In another life, my dog might have been Lassie or a Rin Tin Tin. His tenacious attitude and fearless mindset makes him believe he can do anything. The only problem is—this adventure-searching soul is stuck in a 30lb. Corgi mix body. His stumpy legs and wide load waddle make it harder to make strenuous trips, so when it comes to going for a hike, it’s essential for me to be prepared. Check out these five tips I follow before embarking on a hiking trip.
A Trip to the Vet
You want to make sure you have a healthy and happy pup before venturing on any long, strenuous hikes. This is especially important if you have an older dog, or a dog that has trouble breathing when exercising. Dogs with short or flat noses may overheat quickly, so make sure your dog has a clean bill of health before putting him to the hiking test.
A few questions to ask your veterinarian at your pup’s next visit:
- Is my dog up-to-date on all vaccines?
- Should I be using any additional products to help protect my dog from fleas, ticks or parasites?
- Is my dog healthy enough for physical exertion?
Know the Hiking Trail
It pays to do some research before stepping foot (and paw) on the trail. Know the distance of the trail and how steep of a grade you will be hiking. If this hike is known to be “high intensity,” it may be in your dog’s best interest to train on a few smaller trails. You want to make sure your dog can keep up with you and has the endurance to make it from start to finish.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Unfortunately our four-legged friends can’t tell us, “hey I’m thirsty, I need water.” So you need to be proactive about giving your pooch water. It’s best to have a couple bottles of water and a travel bowl ready to bring, and be sure to stop for a quick drink when you see your dog panting. When in doubt, stop often for water breaks, especially in hot temperatures—you’re dog will certainly need it.
Prepare a First-Aid Kit
Traveling with a first-aid kit is always a good idea, especially when hiking in the wilderness. Although you may have a kit laying around that you use for your family, it’s important to put together a “doggie first-aid kit” and know how to care for your dog, if injured. We recently published an article covering all of your doggie first-aid kit necessities, so check this out and be prepared.
Have a Leash Ready
Some people feel comfortable letting their thrill sniffer off leash when hiking. I myself, would never do such a thing. My dog can easily become distracted and has the tendency to follow his nose, rather than my commands, when hiking. Know what type of leash you want to use, and be sure your dog is comfortable walking on this leash. I always use a shorter lead when walking to help keep my dog’s attention and to keep him on the right path throughout the hike.
These are just a few tips to keep in mind before beginning a new adventure. While it’s always important to stay safe, it’s also important to have fun. Your dog will certainly have a “sniffing field day” on a hike and will enjoy the exercise and fresh air as much as you will. If you want to add to this list, leave a comment below!