How to Keep Your Dog Safe on Hiking Trails
Ah, the weather is turning cooler and the leaves are changing colors.
Don’t you love that crisp air?
Yet, before you leash up Max for a demanding hike, make sure he’s up for it.
Yet, just as you wouldn’t drag yourself off the couch and head out for a 5K with zero training, you’ll want to make sure your dog is up for your hiking style.
A gentle cruise around the lake is appropriate for most senior pups. But if you’re an experienced hiker, you’ll probably want more.
Know Your Pet’s Capabilities
Older dogs and puppies may not have the stamina or the skills for challenging hikes. Puppies less than 9 months don’t have fully formed joints. This means falls on steep trails can hurt now and lead to a chronic injury later.
Of course, older dogs may have arthritis, hip dysplasia or other mobility issues. While exercise is great for them, a gentle walk is better.
In both cases, you’ll do better to stick to easier paths.
Don’t Take a Pack
Keep your dog to human ratio 1:1. It’s tough to manage two or more dogs in a new environment.
It’s tempting to let your dog off leash in a wooded area, if you do let your pet off-lead, you want to make sure they’ll come back to you when you call them. That’s harder if you have two or more dogs because they form a pack. The pack mentality instills confidence which can lead to aggression with other dogs or the desire to run off and explore. ]
Unless you have the control of a dog trainer, multiple dogs off leash in the woods is not a good plan.
Do Pack a First Aid Kit
Bee stings, cuts and abrasions can make even the friendliest dog unhappy. Make like a good Scout and “be prepared”.
- ace bandage
- baking soda (in case of bee stings)
- stop bleeding powder
- dog booties for paw protection.
The Snuggy Boots Suspender System will ensure you don’t lose those dog boots.
Take along clean drinking water (and something to put it in). Outdoors.org recommends a quart of water for every 3 miles you’ll hike. Also, bring along doggie snacks and /or food to maintain energy if you’ll be out for awhile.
No matter what sort of outdoor activities you choose, it’s a good idea to make sure your pet’s collar is snug and has up to date tags with your phone number and address just in case you get separated.
Do you take your dog(s) hiking? If so, what would you include on the list?