Favourite toy – You are going to have time to play with this whilst out and about.
• Favourite blanket – Sleeping in strange places can be made better with the familiar smell of home.
• Brush or comb – Got to keep looking our best, haven’t we? (also, very helpful with removing foreign objects or any tangles they have picked up that day).
• Medication – If your dog requires any medication, remember to pack this.
• Doggie First Aid Kit– Cuts and strains can happen so make sure you are prepared.
• Vaccination card – Some places you stay may ask to see this. It is also useful if you need to attend a vet whilst away from home.
• Pet insurance details – Just to be on the safe side whilst away from home in case anything happens and your dog needs treatment.
• Animal friendly wipes – For general clean up.
• Disposable poly bags – You still need to clean up after your dog when out in the wilderness.
• Dog Water Bottle and Fold Away Dog Bowl – Whilst many places have bowls of water available for your dog, when you are in the middle of nowhere, there won’t always be somewhere for him to get a drink, especially on hot days.
• Lead & Harness – An essential on any dog walk! Opt for a sturdy lease that isn’t extendable to keep them close on uneasy trails.
• Whistle – If your dog has been trained to come to a whistle, it’s often much better than trying to call their name.
• Food and Drink – Just as you will be using more energy through the day, so will your dog. If it is a particularly tough hike you may need to feed them as much as double what you would on a normal day. Check with your vet to ensure they will be getting enough calories to sustain the level of exercise. Your dog’s favourite food may not be available where you are going (pack a more than enough tins/bags of their food or look online for local stockists).
Our Top 5 Hiking Tips
1. Maintain your dog’s energy levels
Don’t give your dog a big meal in the morning of your hike to ensure they have enough time to digest. Alternatively, you can feed them at intervals, even if you would generally only feed morning and evening whilst at home. This will help them to exert an even amount of energy throughout your hike and lessen the chance of them grazing on scraps they might find along the trail.
2. Keep them nice and cool
If possible, avoid hiking at the hottest part of the day as dogs can’t sweat to cool down like we do. Remember to make sure you stop for water breaks frequently. When you need a drink, chances are your dog will too so make sure you carry enough fresh water for you and your dog. Ensure they don’t drink water in lakes and rivers as they can contain tiny parasites that in extreme cases can be fatal to dogs.
3. Know your dog’s limits
Watch your dog closely for signs of discomfort or potential altitude sickness if on a steep trail. If she/he is panting heavily or slowing down, consider heading back down the trail or at least giving them a long rest. Dogs will always want to please their owners and won’t stop unless you do, so it’s up to us to make sure they are not overexerting and to decide when you should take a break or head back down.
4. Ensure your dog is well-mannered
To have the best experience with your hiking companion, manners and strict training are necessary. In order to train your dog whilst on the hike, it is best to keep them on the lead to ease both of you into the new way of walking. Even the most obedient dogs can ignore voice or whistle commands when something has caught their attention, so use the lead to help keep them settled and safe.
5. Clean up after them
The reason that hiking trails can be more enjoyable then an average walk with your pooch is due to the fact that all trailers tend tokeep the space clean. This practice is often a strict rule with dog friendly routes and is known as ‘trail etiquette’. Make sure that you follow the rules by cleaning up after yourself and your pooch, so trails are kept dog friendly for others!
Most importantly, enjoy yourselves! This new hiking adventure with your furry loved one will bring you together and have you both cuddled up and well-exercised by the evening.
Be sure you tag us in any pictures you capture when out on your hike in our gear – we love to see them and are able to sometimes re-share them!