Looking for some ways to switch up your routine? Hiking with your dog makes for a fun form of exercise, a great way to explore new environments, and the perfect opportunity to spend some quality time with your furry sidekick.
You don’t have to be an avid backpacker or plan a rustic hike to enjoy the outdoors with your dog—an easy nearby nature trail or state park can just as easily do the trick.
Keep reading to learn more about preparing, packing, and enjoying your dog-friendly hiking adventure!
Before You Go
As adventurous as you may be, hiking with your dog isn’t the time to be spontaneous. Instead, be prepared to do plenty of research and brush up on basic obedience training.
Before you head off on your hiking adventure, be sure to:
- Check that dogs are allowed on the trail.
- Read all of the restrictions and guidelines, being ready to obey them accordingly.
- Research the trail, becoming aware of any potential hazards.
- Brush up on basic commands such as “leave it,” “come here,” and “with me.”
- Know your dog’s limits and plan accordingly—don’t bring your puppy or senior dog on a hike, and choose a trail length that matches your dog's endurance levels.
You’ll also want to make sure your dog is up to date on his flea and tick defense treatments. Don’t forget to give him Pet Honesty’s tasty Flea & Tick Defense Chews, too!
What to Bring
When hiking with your dog, you’ll want to be sure to pack all of the necessary items for both you and your pup. Depending on the size of your dog, he may even be able to carry some gear in his very own dog backpack!
Items to include on your pet-friendly hike include:
- Non-retractable leash
- Collapsible food and water bowls
- Poop bags
- Collar with an ID tag. A microchip is always a good idea, too!
- Pet-friendly bug repellent
- First aid kit
- Towel to wipe off muddy paws
- Maybe: dog booties to protect your pup’s paws from sharp rocks, thorns, and other rough terrains
During Your Hike
Once you set out on your adventure, you’ll need to follow standard hiking etiquette—for the safety of you and your pet, for the comfort of those around you, and for the wellbeing of plants and wildlife in the area.
- Keep your dog on a leash at all times.
- Always ask the owner for permission before approaching another dog.
- Practice Leave No Trace ethics by picking up after your dog and disposing of his waste in an appropriate manner.
- Respect wildlife—don’t allow your dog to veer off of the hiking trail.
- Don’t allow your dog to chew on any wild plants or drink dirty water.
- Watch for signs of overheating, and take plenty of breaks in the shade.
As a rule of thumb, keep in mind that if you’re hungry, thirsty, hot, or tired, your dog probably is, too.
After Your Hike
Once you’ve returned from your adventure, you’ll need to inspect your dog for any pests, burrs, debris, or injuries he may have encountered during the hike—especially if you were in a heavily wooded area.
Brushing your dog is a great way to remove any pests or debris that may be clinging to your dog’s coat. As you do this, it’s also a good idea to perform a home health check to see if there are any abnormalities on his skin or fur. Check closely for ticks, too!
It may also be a good time to give your dog a bath, making sure to brush before bathing.
Of course, don’t forget to reward your dog (and yourself) for a job well done with a post-hike treat!