Getting Started Guide: Hiking with Dogs

Hiking with your dog is an excellent way to explore the great outdoors, providing both mental and physical stimulation for you and your furry friend. Read on to learn how to prepare for your journey, what gear to bring, and how to leave no trace to make the most of your shared adventures in nature.

Research dog-friendly trails in your area and choose one suitable for your dog's fitness level. Check if the trail allows dogs off-leash or requires them to be leashed at all times. Take note of any potential hazards or restrictions along the trail.

Ensure your dog is in good health and up to date on vaccinations. Visit your veterinarian for a check-up before embarking on a long hike. Train your dog to obey basic commands like "sit," "stay," and "come" as well as “leave it” and “drop it.”

Invest in a well-fitted dog harness with a handle for better control and safety. Use a sturdy leash, preferably 6 feet long, to keep your dog close. Pack essentials: water bottle, collapsible dog bowl, poo bags, treats, and a first aid kit with enough supplies for all humans and dogs in your pack.

Always check with your vet prior to starting a new physical activity with your dog.  Start with shorter hikes and gradually increase the distance to build your dog's endurance. Consider your dog's breed, age, and physical abilities when setting hiking goals. Give your dog regular exercise to improve stamina and muscle strength.

Keep your dog on a leash. Respect trail etiquette and yield to other hikers. Stay alert for wildlife and potential dangers like poisonous plants.

Carry enough water for both you and your dog to stay hydrated. Offer fresh water to your dog at regular intervals to prevent dehydration. Take frequent breaks to rest, especially on hot days. Provide shade if available or use a cooling bandana or vest to help your dog stay cool. Go at your dog’s pace.

Leave no trace: Carry out all waste and dispose of it properly. Respect wildlife and do not let your dog disturb or chase animals. Keep your dog away from sensitive areas, such as fragile ecosystems or protected habitats.

Be aware of weather conditions before heading out and avoid extreme temperatures. Check for ticks, burrs, or any injuries on your dog during and after the hike. Know basic pet first aid and be prepared to handle emergencies.

Packing list
- Well-fitted harness with handle
- Sturdy 6’ leash, preferably hands-free and with bungee
- Water bottle and collapsible dog bowl
- Dog food and/or treats
- Poo bags
- First aid kit with supplies for dogs and people
- Dog ID & vet info
- Tick and flea protection
- Paw cleaner or wipes and towel 

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