A great way to enjoy the outdoors is to hike with your dog. You are entertained, the dog gets exercise and the relationship between the two of you deepens, sometimes quite meaningfully as happened to me. In my case it was my dog Emme who led me into a passion for mountain hiking and climbing that was to be far beyond anything either of us could have predicted.
Emme was a natural climber, despite her small size as a 20-pound Australian terrier. She had muscles on her muscles, and she had a mental resolve to overcome every challenge we met as we hiked longer and higher.
However, not every dog is suited to the hiking experience. Make sure, possibly by a visit with your vet, that your dog does not have health considerations affecting its ability to hike. It is also critical that your dog is completely socialized with other dogs and strange people you will likely meet along the way.
I recommend that you have no more than one dog per person and no more than two dogs total in a group. Three dogs in a pack can be more aggressive than usual and can be intimidating to others on the trail.
Here are a few starter basics:
- Collar and Tag: Equip your dog with a collar or harness and a tag with the dog’s name and your contact number
- Leash and Water Cup: Equip yourself with a leash, water cup and the other items in either of the equipment lists you already have from me.
- Water: Bring enough water for both of you. Hydration is as important for your dog as for you.
- Medical: Be up to date with vaccinations, flea, tick, and heartworm protection.
- Trail etiquette: Always yield to human hikers. If your dog is prone to approach others or even bark, I always call ahead with “She’s friendly, just makes a bit of noise.”
- Stay Alert: If you are uncertain about anything along the way (challenging terrain, changing weather, signs of wild animals), quickly get your dog on a short leash if it isn’t already.
- Food and Treats: Bring treats and food you know your dog can eat and to which your dog will respond – some typical human trail foods, like raisins, are not good for dogs.
- When you get home, check for ticks!
For more dog-related hiking subjects, see: