Although the current restrictions don’t allow travelling to other locations for exercise, backpacking with dogs can be great fun – so why not try it once lockdown is over? If you’re planning on taking your furry friend out hiking with you when restrictions have been lifted, you’ll have to prepare that little bit more to ensure the two of you hit the trail with everything you need for a safe, practical and fun adventure. From getting clued up on potential perils of the outdoors, to grabbing the nice-to-haves as well as the absolute essentials, knowing how to hike with your dog makes all the difference. Discover 5 of the best tips for hiking with your dog below.
5 Tips for hiking with your dog
1. Plan in advance
Tips for hiking with your dog don’t just come in the form of an equipment checklist, which is why you’ll need to do some planning to make sure that your hike is appropriate for you and your dog before you set foot (or paw) anywhere.
First of all, distance is a key factor. Map out your intended route and work out whether you think your four-legged friend will be able to keep up. As a general rule, even the largest and fittest of dogs would struggle anything past the 10-mile mark. You’ll also need to have a good idea of terrain, as pathways that are particularly rocky, jagged, or overgrown won’t be suitable. Lastly, make sure your trail allows dogs. If there are areas that don’t, try to plan around them.
2. Bring the right gear
Backpacking with dogs means preparing for an extra set of legs, so whatever you’d bring for yourself, double it and then some. At a minimum, you’ll need the following to make sure you’re prepared for everything the trail can throw at you, and to make sure your dog is comfortable, safe and prepared for the trip ahead. Here’s some dog hiking equipment that you’ll need to pack:
● Food and water
● Waste bags
● A blanket
● A high-vis jacket (in case it gets dark)
● Dog clothing (A coat or jumper for warmth, and protection against foliage)
3. Keep an eye on your dog
So you’ve researched dog friendly hiking trails, mapped out your route, gathered all your gear, and you’re off on the trail. Sorted, right? Not quite. When it comes to hiking with dogs, just as much care and attention needs to go into the hike as the preparation before it.
Dogs like to hurtle off and investigate, but it’s important to make sure you always have an eye on where they’re walking to avoid any edges or poisonous/harmful plant life (that includes touching and eating it!). It’s up to you to decide whether or not a lead is the safest option for your hike. Other than that, as long as you make sure they are well fed and hydrated, you and your pup should be fine. Just make sure to take note of how tired they are getting and be prepared to take a break or turn back whenever you need to.
4. Observe your surroundings
Depending on where you’re hiking and how far you’re venturing, your adventure can pass through multiple environments. Being aware of these changes is paramount to making sure you and your dog are not only safe, but also abiding by any rules.
While you may be using dog friendly hiking trails, if at any point you leave the trail, it’s good to know whether you’re still in a dog friendly area, and if there are any signs requiring you to keep your pooch on a lead at all times. It’s also good to be aware of things like cyclists, children and other dogs where keeping your pet close is advisable.
5. Check your pup over
Hiking with your dog is great fun, but once the both of you are all worn out, it’s a good idea to give them a quick check over. Make sure they’re not too tired or dehydrated and let them drink and rest as required if they are. As long as there are no cuts, bruises or scrapes, they’ll probably be ready for an evening of relaxing. If you’ve tackled a particularly muddy trail, treating your dog to a bath when you get back is probably a good idea.
Combining your love of dogs and hiking is easier than you might think, as long as you’re well prepared. From biodegradable poop bags to storm guards and mesh harnesses, grab everything you need from our Pet Accessories range at Hawkshead.
Got all your tips for hiking with your dog and finally ready to hit the trail? Now you know all the ins and outs of how to hike with your dog, why not check out some of the best dog friendly walking trails for some inspiration?