Hiking With Fido, A Guide to Safe Hiking With Your Dog

Hiking with Fido    Finally warmer weather is here! As an avid hiker and dog lover I encourage you to get outside and hike with your fur baby. Hiking is not only beneficial for you it’s a great way to exercise and explore with your pet. If you have never been hiking I suggest to start with long walks in your neighborhood and work your way up to the trails. Here are some tips I use when setting out into the wilderness with my dog, Axel.

Before you hike:

  • Is your dog up to date on all vaccines? If you are unsure, contact your vet to make sure your fur baby has all the proper vaccinations.
  • Is your dog ready? Consider your pet’s health before heading out on an adventure. Is your pet physically fit for a hike? If your pet is obese or has arthritis keep in mind a shorter less strenuous hike would be best for them.
  • Has your dog been socialized to face new situations they may encounter on the trail. While on the trail you may run into other hikers or dogs. Is your pet socialized properly? Hiking should be a stress free and fun activity for you and your dog. Knowing the signs your pet is nervous or stressed will help when you pass or are approached by another fellow hiker with a dog. Keep the interaction to a minimum. Remember, your pet and you should be focused on your hike.
  • Get the right gear. If you’re hiking in the snow or rough terrain consider booties to protect your fur baby’s paws. I learned this the hard way. My partner in crime cut his paw on a sharp rock descending from our 10 mile hike. We were roughly a half mile from the car when he sat down on the side of the trail and would not walk. I had to carry him (80 pounds!) down the rest of the way.
  • Always check if dogs are permitted to hike on the trail. Not all trails are dog friendly. For example some trails are designated for mountain bikers or bird watching. These types of trails are generally off limits to dogs. Do your research on the area and terrain. ALWAYS have a map with you. Trust me on this one! (Bringfido.com)
  • Have enough water for you and your pet. I like to bring a collapsible bowl with me when I take Axel anywhere. As we know, dogs do not sweat like humans. That makes them prone to heat stroke in warmer temperatures. Offer your pet plenty of water. Pay attention to the amount your pet is urinating. If your pet hasn’t urinated in a long time take a break to rest and rehydrate.
  • Have a first aid kit at all times. It’s better to be safe then sorry. A basic first aid kit may include: bandaging material, triple antibiotic cream, tape, hydrogen peroxide, your pets medical records and rabies certificate, poop bags, extra leash, flash light and a muzzle. I never go hiking without bringing Benadryl with me. Last year I took a trip to Vermont with my pal Axel to do some much needed hiking. We stepped on a yellow jacket nest in the ground and swarms of bees attacked. I counted 14 (that I could see through his coat) stings. He began panting heavily, swelling near the sting sites began almost immediately and he seemed extremely weak. We were miles away from any help. We both took Benadryl and rested for 45 minutes before I felt it was safe for Axel to turn around. ALWAYS tell someone where and when you are doing hiking.
  • Check the areas hunting regulations!! This is something I never considered before running into a sign while hiking in the woods stating it was bow hunting season. Since then I tie bells on to Axel’s collar. Having a bright reflective vest is another option.

During your hike:

  • Keep your dog on a leash. This gives you control in case your fur baby runs off to chase a squirrel or other animal. I advise ditching your retractable leash for a stronger shorter leash. I use a 5 foot Para cord leash and collar. Para cord is super durable and water resistant. Which means no rot! Para cord leashes are less expensive as well. I purchased a Para cord collar and leash set for only $ 13.00! Para cord can hold up to 750 pounds and can be used in case of an emergency. If you are crafty you can even make your own Para cord leash using basic knots. Not only is it a fun activity, it will teach you basic survival knots.
  • In case your pet runs off or gets lost make sure their ID tags are properly secured to a collar that won’t slip off. I highly recommend having your pet microchipped. This will allow anyone who finds your companion to contact you to let you know, your pet has been found.
  • Always have plenty of poop bags with you. Clean up after your pet. Remember you are sharing the trail with others. Leave no trace you or your pet were there.
  • Never let your pet drink standing water. Standing water is a breeding ground for harmful parasites and bacteria that can make your pet ill.
  • Bonding time! On the trail you’ll learn to trust each other more. Your pet is relying on you to show them how to react when in unusual situations. Something magical happens when your pet and you are hiking, take a moment and enjoy the adventure.
  • Leaves of 3 let be! Dogs are susceptible to plant base toxins and can pass then to you. Make sure you can identify poison ivy, oak and sumac.
  • Protect your pet from ticks and fleas. Use proper flea and tick preventatives year round. There are many options available now besides just a topical preventative. Ask your vet what would be best for your beloved pet.

After your hike:

  • Check your pet for ticks, burrs or anything else they may have picked up from the trail.
  • Expect your pet to catch some serious ZZZ’s.
  • A tired dog is less likely to act out or misbehave at home.

 

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