How to prepare for a hike with your dog

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12 March 2020
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Dogs are perfect companions to take with you on your outdoor adventures but you do need to make sure that they are ready to handle this experience.

You need to plan accordingly so that you can optimise the fun but also the safety for both you and your beloved companion. Below you’ll find a list of the things you need to keep in mind when going on a hike with your dog.

Prepare yourself and the dog for the trail

If your pet is not used to walking over long distances you should build up its endurance by taking longer walks or jogs. You should also take the time to talk to your vet and ask him or her if your dog is physically ready for the trail if it needs vaccinations or preventative medicines and if its immune system is ready to handle the big outdoors.

It is very important to know your trail regulations so make sure you check the rules for your area before hiking or backpacking. For example, in the USA, some national parks, won’t allow dogs to share the trail even if they are on a leash. National forests are more lenient and most will allow dogs on their trail system. Don’t forget the leash since it is mandatory almost everywhere.

If you plan to walk with your dog off-leash then make sure you practice good manners. A consistent recall is also very important since you don’t want the pup wandering off and getting lost.

It is good etiquette to have control over the dog and have it walking next to you when other dogs or hikers pass by. Even if your dog is trained and well-behaved, you can never know how other people and dogs will react, so it is best to keep it near you to avoid unpleasant situations.

Get a dog pack

If you plan to hike with a big dog, then you should consider getting a doggie backpack to help lighten the load. You shouldn’t burden your pet with a lot of weight. Once loaded, the backpack should not weigh more than 10 to 12% of your dog’s total body weight.

The pack should be placed up near the dog’s shoulders and not down on the hips since this way it will feel more comfortable. Before taking the pack on the trail it is best to have your dog wear it during your regular walks so that it gets used to it. This way you won’t run into troubles out on the trails.

As to what you can carry in the doggie backpack, it depends on the size of your dog. You can add things such as a first aid kit, water and food, water and food bowls and other essentials that you can find on Drfoxmag.

Keep your pet safe

You should take a few breaks here and there and take a moment to watch how fast your dog’s breathing and how long it takes its heart to go down to a normal rhythm during breaks. If the dog seems too tired then you should take more breaks and spend fewer hours on the trail. If you notice that your dog has a slight limp then this is a sign that you should stop for the day.

Don’t let the pet chew on anything in the wild and if you notice it, you should halt chewing immediately since there are many wild plants that could poison or cause digestive-system problems. Ticks are also a problem, so make you use tick repellents and that you check your dog closely after the hike so that you can remove any hitchhikers.

Food and water

Your dog will be very active on the trail and this means it will also require more food and water than usual. An average dog will drink anywhere between 8.5 to 17 ounces of water per 10 pounds of body weight each day.

These are general rules and during the hot days, you should offer water more often. The nose of the pet should be wet and if it is dry then you are most likely not giving it enough water.

As far as food is concerned, you should start with the usual amount of food that you feed when you’re at home and add another cup of food for every 20 pounds of dog weight.