If you’re athletic and have an outdoorsy dog, chances are you’ll want to go out this summer and log some trail miles together. However, like people, dogs need to re-establish their stamina after a long winter, and there are certain safety considerations to bear in mind.
Your dog can love the great outdoors as much as you do, if not more, with a little planning. But, some dogs are more suitable for hiking than others. Labrador retrievers and Australian Shepherds are among the best dogs for hiking. However, before you go hiking with your canine companion, follow these steps:
Determine Your Objectives
The first step is to choose your trekking objectives. Are you planning a weekend hiking trip? When you’ve decided on a goal, start getting in shape 6–8 weeks ahead of time. Once you’ve decided on a route, double-check that dogs are permitted on it and learn about any leash laws that may apply.
Prepare Your Dog
It’s time to start preparing with your dog after you’ve decided where you want to go. Starting with walking or a walk/run program with your dog can help you both build up cardio and endurance for your hike, regardless of whether you have one of the best-trained dogs or a dog that has potential.
Gather the Gear
If you have been walking on flat trails, take it up a notch by adding a hilly route or walking/hiking gentler trails at an elevation. Whether you’re just starting or need to replace an old pair of trail or hiking shoes, now is a perfect time to do it.
If you’re planning a longer trip, start with a light backpack for shorter walks and gradually increase the weight as you gain strength. Your dog may also carry a tiny backpack with food, water, a bowl, and poo bags. Just make sure you start light with your dog and that the backpack weighs no more than 15–25% of its body weight.
Adjust your dog’s pack so that it sits around its shoulders rather than on hips and that it may be adjusted enough that it doesn’t slide but still allows your dog to breathe freely. Big muscular dogs with good stamina like Boxers are the best dogs for hiking such trails.
Regardless of the distance, carry lots of water and a water filter in addition to the backpack.
Prepare a First-Aid Kit
It’s just as essential to carry a basic first aid kit for your dog as it is for people when they’re in the middle of nowhere. Ensure your dog is healthy for the trip you’re about to go on, and make sure its nails are trimmed or that you have dog boots for more challenging terrain to protect its paws.
Teach Your Dog
Aside from being in condition and carrying the required equipment, there is one more aspect of hiking with your dog that is crucial: teaching your dog. In the presence of animals or a particularly intriguing odor, even the best-trained dogs may “forget” training instructions.
Your dog’s life may be saved by teaching it a dependable recall/come, and with a bit of practice, as it will help you make sure your dog doesn’t rush off into the woods chasing a wild animal.