Beginner in hiking with your dog? Below are some tips, tricks, and gear to help you on your adventures and eventually make you and your pup a pro!
Basic tips when getting into hiking with your dog!
Pick a trail you know your dog can handle, don't be afraid to start with something small. Those hikes can be just as fun as the big ones!
Be prepared! Bring plenty of water, poop bags, treats, snacks, dog boots, jacket (if needed based off of weather.), a spare leash, and your first-aid kit.
Be aware of the weather!Always check the weather conditions of the area your hiking before you head out and adjust your plans accordingly!
Know the rules! be respectful of any trail rules where you are hiking.
"How can I keep my dog comfortable while hiking and condition them for longer hikes?"
Having your dog feel safe and comfortable at all times is very important, especially when doing something like hiking and being away from their safe space such as your home.
Choose trails you know your dog can physically handle. Be aware of the environment. If your dog is easily spooked choose a quieter, less traveled trail. If they are more social an active, a busier trail would be perfect for your dog.
Be aware of trail laws, wildlife, and plants you will encounter to ensure safety for everyone.
When getting your dog ready to hike the big, longer hikes continue hiking more frequently on the smaller trails, from there choose trails that are a mile or 2 longer than the previous one you hiked. Continue to do this until you feel your dog has built up enough stamina to go on longer hikes and be sure to allow for recovery time in between each hike.
Have an older/senior pup who's never hiked but you want to start? Don't worry they can hike too!
One thing to consider is your dog might have arthritis and it is more common in older dogs, especially those that spent most of their life on hard surfaces, jumping up and down on a regular basis and that might not get as much movement and tend to be more of a couch potato. Before you get those joints and muscles moving more than they are used to be sure to see your vet and get proper treatment and health checks before hiking.
Choose shorter, gradual hikes, consider shorter loops rather than trails with long out and backs. Pick trails with easy to moderate terrain and try to hike when it's cooler, mornings and evenings are best (And you get the bonus of a gorgeous sunrise/sunset on the hike!) Most importantly allow for longer recovery times in between hikes to avoid injury and overwhelming your dog.