Beautiful scenery, fresh crisp air, and your best friend at your side. Hiking with your dog is a great way to spend an hour or a day. Here are a few ways you can make the hike a great experience for both of you.
Choose a trail suitable for your dog's fitness level.
Dogs accustomed to strolls around the city block may not be ready for a strenuous hike up a mountain! Likewise, small dogs, dogs with flat faces or short legs, and older dogs may have special needs too. Pick a trail that fits your pooch's abilities. Let him rest if he shows signs of tiring.
Always carry water.
Dogs need to stay hydrated just like we do. Collapsible pet travel bowls are perfect for hikes - they're small, compact, and fold up when not in use. Offer your dog water at regular intervals.
Hike when the temperature is comfortable.
During hot summer days, it's best to hike in the mornings or evenings when the temperatures are cooler. In the winter you may want to head out in the afternoons when the sun is out to provide a bit of warmth.
Try to avoid recreational use trails.
Trails meant for ATVing, snowmobiling, sledding, cross-country skiing, or other activities can be dangerous for dogs. You or your dog may be caught by surprise and an accident may occur.
You will also want to avoid areas where hunting is permitted. This can be especially dangerous if your dog is running off-leash.
Dogs and wildlife simply do not mix. Avoid areas where there have been recent bear sightings, and areas where wildlife are known to be mating. The parks office should be able to advise you. Don't let your dog chase or harass wildlife under any circumstances.
Respect the trail.
Stay on the trail to avoid unnecessary damage to the park. Some areas also have fragile ecosystems - these areas may not permit dogs, but if they do, be extra careful and make sure your dog doesn't stray from the marked trail. Pick up after your dog.
Keep your dog under control.
Carry a leash at all times even if dogs are allowed to run leash-free. Make sure your dog responds to your call. If he doesn't reliably come back to you, you may wish to leash him to minimize potential conflicts with wildlife or other hikers.
Be courteous to other users of the trail.
Don't let your dog rush other hikers (or their pets). Step aside and let groups pass if the trail is narrow.
Use caution around water.
Many dogs have inadvertantly fallen into rivers or lakes, or fallen through thin ice. Supervise your dog around any body of water.
Make sure your pet stays warm in winter.
Dogs can get frostbite and hypothermia too! Dogs with thinner coats, and elderly dogs, may need a sweater to keep them warm during those frosty winter days. Many dogs of any age or fitness level may need boots to keep their paws warm and free of ice or snow build-up.
Check your dog's paws during and after the hike.
Remove any debris that may have gotten caught in your dog's coat, and clear out any debris that gets lodged between your dog's paw pads. In the summer, pebbles & dirt may accumulate. In the winter, it's ice & snow that are the culprits. It's uncomfortable and painful for your dog, just like if you were to walk with a pebble in your shoe!
Relax and have fun!
Spending the day outside with your dog and nature is a great way to enjoy a quiet day with your furry friend.