Guide to Hiking with your Dog
Hiking with your dog on dirt tracks! Really is a lot of fun.But, it also generally involves rougher terrain, steeper inclines and tends to be more remote than your average daily walk, but hiking with your dog really is just another way of walking your dog.
As always preparation is key to having a safe and enjoyable trip. So follow these steps to have a fun hiking adventure with your dog.
1. Before you go
Research where you want to go
Not all trails are dog-friendly, generally, state forests and parks are dog accessible, some National Parks are dog no go zones. Make sure you do your research and find a walk that allows dogs. Always let a responsible person know where you’re going and when they can expect you back. Give them instructions on when its time to call in some help.
Pick trails suited to you and your dog’s ability
Don’t over do it, sure you’re pumped, you’re looking forward to the experience, but too much too soon can result in injury for both you and your dog.
If you are just starting out, don’t expect to head out on your first day and climb up steep terrain, ease both yourself and your dog into it by choosing walks that suit yours and your dog’s fitness and endurance levels.
Choose your weather, you and your dog don’t want to get yourselves into a situation where you end up with heat exhaustion or hypothermia.
Vaccinations and parasite treatment
Make sure you are up to date with all your vaccinations, flea, tick and worming treatments and have adequate stock for post trip administration. Your dog can pick up these nasties while out in the bush, so be sure to have everything you need to treat them in case they bring these home.
Tell someone where you are going
Before heading out on any trail, be sure to let someone know (a ranger is best where applicable) where you are going and what time you expect to be back in case of emergencies. If you are not back by the set time, they can raise the alarm and get help out to you if needed.
2. What to take
Having the right gear makes the difference between a good trip and one in which you wish you stayed at home! Be prepared to carry gear for hot, cold and wet weather – especially in alpine areas where the weather is unpredictable and can turn quickly.
On your first outings, don’t weigh yourself down, your first outings, unless experienced, should always be close to populated areas, we suggest you take a backpack but keep things light.
- First aid kit (and K9 first aid kit including treatments for cut paws)
- Wet weather/warm gear
- Mobile Phone
Your dog’s gear:
- Dog Backpack (remember your dog should not carry more than 20% of it’s body weight for safety)
- Food in sealed bags
- Poop bags or trowel to bury any waste (remember to leave no trace)
- Dog booties (to protect your dog’s paws if walking on hot surfaces or snow to prevent ice balling)
- Tick Twister
3. On the trail
Keep your dog on leash
By keeping your dog on a leash you can avoid many hazards that may pop up on the trail. Dogs love to explore so ensure they respect native fauna and flora by keeping them to designated tracks. Even the best recall can fail if there is an interesting distraction near by!
You don’t want your dog chasing another creature down a burrow or over a steep incline of a cliff face.
Beware of snakes particularly in the warmer spring and summer months.
Watch your dog for signs of stress or exhaustion
Be sure to take lots of breaks, especially when first starting out to ensure your dog is hydrating adequately and getting enough rest in between trail sections. If you dog starts to slow or is panting excessively, then stop, rest and once your dog has settled you can continue on.
Cut paw pads can be a common injury while hiking. If you are climbing rocky terrain, then be sure to stop periodically to check your dog’s paws for cuts or peeling. Take a medicated dog safe wound gel for occasions like these or dog booties for added protection and treatment of cut paws.
Leave no trace
Adhere to backcountry etiquette and leave the trail as you found it. That means taking all your waste with you and sticking to marked trails when you can.
4. Post trip
Ticks, Leeches and Burrs
Often forgotten, but very important part of a hike is the post trip fur check. Take the time and check your dog’s body for ticks, leeches, burrs or any other debris they may have picked up on the trail.
Especially in the case of ticks, a thorough check is important and should be completed as soon as possible post hike. I love our tick twister for tick removal, using it is so quick and easy