Everything You Need To Know To Hike Safely With Your Dog

a woman and her dog enjoy the view from the top of a mountain after a long hike

Hiking with your dog can be a beautiful, exciting way to get exercise in for the both of you. With rough terrain, varied wildlife, and long, taxing trails, hikes have the potential to be an unsafe place for your pup if you aren’t prepared. Hiking could be something new and exciting that your dog will love, or maybe you’ll find that it’s almost like a passion for them. Whether you’re new to this or wanting to polish up on your hiking prep plans, this article is the one for you.

In this article we're going to discuss:

  • How To Prepare
  • What To Bring on Your Hike
  • What To Be Cautious Of
  • Hiking Etiquette
  • Conclusion
Finding creative ways to combine your exercise activities with your dogs is not only a good way to kill two birds with one stone. Cultivating an interest in active outdoor activities such as hiking can be a great way to bond with your pup.

How To Prepare

Things to check off before hitting the trail

Perhaps the most important aspect of preparation when it comes to hiking with your dog is safety. Before you set off on the trail there are some things you need to square away to make sure that your dog is ready to hike with you. It’s a good idea to take your dog into the vet to make sure that they’re in a state that’s equipped to handle going on hikes. This is typically asking if your dog is physically prepared for a hike, if their immune system is strong enough to go on a hike, or if there are any vaccinations they need before you guys head out. 

When finding places to hike, you should try to check the park’s regulations to see if they allow dogs on their trails. Before hiking with your dog brushing up on their obedience is also ideal. Sometimes staying on the path of the trail is the only thing between your dog and them sticking their nose into something that could harm them. They need to be able to stay calm when other hikers and their pets pass by. 

What To Bring on Your Hike

Hiking gear or you and your dog alike

For more basic, short hikes bringing water for you and your pet as well as a way to properly dispose of their waste is key. As a rule of thumb dogs should drink an ounce of water for every pound they weigh per day. If you too are tackling a more challenging hike then they’ll probably need to drink more than that. While on longer hikes with your dog, you can make a habit out of giving them water every 30 minutes while on the hike. We recommend that you use a collapsible bowl or doggie water bottle for all of their hydration needs on the trail.

For cleaning up your dog’s waste you should bring plenty of waste disposal bags, and maybe a small trowel if you intend on burying their droppings (6-8 inches is the recommended depth).

You should also bring a pet first aid kit for emergencies, fleas, ticks, burrs and/or little scrapes that pop up here and there. 

If you’re heading out for a more intensive hike, many products would make it a whole lot easier on your dog. Terrains that get very hot or are rough on your dog’s paws may warrant buying them a set of hiking booties. A cooling vest is also a good investment to die-hard hiking dogs with darker coats. The vest works by soaking up cold water and keeping your dog despite extremely hot temperatures. 

What To Be Cautious Of

What dangers should you watch out for out on the trail?

When going from the safety of your home into the home of wild animals, it’s important to know what to watch out for to ensure your dog’s safety. That being said here’s a list of things to watch out for: 

  • Parasites that may be present in streams or puddles. (This is why it’s a good idea to bring your own water)
  • Be on the lookout for ticks, especially if you’re in a heavily wooded area.
  • Poisonous plants. Here’s a list of plants that can harm your dog
  • Porcupines. These little things can wound your pup with a face full of quills if they feel threatened. Keeping your dog on a leash should limit the chances they’ll meet up with one

Hiking Etiquette

Rules of the trade

When it comes to hiking etiquette it’s as simple as B.A.R.K. :

  • Bag your dog’s waste
  • Always keep your dog on a leash
  • Respect the wildlife
  • Know where you can go

These rules are in place not only for your dog’s safety, but for the safety of other people using the trail, and the beautiful ecosystem that makes your hike possible. Bagging your dog’s waste keeps it from interfering with the lives of the other animals and their water supply. Leashing your dog keeps them from getting lost or hurt. Respecting wildlife allows the trail to continue to flourish long after you head home. Knowing the path you’re taking with your pet can save you both from some very unfortunate situations. That’s why it’s important to observe them carefully and do your best to abide by them. 

Whether you hike on special occasions, or you and your pup are ready to be backpacking professionals, it’s important to stay familiar with safety procedures. If something happens deep into a hiking trail your dog is relying on you with everything they’ve got so it’s important that you know exactly what to do if something goes wrong.


Taking the road less traveled

As long as you remain cautious and diligent in protecting your dog as you hike together, many possible problems can be easily overlooked. Going hiking can be much more unpredictable than you and your pup’s usual daily stroll, but it truly pays off in the end when both of you have a fantastic time. 

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