Dogs are natural-born explorers. They love getting out and checking out new surroundings, which is why hiking with your dog can be a great experience for both of you. Not only will your dog get to exercise and explore, but you'll also get to enjoy the beauty of nature. However, there are some things you need to keep in mind before hitting the trails with your pup. Keep reading for a few tips for keeping both of you safe.

How Fit Is Your Dog?

Before you hit the trails with your furry hiking buddy, it's important to make sure that your dog is physically fit enough for the journey. While all dogs love a good walk, not all of them are built for hiking. Depending on the age and health of your dog, as well as their overall fitness level, you'll need to decide whether or not they're up for the challenge. If your dog is older or has health problems, it's probably best to stick to shorter walks on level ground. However, if they're young and active, they should be able to handle longer hikes with some inclines. The key is to start slowly and gradually increase the difficulty of the hike as your dog gets more comfortable.

Is Your Dog Socialized?

Your dog should be socialized and generally well-behaved in public. This means they should be comfortable around other people and dogs and know how to properly walk on a leash. Your dog should also have basic obedience skills. This includes responding to commands like sit, stay, and come when called.

Are Dogs Allowed?

Never assume that a hiking trail is dog-friendly. If a certain trail prohibits hikers from bringing their dogs, there's likely a good reason. Dogs may disturb wildlife, or there may be hazards in the area. Always do your research before selecting a trail and pay attention to all rules and posted signs.

a trail indicating if dogs are allowed or not

Bring Water and Food

Dogs can get dehydrated quickly, especially if they're active, so it's important to make sure they have enough water to stay hydrated. Dog food will help them maintain their energy levels, and it's a good idea to bring extra just in case they get hungry during the hike. Travel bowls and bottles are an easy and efficient way to bring along food and water for your pup.

Pack Supplies in Case of Emergencies

It's important to be prepared in case of an emergency. Make sure to pack a small first-aid kit, flashlight, or whistle in case you get lost. If you're hiking in an unfamiliar area, it might be a good idea to research the trail and surrounding areas beforehand. And always make sure your dog is wearing a collar with ID tags in case they get lost.

Keep Your Dog On a Leash

Be aware of hiking trail etiquette and always keep your dog on a leash. Even if your dog is well-behaved, many hiking trails require dogs to be leashed for the safety of other hikers and wildlife. If your dog does not respond well to commands, it is especially important to keep them on a leash at all times. Harnesses are recommended as they provide more control than traditional collars.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

While enjoying your hike should be your priority, don't forget to stay aware of your surroundings and keep an eye on your dog at all times. Dogs are curious and adventurous by nature and may wander off the trail or into dangerous areas. Be aware of potential hazards such as cliffs, streams, rivers, wildlife, and poisonous plants.

Pick Up After Your Dog

Always pick up after your dog and dispose of waste properly. Not only is it courteous to other hikers, but it also helps to keep the trails clean and safe. Dog waste can contain harmful bacteria that can potentially contaminate water sources and spread disease. In addition, leaving waste on the trail can create a hazard for other hikers, especially if it's not properly disposed of. Always carry a few waste bags with you on your hikes and be sure to pick up after your dog whenever they go.

Conclusion

With a little preparation and common sense, hiking with your dog can be a safe and fun experience for both of you. By following these simple tips – like making sure your dog is physically fit enough for the hike, packing supplies just in case, and keeping your dog leashed at all times – you can help make sure your outing is a safe and enjoyable one. And don't forget to shop Petmate's selection of products perfect for hiking with dogs, including durable leashes, portable water bowls, and breathable mesh harnesses. We hope you have fun hitting the trails this summer!

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