There’s nothing quite like getting in touch with nature, and one of the best ways to enjoy the world around us is by hiking some of the most beautiful outdoor places. Exploring nature is one of the most fulfilling experiences, so why shouldn’t our furry friends get to enjoy the sites as well?
It may take a little training, but a dog can actually be one of the most perfect hiking companions. Not only do they love exploring and experiencing something new, but they have ample energy and find so much joy in long walks, something difficult to find in a human hiking buddy. To make the most out of your next adventure with your furry friend, here are some tips for how to hike with your pup.
Get the right leash and harness.
To ensure safety for both you and your furry friend, choosing the right leash and dog harness is a necessity. You want something that’s comfortable, secure, and won’t slip off of high energy escape artists. Look for a harness that includes a handle, in case your dog has trouble on specific terrain. You may also want something that has extra storage space for bringing along treats or waste bags for picking up after your dog. Dog harnesses come in front-clip or back-clip options, and the right choice will depend on your dog’s size and demeanor.
A good harness will have a secure, padded strap that fastens around their chest and goes under their armpits. You want something that does not dig in, but simply holds them securely in a way that’s comfortable even when they’re pulling on the leash after seeing a cute woodland creature.
Take a trial run.
Before you hit the most difficult hiking trails, start with training your dog to go on walks in your neighborhood or even around the house. Getting a puppy used to wearing a leash and harness might be difficult at first, especially if you’re not sure how a new dog might react to strangers, other animals, or certain cues. It’s vital that your dog is aware of typical cues such as “sit” and “stay” in a controlled environment before testing it out in nature, where you may be at risk of injury.
Talk to your vet.
Looking to get your older dog outdoors for a little more exercise? Perhaps your furry friend has been dealing with declining health or weight gain and you feel a little activity would help them regain mobility and energy. Talk to your vet about their health and whether hiking might be right for them. This may also depend on other factors, like breed and size. Some dogs may not be good hiking companions, as they cannot handle the strenuous activity. It’s important to understand their health before bringing them out on the trail.
Take a break to refuel.
When hiking with your dog, bring along snacks and water so they can refuel along the way. Especially on a hot summer day, stopping for water multiple times during the day is important for their health—and yours too. If you’re feeling hot, chances are your fur-covered friend is hot too, and it might be time for a break.
Stay leashed at all times.
Just because your dog is well-behaved around humans and other animals doesn’t mean humans and other animals will be well-behaved around your dog. An aggressive dog on a leash may go into panic mode when approached by a friendly dog, making them harder for their owner to control, and it could result in an injury for any of the involved parties. Plus, many parks and nature trails require your dog to be leashed. If you’re out of the house with your dog, they should be leashed at all times for everyone’s safety.
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