What a perfect time of the year to spend some quality time outdoors with your best friend! Right now is the great time to go for a walk around the neighborhood, to a dog park, or even go on a hike to your favorite hiking location!
There are some things to remember when you go out with your dog. Always keep them on a leash for safety. No matter how much you trust them, they have natural instincts to run off and explore, get to know other dogs and even defend their territory. Depending on the type of dog you have you might need to consider either a harness for a smaller dog or more of a heavy-duty restraint for a larger one.
Hiking with your dog can be an exciting and a very enjoyable experience. It is one in which they will be introduced to many new things in their surroundings that you might otherwise overlook. This increases your awareness levels and also appreciation of nature. Have fun with this; take a camera to capture these fun and exciting experiences.
In order to plan for and prepare your dog for your hiking expedition, make sure that you have the following covered:
- Your dog’s current license and ID tag attached to your dog’s collar.
- Updated vaccinations (this includes rabies); and ensure you and your dog are in relatively good health.
- If your dog is not used to hiking, train him/her for the appropriate fitness and endurance. Start out with small hikes and increase the distance as both of you are conditioned.
- Make sure that your dog receives proper nutrition so they can maintain their energy level when being active. To avoid sickness, do not feed them right before you exercise or hike. Feed them afterwards when they are rested.
- Always verify that dogs are permitted on the trails you wish to hike. Many national and state parks do not allow dogs. However, check their websites or call their information lines.
- Do not allow your dog to chase wildlife, other dogs, or other hikers. Closely supervise them around children, other hikers and other dogs.
- Bring plenty of water and a bowl for your dog. Even though the weather is gorgeous right now, they are working up their energy level and you want to keep them from becoming dehydrated. Dogs can get overheated quickly especially if they have a dark or heavy coat. In addition, make sure you keep yourself hydrated.
- Avoid hiking and other activities in the hottest part of the day. Hike in the early morning or evening. Check the weather channel or newspaper before going.
- Bring a little food/treats if staying out for an extended period of time.
- Take along a first aid kit. Most injuries to dogs occur on the pads of their feet. Hiking can cause cuts and scraps from rocks, sticks, thorns, etc. To avoid burning their feet, do not walk your dog on hot surfaces, such as asphalt.
- Bring a towel to clean up your dog, if necessary.
- Clean up after your dog. Doggie clean up bags or ziplock bags are ideal for clean up and disposal.
- Dogs can also give you an early warning for approaching hikers, animals or other dangers. Pay attention and be alert.
- Look out for dangers, such as rattlesnakes, coyotes, wasps or bees. These dangers may cause injury or even be fatal to your dog. To avoid these be knowledgeable of the terrain you will be traveling on. This will also make it so you can avoid certain areas that are known to be hazardous.
- Where do most people go to see some of the most beautiful views and sceneries? Well the mountains of course. What a great experience for you and your dog to share. However, whenever there are mountains there are numerous dangers. Such as dangerous levels of heights and drop offs. Dogs are curious by nature, be careful of these drop offs. Keep in mind that most dogs have no fear of heights. A dog will literally walk along the side of a mile high cliff without one bit of concern of falling. And once they begin to slip away and lose their footing there is very little that they can do in order to stop themselves from going over the side. Also, many areas along the edges of the cliffs may be hidden by snow covering which makes it easier for a dog to make a fatal mistake.
The most important part of your time out with your dog? Have fun! Remember my recommendation to bring a camera? Capture some great pictures of you and your dog having a great time! Always plan before going out and enjoy these beautiful days that lie ahead. This is a great time to get some exercise before it gets too hot outside!