Hiking With Your Dog
Most dogs, especially sporting dogs like German Shepherds, love the outdoors and there couldn’t be anything more enjoyable to them than taking a hike with you. That being said, there is some prep that you need to do in order to pull off a successful hike, especially if your pup is new to the experience.
If you are getting ready for your first hike with your dog, here are some things to give thought to.
Before You Plan Your Hike
Before you plan your hiking trip and get all excited, you need to make sure that your dog is suitable for the riggers of the trail.
Visit The Vet
A pre-hike veterinary visit is very much recommended, especially if your dog has not been to the doctor in some time. This will ensure that your dog is strong enough to enjoy the trip and that they are current on all of their vaccinations and pet meds. At a minimum, they need to be up on their flea and tick medicine, because you will likely run into them on your journey.
Check With The Park
You might be surprised at just how many parks have restrictions on domesticated animals. Seems like they should be allowed anywhere in nature, but this is usually not the case, particularly in environmentally sensitive areas. Your dog might be limited to certain areas of a park or might not even be allowed at all. Check beforehand to make sure that you do not get turned away.
You may encounter other animals and dangers on the trail, so your dog needs to know that they should listen to you. The days or weeks leading up to your trip should be used to refresh your dogs obedience skills. Simple skills like stay, sit and come should be reinforced.
Packing For Your Trip
Your dog passed their check up, they are trained and you are ready to go. Now, what should you pack? Don’t ruin your good time by forgetting something important.
Food & Water
You know that your dog needs to at and drink, but remember that they will be working harder than normal. This means bringing more food and water than your dog might typically consume. Pack 50 percent more food than your dog normally consumes, just to account for the extra energy expenditure. Also, keep in mind that you may not be able to find any potable water along the way, so carry plenty in.
Food and water, that should be it right? Not exactly there are a few more things that you should consider. Booties, for example are a good choice even if your dog is used to walking long distances outdoors. They can prevent your pup from getting a cut or even a scrape on their paw that could make them come up lame.
Other good items to bring include nail clippers, something warm for them to wear and a stocked first aid kit. If things are getting tight in your pack, you can even invest in a pack for your dog to wear. Nobody says that they can not carry their own weight, just keep the contents reasonable and don’t turn your dog into a pack mule.
On Your Hike
Once your hike is under way, you still need to take caution, particularly if your dog is new to the outdoors.
You might be able to go longer than that dog of yours, but they will never let you know. Your dog will do everything in their power to keep up, even if it means causing themselves physical harm, so regulate how much energy they expend and keep your breed in mind. If you have a brachycephalic breed such as a French Bulldog or Pug, keep the walks short. Sporting breeds will be able to go much longer, but they should still be monitored. Don’t just assume that your dog is doing fine, take breaks to make certain.
Look Out For Nature
Dangers abound on the trail and often it is in the form of nature. You should always be on the lookout for wildlife and plants that could pose a problem for your dog. The best bet is to keep your dog on a short 6 foot leash so that you can quickly reel them in at any moment. Pay particular attention to plants along the trail which could easily become an ill advised snack.