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. I take no credit for figuring that out, it was my wife, Pamela. The full story is in my upcoming book, but it was Pamela who wanted a dog early in our later-in-life marriage. She decided on the Australian terrier breed, selected a female pup, named her Emme, and struggled through her early years with Emme’s alpha personality while trying dog showing, having a litter and even going to a dog camp. Pamela’s goal was for Emme to win me over. Once the hiking started, Emme not only won me over, but she 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. She had muscles on her muscles, and she had a mental resolve to overcome every challenge we met as we hiked longer and higher. She became my dog and more importantly, my best friend at a time when I needed it.
However, not every dog is suited to the hiking experience. Make sure, possibly by a visit with your vet, that the dog doesn’t 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’ll likely meet along the way.
I also recommend you have no more than one dog per person and no more than two dogs total. Three dogs in a pack can be more aggressive than usual and can be intimidating to others on the trail.
Here are a few basics, more will follow in future notes.
- Equip your dog with a collar or harness and a tag with name and your contact number
- Equip yourself with a leash, water cup and the other items in Short Equipment List or Longer Day Hiking Equipment Checklist you already have from me.
- Bring enough water for both of you. Hydration is as important for your dog as for you.
- Be sure your dog is 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.”
- If you are uncertain about anything along the way, quickly get your dog on a short leash if it isn’t already.
- Bring some treats or food you know your dog can eat – some typical human trail foods, like raisins, are not good for dogs.
- When you get home, check for ticks!