Hiking is a great form of exercise, especially if you live in an area that has lots of beautiful trails to explore. And, it’s even more fun if you can share the experience with your four-legged friend.
Your dog can certainly become the perfect hiking buddy, but it will take some time and effort on your part. Here are some tips for making your dog the best hiking partner possible:
1. Socialize Your Dog
A good hiking buddy is social and good with other people and dogs. If your dog has never been on a hike before, or doesn’t do well around other people and dogs, then you’ll want to work on socializing him before you hit the trails.
This means taking him to the dog park, on walks around your neighborhood, and to any other places where he’ll be around lots of people and other dogs.
2. Get Your Dog in Good Shape
Hiking can be strenuous, especially if you’re going on longer hikes or hikes with a lot of elevation gain. If your dog is out of shape, he’s going to have a hard time keeping up – and he could even hurt himself.
So, before you go on your first hike, make sure your dog is in good shape. Take him on long walks and runs, and gradually increase the distance and speed over time. This will help him build up his endurance so he can handle longer hikes.
3. Train Your Dog
A well-trained dog is a good hiking buddy. He’ll listen to your commands, stay by your side, and not bother other hikers or dogs on the trail.
If your dog isn’t well-trained, then you’ll want to spend some time working on obedience commands like sit, stay, come, and down. You should also work on recalls, so you can call your dog back to you if he gets too far ahead or wanders off the trail.
4. Get Your Dog Used to Being on a Leash
Most dogs will need to be on a leash when hiking, at least for the first few times. This is for their safety as well as the safety of other hikers and dogs on the trail.
If your dog isn’t used to being on a leash, then you’ll want to get him used to it before your hike. Start by walking him around your neighborhood on a leash, and gradually increase the distance and time you’re walking.
To ensure your training is a success, read this article on how to train your dog to walk on a leash.
5. Bring the Right Gear
When you go on a hike, you need to bring the right gear. This includes things like proper footwear, a backpack, water, snacks, and a first-aid kit.
Your dog will also need some gear, including a leash, a collar or harness, and a doggy backpack (if he’s big enough). You may also want to bring along some dog-specific gear like a doggy water bottle, doggy boots, or a doggy life jacket if you’re hiking near water. If your trail is a particularly tough one, you should invest in dog harnesses with handle as this will allow you to help your dog up steeper climbs.
6. Be Prepared for the Weather
The weather can be unpredictable, even if you’re hiking in the summer. So, you need to be prepared for any type of weather.
If it’s going to be hot, make sure you bring enough water for both you and your dog. You may also want to bring along a doggy cooling vest or some ice packs.
And, if it’s going to be cold, make sure you bring along a warm jacket for yourself and a doggy coat or sweater for your dog. You may also want to bring along some dog boots to keep his feet warm and dry.
7. Start Slow
Don’t try to do too much too soon. If your dog has never been hiking before, then start with some short, easy hikes.
As he gets more experience, you can start doing longer and more difficult hikes. But, don’t push him too hard – let him go at his own pace and take breaks when he needs to.
8. Be Patient
Hiking with your dog can be a lot of fun. But, it’s important to be patient.
Your dog may not be able to keep up with you at first. And, he may need to take more breaks than you do. But, if you’re patient and take things slowly, he’ll eventually be able to keep up and hike for longer periods of time.
To Sum Up
Hiking with your dog can be a great way to spend time together and get some exercise. But, it’s important to be prepared and take things slowly at first.
If you follow the tips above, you and your dog will be able to enjoy many great hikes together.