Taking the leap from casual dog walks in the park to full blown hikes in the backcountry shouldn’t be taken lightly. Your bounding hound may think they are ready, but there are lots of things to consider before you head out peak bagging with your pup.
Photo credit: www.coolofthewild.com
To make sure both you and your canine companion have the best time ever out on the trail, take a read of our top tips on hiking with your hound.
- Don’t start too soon
Most dogs stop growing at around a year old. Before this point their joints and muscles will be put under too much pressure to be able to deal with walks that are too lengthy or strenuous. The point at which your dog is ready to start training for longer hikes will vary from the next dog. So before you get Fido signed up to doggie boot camp, check with your vet first.
- Build up the distance
Once you’ve got the all clear from your vet that your pup has stopped growing, you can start lengthening your walks. Start with short hikes on moderate terrain and build up to longer distances on steep terrain.
- Nail your call back
If you intend taking your dog out into the backcountry it’s absolutely essential that your dog comes back when you call — every single time. If your dog’s call back isn’t consistent then you’ll need to do some training until you nail it. Otherwise, a leash should be used at all times.
- Do your homework
One should never assume that just because a trail is open to humans, dogs are also welcome. Many trails are restricted to dogs due to seasonal wildlife conservation. Others don’t want dogs coming into contact with dangerous wildlife for the protection of your dogs as well as the wildlife. Do some research before you head out hiking with your hound.
- ALWAYS have a leash
Although it may be tempting to let your dog run wild and enjoy the freedom of unlimited space to roam, it is your responsibility to always be in control of your dog. Unfortunately, that may mean that you have to keep your trusty hound on a leash at all times. This is especially important on trails where there are lots of other users — not all humans take to dogs as much as us animal lovers! Before heading out on long hikes, get your dog well used to being on a leash. That way it will be no problem at all if you end up having to hike for miles attached to each other by a rope!
- Bring plenty of water and yummy nibbles
You wouldn’t dream of doing a full day of hiking without food and water, so be sure that you pack enough supplies for your pup too. There may be areas in which the natural water isn’t safe for your dog to drink, so either bring a water filter to clean it up first, or carry fresh water with you. A little research on how much water is available on the trail, and the quality, will go a long way.
About Joey Holmes
Joey is based in Cornwall, UK, and runs Cool of the Wild. She can’t get enough of being outdoors – whether that’s lounging around the campfire cooking up a feast, hitting the trail in her running shoes, or attempting to conquer the waves on her surfboard – she lives for it. Camping is what she loves to do the most, but has also spent many, many hours clinging to the side of a rock face, cycling about the place, cruising the ski-slopes on her snowboard, and hiking small mountains and big hills.