The Adventurer's Guide
4 Tips for Taking Your Dog Hiking
A human and their dog: A relationship unlike any other. There are few experiences you can have with your pup more memorable than stepping out into nature for the ultimate walk. Step One is to find a dog-friendly trail. Most national parks are not open to canines, but a little research will find the ones that are. In Croatia, for instance, Krka National Park welcomes Fido, Rufus, or Maggie to explore its unaltered landscape and seven waterfalls. No matter where in the world you are, here are some important things to consider before your hike.
1. Train for your Hike
It may sound silly, but you’re going to need to get in shape before your big hike — and that goes for you and your furry friend. If either you or your dog are beginner hikers, take some longer-than-normal walks leading up to the hike to increase your conditioning. Dogs are just like humans — they have their own fitness level that needs to be maintained or they’ll fall out of shape. If you’re coming off a long winter hibernation where the snowy, chilly walks were much shorter than usual, then you’ll both need to build that heart rate back up before taking on a challenging trail.
2. Be Prepared
Hiking solo requires preparation — but taking a four-legged friend along with you adds a long list of things to think about. You’ll need to pack plenty of food, water with a collapsible bowl, and a sturdy leash. There are plenty of safety-related items you’ll want to pack (see below), and one tactic is to share the load with your dog by strapping on a handy dog backpack. If you go that route, experts recommend something no more than 25% of your dog’s weight and packed evenly. Make sure it fits them comfortably and even let them wear it around the house first to get used to it.
3. Take Safety Measures
We’ve placed it third on this list, but the truth is safety comes first. We mean the safety of you, your dog, and everyone around you. Remember that hiking trails are shared and not to be taken for granted. Before you leave home, ensure your dog has on a proper, updated ID tag with your contact information. Pack a pet first aid kit to care for paw lacerations, eye obtrusions, and more, and learn how to use in case of emergency. After any hike, before returning home or back to your accommodation, always check your dog for ticks, bites, or cuts.
4. Practice Good Etiquette
A short sturdy leash is particularly important. Though you might assume everyone loves your well-behaved dog, you never know who or what you may encounter on the trail. Bring a solid leash in case of other dogs that aren’t as well trained, or people that are scared. Along the way, be a responsible owner and pick up your dog’s … droppings. Think about the people behind you wearing their favorite hiking shoes — ‘nuff said!