Dog owners that enjoy being outdoors on long walks following nature trails can be accompanied by their dogs. Hiking involves core muscle movement, and it is a great way to keep both owner and the dog in a fit body form.
The first hiking trip with a dog should be made on an easy short trail allowing for brakes to rest and continue to work on their paws’ endurance.
However, before proceeding on such a trip, dog owners must ensure that their dog is properly trained and quickly follows the commands to avoid disobedience and even eventual injuries.
Dog owners should prepare the trip in advance by checking the weather conditions, how safe the trail is, pack the hiking gear, the first aid kit, food, and lots of treats to keep the energy going.
Getting ready for a hiking trip with a dog must include hiking gear designed for dogs. You can find useful information online about a dog hiking gear list or discussing with other dog owners with similar activities to yours.
Dog hiking gear comprises of:
- A leash – Retractable leashes are not recommended as they can become tangled quite quickly. This poses a safety hazard for both the dog and its owner. A good quality basic leash is the most suitable for such a day out.
- A dog collar with the dog’s identification badge – If you and the dog get separated, the identification badge or the dog’s microchip will help to reunite the two of you.
- A cooling collar -this helps your dog cool down during extensive walking.
- A dog light and a brightly colored bandana – A flashing light attached to the dog’s collar is suitable for overnight trips and stays, whilst a colored bandana is good for daylight. They will ensure that your dog is visible to other hikers and potential hunters.
- Hiking harness – A hiking harness is great as it distributes the pressure over the body rather than on the neck only. This harness can be used instead of a dog’s collar.
- A backpack – There are backpacks for dogs filled with their hiking essentials: food, water, first aid kit. The backpack can be carried by the dog relieving the master from carrying extra weight in its own backpack.
- Drinking water – In a water bottle designed for dogs. This is essential as the body needs to be kept well hydrated.
- Collapsible bowl – This is very useful as it makes feeding clean and safe for the dog. Being collapsible, this bowl will fit in any backpack.
- Dog food and treats – Enough food should be brought to cover for the trip. Choose one that increases the energy level. Plenty of treats are a must. They will be used both for snaking and training reinforcement.
- First aid supplies – The first aid kit for dogs should comprise of:
* Scissors – to cut out things that get stuck on the fur.
* Sterile solution for eyes – to clean the eye area if anything enters (small dust particles, small insects).
* Tweezers – to remove thorns and splinters.
* Styptic solution for torn or injured dog nails
* Roll gauze and tape to dress eventual wounds
* A special solution to stop bleeding.
* Antiseptic wipes
Full kits can be found in specialized shops or online on Amazon, eBay, or other retailers.
- Insect repellent – to keep pesky bugs at bay.
- Doggy poop bags – always clean up after your dog as a sign of courtesy to other hikers. You could also bury the poop underneath the dirt, without plastic, of course.
- A life vest if you plan to be near the water and allow your dog to swim.
- A dog tent is useful if your dog likes sleeping on its own. It also provides a safe place for taking short naps during longer breaks or escaping the weather.
- A dog bed or dog sleeping bag is a great item to have with you if you plan an overnight stay camping or in a B&B. It provides the dog with a cozy, comfortable place to sleep close to its owners.
When hiking with a dog, owners should constantly check for any sign of wounds and scratches, especially on the paws.
The dog’s paws are the most exposed body parts to the elements, unknown dangers from the smallest things like insect bites or walking on thorns, slipping between crakes, exposure to splinters, and eventual snake bites. On top of these external factors, the movement and the constant pressure applied to its paws can make a dog feel tired and possibly lead to internal injuries.
An increasing number of outdoorsy dog owners are starting to take all of these into consideration and opt to buy dog hiking boots. These boots are sturdy and specifically designed for endurance.
Dogs can be trained to wear boots, first indoors on different flooring types, then outdoors in the garden, or short walking trips. They need to be exposed to different types of terrains and get used to walking with these boots. In this way, the dog will be comfortable on a hiking trip.
On the market, there are dog hiking boots made of waterproof materials such as neoprene. Their soles are made to have a good grip for all kinds of terrains (wet, dry, with pebbles or grass).
To choose the best dog hiking boots, the owner needs to consider the level of difficulty that the chosen trail poses. The boots should be comfortable to wear and allow the dog’s natural movement whilst being strapped into them.
It is considered important to choose the appropriate boot size. This can be done by measuring the dog’s paws by pressing the paws on a piece of paper, placing marks on both sides, and measuring the marks’ distance. The result will be compared to the measuring chart for dog boots.
Where to buy the dog hiking gear from?
This gear is available in specialised shops for outdoor adventures, some pet shops, some supermarkets.