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Hiking intelligently with your pooch

Going on a hike doesn’t get any better than when it’s with your dog. Dogs need the exercise as much as we do, and they enjoy the sounds and smells of nature (probably more than we do). Take some preventative measures to ensure you have the best doggie hike you can.

Similar to going to the beach, going for a hike can be very fun and rewarding while also being extremely dangerous for your dog. Preparation to go on a hike is key, the harder the hike, the more preparation, and even the slightest hike requires some prep.

Pre-hike preparation

Just like humans, dogs’ energy comes and goes based on conditioning. If you are fit to handle a 10-mile hike, but your pup only gets outside to run around in a small dog park for 15 minutes a day, you might be putting your dog in a bad situation when you go on that hike. Also, just like humans, dogs need to adjust to elevation differences. So, if you live at sea level and head up to 8,000 feet for a hike, make sure your dog is as adjusted to the elevation difference as you are. Dog vertigo is no fun.

The big day

Going on a hike with your dog should be a fun, rewarding experience. Start your experience off right by checking the trail’s website to ensure that dogs are allowed to go on the trail. Many national parks don’t allow dogs on most trails, and a lot of bad dog owners have ruined trails for the rest of us. Once you know that your dog is allowed to come with you on your hike, be sure to pack the following: cool water, a water bowl, food, a jacket for sun protection, sunscreen, doggie booties if you’re going on harsh terrain, a strong leash and collar, and a doggie first-aid kit. In this case, you’d rather overpack a little weight than carry your dog down the side of a mountain.

Watch out for warning signs

Dog panting is perfectly normal. Dogs lying down in the middle of a trail in the hot sun is not. Refer back to our post on taking the dog to the beach for information on helping overcome heat exhaustion. If your dog’s nose gets dry, there’s a chance she is not feeling well. Pink skin is another sign. Finally, watch out for dog’s pads on hiking trails; there is often broken glass, sharp rocks, and other items that can injure her pads and require you to use your dog first-aid kit. When in question, always err on the side of caution. Unfortunately, our pups can’t warn us when something is really wrong.