Hiking With Your Pup – Guest Post

Categories:Guest Post | Hiking Advice | Hiking With Pets | Pro Tips | Tips Tricks DIY

Hiking is a great way to bond with a puppy and one I’ve personally found to be helpful in the latter stages of training. Our dog, a Great Pyrenees and Australian Heeler mix is a contented dog. But when we took her out for her first hike, she came alive in an entirely different way. She displayed a level of sheer joy usually reserved for steak bones with meat still attached. Still, there are a few things to make sure of before simply heading out to hike with your dog. Our favorite dog expert, Dr. Eloise Bright from Love That Pet, offered a few tips for successful hiking with man’s best friend.


1. Consider the age of your dog. A young puppy is similar to a newborn baby. They can’t keep up the pace on the trail without needing frequent naps. A four or five month old pup will do fine for short hikes but for real backwoods hiking, your dog needs to be just beyond adolescence or older. We started hiking the two-mile Rainbow Mountain Trail with our pup Terry, when she was almost a year old. By the time she was a year and a half, we could easily hike the longer trails of Montesano Nature Preserve.

2. Training is important. Don’t attempt putting a leash and collar on a dog and hauling him out to the forest unless already trained. For the safety of everyone, including your dog, train him to follow your commands and walk with you, not tug you along while sniffing every inchworm, leaf and scat pile.

3. Have proper ID and tags. Attach the current rabies tag to your dog’s collar or have proof of shots in your backpack. Make sure your dog’s collar has name and phone number to reach you and your vet. If hiking with your dog is going to be a regular activity, consider getting your dog microchipped.


4. Know the rules and dangers of the area. Most hiking trails allow dogs but every now and then we’ve run across one that doesn’t. The Rainbow Mountain Trail in Madison, Alabama allows dogs but requires them to be leashed at all times. In fact, that will likely be the rule wherever you hike unless it’s private property. If the area you’re going to has ticks, snakes or poison ivy, you will need to closely watch your dog to make sure he doesn’t stray off the path.

5. Be a considerate trailblazer and scoop the poop. Yes, wild animals leave scat in the woods, so why should you pick up your dog’s poop? You should because it’s the polite thing to do and waste bags don’t cost much. Dogs love to roll in the poop piles of other dogs or deer or skunks. Apparently, the worse it smells, the more eager dogs are to roll in it. Ours simply could not understand why we were upset when she did exactly that one afternoon. As far as Terry was concerned, she was wearing an expensive perfume. We were choking to death and wishing for a pick up truck on the way home! It was us, not the dog, with our heads hanging out the window. By some miracle, nobody posted a video to YouTube.

6. Bring the right supplies. Whether you’re going out for two hours or two days, bring supplies for an emergency. That means extra water, food, sunblock and first aid kit. For your furry friend, a lightweight collapsible water bowl with food storage is recommended. We’ve found this type of bowl/food carrier to be handy and I love that it’s durable yet washable.


7. Bring treats as well as necessities. Even a well-trained dog can get excited about something and dash away before you know what’s happening. A special treat will often entice Fido back to your side. Terry ran after a bunny one morning and it wasn’t until I crinkled the wrapper of her favorite treat that she came back.

8. Take your time. Unless you want a sick dog, take your time on the trail and pay attention to signals that he needs to rest. Our dog, being part Great Pyrenees with an extra thick coat, needs more rest than one might think, especially in hot weather. Dogs are more susceptible to heat stroke than humans. Avoid walks in the heat of the day and know what to do should your pet overheat. The quickest way to cool him down is to wet him down and fan him.


9. Bring a camera. Our Terry seems to sense when somebody wants to take a photo and turns away or runs up to the lens as if trying to inspect it. Still, it’s worth the effort even if you get a bunch of nature photos featuring a fuzzy dog. It’s all part of the fun. Happy Trails!


About the Author:  Michelle Rise is a homemaker and Mother of 5 and travel enthusiast. With many years of experience trekking through Disney parks with her Family, Michelle has become an expert on navigating families through Disney. She also enjoys travel to most other destinations worldwide and when not writing about her experiences or teaching her children to drive, Michelle can be found chasing the family dog up rainbow mountain with her husband of over 25 years, Ben. You can follow Michelle on Twitter, @Rise7Up, for all of her latest writings.

Adam Nutting relishes being an avid backpacker, hiker, and all-around adventure junkie. While he currently spends his time hiking in the backcountry of southern Arizona, he grew up in Missouri, where he was naturally inclined to spend as much time as he could outdoors. Adam’s passion for the outdoors grew as he climbed the ranks of the Cub Scouts and the Boy Scouts, eventually attaining the rank of Eagle Scout.

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