Thinking of taking a break from the monotony of city life and going hiking with dogs? We hear you!
Embarking on a natural trail with your furry companion is fun, a nice change of scenery, a great way to bond and also fantastic exercise. While most dogs make excellent hiking companions, we must ensure, as dog parents, that they are cared for on this journey.
Hiking with dogs invariably becomes that of creating the perfect trail—one that’s enjoyable, safe and stress-free. Here’s how you can go about it.
Before the Hike
Before you book your tickets or pack bags, make sure the place has dog friendly hiking trails. Some fantastic trails to explore are the Himalayan village of Sari, Shivanasamudra (Karnataka), Naneghat (Western Ghats) and Prashar Lake (Himachal Pradesh). (source)
As pet parents, we want our pets to accompany us everywhere but that’s not always possible. Check your destination city for any regulations on taking dogs on hikes, to avoid fines or issues with fellow hikers.
- Consult your veterinarian on your dog's overall fitness and make sure their vaccinations are up to date. At times, underlying medical conditions do not become apparent until your dog is put through extreme physical activity. Also look for verified vets in the area you’ll be going to, in case your dog needs expert care.
If your dog has arthritis, mobility issues or has never gone hiking before, pick a less challenging trail or break the trail up into smaller routes so that your dog has enough time to rest.
HUFT Tip: Don’t forget to pack a first aid kit containing supplements, antibiotics, ointments, cotton and gauze, tick and flea solutions, etc. It’s best to be prepared for any surprises.
Plan for your dog’s needs and also your own. Pack plenty of dog food, water, dog toys and bowls to keep them well-fed, energised, hydrated and comfortable. If your dog eats dry food, carry portions of their food for as many days you wish to hike. If they prefer wet food or home-cooked food, we recommend that you refrigerate it so that it doesn’t get spoiled. You can also check in with the hotel to see if you can store the food in their fridge.
Pack essentials like dog boots and HUFT Organic Healing Balm for rough terrains, HUFT Fresh Paws Sanitiser (alcohol-free), dog raincoats and dog jackets in case temperatures drop.
Water is an extremely important part of hiking with dogs. Hot days, dry dog food, long walks and rugged terrain—all call for extra water. Carry plenty of water for your dog and yourself. If you’re thirsty, chances are that your dog is too!
HUFT Tip: Looking for an easy-to-carry dog bowl? Choose from our wide range of anti-skid bowls, elevated bowls, diners and more here.
When taking your dog hiking, it’s natural for them to get curious and want to explore everything! As a pet parent, you naturally want your dog to have fun while keeping safe, right? This is where cues come in. Cues like Come, Stay, Sit, etc. are generally helpful but you may also choose cues that are specific to hiking too.
Remember: Your dog should be off leash only if the space is safe and you have practised outdoor communication with your dog well enough.
Have your dog on a dog collar or dog harness for identification purposes and on a leash only when hiking. This will ensure your dog’s safety and let other hikers or dogs feel comfortable. The HUFT reflective collar & leash set also makes it easy to locate your pet in low visibility areas or bad weather.
HUFT Tip: Not all dogs can hike long distances, eg. puppies, small dogs and senior dogs. Hiking on very hot days is also not advisable because it will tire your dog easily and cause stress.
During the Hike
- We love our dogs unconditionally and naturally assume that other people or dogs will feel the same way. But this may not always be the case. So, it’s important to leash your furry companion to ensure their and everyone’s safety around them (but only when hiking).
- Avoid trails that are known to have wildlife or too many streeties, to minimise the chances of unpleasant encounters.
- Be careful of what your dog accidentally ingests during the trail, especially if they seem uncomfortable.
- Choose a trail with trees and water sources on sunny days.
Picking up after your dog is an unspoken rule of hiking with dogs. Make sure to pick up after them and discard the poop bags into the nearest dustbin.
- As on any day out, never leave your dog in the car. The temperature can get hot unexpectedly, even on cool days.
The whole point of taking your dog hiking is to take a break, so don’t forget to take breaks between hikes as well. Give your dog sufficient water and a small snack, if necessary. For mealtimes, allow your dog to rest/sleep and regain their energy. Watch how long your dog takes to normalise their breath and take breaks accordingly. Watch out for signs of foaming of the mouth, limping, vomiting, discomfort, fever, etc.
After the Hike
After your hiking trip, take time to rest and recover. Keep walks very short. If your dog shows any signs of discomfort after the hike, consult a vet immediately.
Have questions? We’ll answer them!
Is it okay to hike with dogs?
For most dog breeds, hiking is a great way to provide physical and mental stimulation. It also lets you bond with your dog, gives them a chance to get out of the house and explore new places.
How long can a dog hike?
This depends on your dog’s breed, age and fitness level. Even if your dog is completely healthy, it doesn’t mean that they can hike all day. For instance, Brachycephalic breeds like pugs and Boxers can’t hike long-distance as they have short muzzles and flat faces, which might result in breathing problems. It’s best to consult your vet or trainer before planning the hike.
How do I protect my dog’s paws on long hikes?
If you’re going to a place with soft, grassy hiking trails, you needn’t worry about your dog’s paws as much. But rough terrains will not be a friend to your dog’s paws, so it’s best to pack essentials like dog boots and HUFT Organic Healing Balm to keep paws protected. We also recommend the HUFT Fresh Paws Sanitiser (alcohol-free) to keep your dog’s paws clean.
Can small dogs hike long distances?
Yes, small dogs can hike long distances, but not as much as big breeds. Start off with a short hike and increase your pace and distance. Again, irrespective of your dog’s breed or size, consult your veterinarian on your dog's overall fitness before embarking on the journey.
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