Wild: A Guide to Hiking With Your Dog
Look outside! In case the date on the calendar hadn’t already tipped you off, summer is in full swing. It’s officially time for rooftop happy hours, weekends at the beach, and exploring the great outdoors with some nice, long hikes.
Your friends may be more partial to catching up on Netflix on their weekend afternoons, but you know who will never say no to scrambling over rock formations with you? Your pup! Follow our guide to make sure you and your four-legged friend are equipped for a fun and successful day on the trail.
Unless it’s snowing and the sidewalks have been salted, we tend to take our dogs outside without much protection. That’s usually fine because the pads on their paws are much stronger than the skin on the bottom of our own feet, but that doesn’t mean they’re impervious to injury. If you’re going to be out in nature with broken sticks, jagged rocks, and other potentially harmful items (i.e. unusually high temperatures), you should take the proper precautions and get that pup a pair of hiking boots!
These might look a little silly, but I promise it’s better than seeing your pup in pain or having to ditch the trail for an unexpected trip to the vet. Account for a brief adjustment period in which your dog will look confused and adorable as he acclimates to his new accessory.
You should also be sure to keep a first aid kit handy. A majority of the kit will be useful for both you and your dog (gauze, bandages, ointment), but there are a few items that will be especially helpful if your pup sustains a small injury or sneaks a bite of something on the trail.
Milk of magnesia, activated charcoal, or 3% hydrogen peroxide can be used to induce vomit in case your dog eats something questionable out there. It’s always best to try and reach your vet first, but if you think your dog has ingested something poisonous, you’ll want to get it out of his system as soon as possible. Dosages vary depending on which substance you use and the size of your dog, so do some research ahead of time. Additionally, it’s wise to include either an eyedropper or syringe in your kit to flush wounds or administer any oral treatments.
Just as you’d never forget to pack plenty of water, granola bars, and GORP for yourself, it’s important to bring water, food, and treats for your dog as well. He’ll sleep plenty that night, but you’ll need to keep his energy up throughout the hike to avoid him plopping down for a mid-afternoon nap.
Pro-tip: Bring a collapsible, silicone travel bowl for food and water and reserve an extra bottle of water for emergency use only (i.e. first aid purposes).
“Take Only Pictures, Leave Only Footprints”
When we enjoy Mother Nature’s beauty, it’s best to do so respectfully and to leave the trail exactly as we found it. While your dog’s waste is perfectly fine on soil, you don’t want to ruin the day (or at least the shoes) of some unlucky hiker behind you. You can of course carry waste bags as you would back in the city, but you might not encounter a trash can until you get back to the parking lot. Instead, we recommend carrying a small shovel with you to bury the evidence. Out of sight, out of mind…and out of smell.
Safety Last, Too
All dog owners should probably do this on a regular basis anyway, but you should definitely make sure to check your dog for ticks after being out in the wild all day. Ticks like to hide and often attach themselves to dark, moist areas on your dog. Check your dog’s whole body thoroughly, but pay extra close attention to the following places:
- Behind, and even inside, the ears
- Between the toes
- Under the tail, especially at the base (yes, you know exactly where I mean…)
- Around the genitals
- Around the eyelids
- Under the collar
Adventure is out there! Have a great summer, everyone.
Are you a seasoned hiking-with-your-dog veteran? Any particularly fun trails you’ve found that are dog friendly? Let us know in the comments section below!