Grab some fresh air and maintain fitness by taking your four-footed pal hiking. Fall is a fantastic time of year for hiking as the temperatures become moderate and the leaves turn color. Not only does hiking in nature boost your memory, but it also makes you happy and reduces stress. Before you hit the trail, check out the below tips.
Pack these hiking basics:
Use the treats to get your dog’s attention when you politely walk your dog by another hiker and to reward your dog for other desirable behaviors on the trail, such as not pulling. Work on training your dog through a series of commands as well as practicing loose leash walking.
Bring water for you and your dog (and a dog bowl), even if it's not overly hot. You both will get thirsty at some point on the trail, and you shouldn't allow your dog to drink from water found on the ground due to the risk of parasites such as Giardia.
Means of communication
Bring a charged mobile phone or radio and a baggie for your phone in case it rains.
Be a responsible dog owner and help ensure that dogs are still welcome on that trail.
A map of the trail or a (digital) picture of the map saved on your smart phone can be helpful if you lose reception or take a wrong turn.
Extra layers of clothing
Weather may abruptly change. In addition, a hike with changes in elevation may impact what you need to bring.
Pack a first aid kit
Building a pet first aid kit that can be carried during hiking is key to solving problems on the trail. Include in your kit:
- Gauze pads and adhesive wrap.
- Allergy pills. Does your canine try to eat wasps? Years ago I had a black lab who loves to try to chomp anything that flew nearby- stinger or not! Having allergy pills on hand for bee stings or insect bites may be a good idea. Benadryl or Zyrtec are brands of antihistamines that dogs and humans can take – ask your vet for dosage advice.
- Band-Aids - for you - in case you get pesky blisters. You should, of course, wear your comfortable hiking or athletic shoes.
- Sunscreen. It’s not just for humans! Dogs may need sunscreen, too, especially if you are hiking in a non-shaded area. Dogs are at risk for some types of skin cancer, but you can help prevent this condition with these helpful sun protection tips for dogs.
Tips for hiking fitness:
- Start slowly with shorter hikes and then build up to longer hikes with your dog to prevent injuries for both of you.
- Ensure your dog is up to date on flea and tick and heartworm medications.
- Keep your dog on leash. If your dog is off leash, you run the risk of getting a ticket (and paying a fee!), losing your dog or having your dog get injured out of sight (by a “pot hole,” a snake, a sharp rock, etc.).
- Ask other dog owners before letting your dog run up to their dogs; some dogs do not appreciate meeting new dogs, especially when restricted by a leash. You want to ensure that your dog doesn’t end up with an unfriendly greeting.
- Check yourself and your dog for ticks after the hike.
- Use care when determining if your dog should wear a doggie backpack for longer hikes. Check with your veterinarian about the correct weight, if any, that your dog should be carrying. REI also offers advice on “Fitting and loading dog packs” here.
General Hiking Safety
When hiking on trails that are less populated, it's a good idea to tell someone where you’re going and when you should be back home. You can also choose to wear bright colors, such as orange or red so that you can be seen by other hikers sooner than later so you can make room to pass each other as needed. Bright colors may also aid others in finding you if you get lost or injured. And don’t forget your dog’s outfit - you could purchase an orange collar or dog vest.
Be Prepared for the Unexpected!
Choose to enroll your pup in pet insurance before you head out on a hiking adventure to ensure you're protected against unexpected veterinary bills. Even the most advanced hiking dog can have an accident out on the trail. Get a quote today!
Enjoy your hike!