There’s nothing more rewarding than traversing through nature with your canine companion. Dogs love adventure. The thrill of exploration, especially through forest terrain, is a magical moment. Hiking is a great way to deepen and develop your bond with your pet. Before you embark on your journey, make sure you are ready!
Assess the Hike
What is the terrain? Is it mountainous or flat? How long will it take to finish the route? Can your dog complete the journey? These are questions that you must ask yourself. Start with an easy, short route close to home if this is your first time. This will allow you to track your dog and feel its comfort levels.
Put Your Dog First
Every dog is built a little differently. Some love to run through the mud and chase squirrels, while others would love nothing more than to stay at home. Some live up to their breed namesakes, while others have embraced the comfort of modern life. Brachycephalic breeds or senior dogs may have difficulty performing extraneous activities. Whatever your dog’s stamina and endurance level are, find a trail that can accommodate them. You can ramp up the terrain's difficulty once they ease into your hiking routine. It may be useful to look into carrying aids, such as the YAP Sak, for dogs that have a bit of difficulty on longer hikes and need help.
Bring Water and Snack
Snacks and hydration are essential on any hike. Be sure to pack enough for yourself and your canine companion! Pets may require a bit more food for longer hikes and overnight hiking expeditions. Take the extra calories they are burning into account when packing for both of you. Ensure you have the right equipment, whether that be a portable water bowl or travel pouch. Have your dog carry their own essentials with a compression saddle. Water and food can be placed in either compartment to reduce the heaviness of your own hiking backpack. Water sources along your hike, such as ponds, creeks, or streams, may be contaminated. Stop and give your dog many opportunities along your hike to hydrate.
Be Wary of the Season
Humans have a variety of outdoor equipment and attire to choose from. These include insulated jackets, beanies, hiking boots, and even backpacks. This is also the case for dogs. Modern dogs have evolved to fit in with modern times. Most domesticated dogs are far removed from their primordial ancestors. Ensure your dog is comfortable on its walk by using the right harness and equipment. Take into consideration the terrain. Snowfall, extreme heat, trailside vegetation, and even rocky routes can irritate the pads on your pet’s feet. Be on the lookout for dried vegetation. One misstep can cause a bloody paw. Pack a first aid kit with some type of paw salve or wax. Dog hiking boots are a good investment for serious, more off-the-beaten-path hikers.
Listen for Wildlife
Once you are out on the trail, listen for wildlife. There may be other apex predators in the area. Steer clear and try to avoid confrontation. Keep untrained dogs on a leash. If your pet is particularly headstrong, try using a shorter leash to keep them out of harm’s way. Research local flora and fauna. This will acquaint you with any potential threats, such as venomous or poisonous insects, snakes, and plants.
Be safe out there and have fun! Share your trail stories with us on Instagram @yapusa.