Prepare Your Dog For Hiking Guest Post by Lazhar Ichir
week-long escapade in the wild with your dog requires common sense. So does a simple overnight trip in a near
Indeed, when away
from home for more than a daily walk, the dog owner is the dog’s guardian. In
other words, you must be prepared for all situations that are likely to happen, especially
accidents and emergencies.
There are several ways to tackle these potential problems: prepare your dog for hiking, pick the right hiking trails, choose the right hiking gears, and be prepared in case problems do happen.
Let’s see what are our 6 tips to prepare your dog for hiking (or camping!)
When going into the wild for a whole day or an entire weekend, one would expect a lot of walking. More than that, walking on a pavement has nothing to do with walking on an uphill path in the woods.
Your days will be more strenuous for both the dog and yourself, but also healthy for both your bodies and your nervous systems. Therefore, before even considering to leave your home, train for a few sessions.
Don’t worry, we are not talking about hitting the gym just to prepare for a day out with the dog, but instead, do your daily walks with a heavy backpack and walk twice as fast. Same for your dog, make him run more than usual on different surfaces.
You can prepare your dog for hiking simply by picking up the pace just a little.
Whenever we think about adventure, we think of backpacks. The mother of all gears when going out and you should absolutely pick the best one for you but way, more importantly, you must choose a quality dog backpack for your companion.
What’s a good backpack for a dog, you ask?
The problems start once the backpack is purchased. Yes, you read me right.
More than your dog’s backpack, the distribution of weight when your dog wears its pack is crucial. It is your duty to put the same amount of weight on both sides, so your dog’s body doesn’t end up injured.
It’s not rocket science, but it simply requires your attention especially when you start loading and unloading items throughout your adventure. Always keep the balance on the top of your mind!
When hiking for more than a single day with your dog, you want to have
enough to fuel your adventures and have as little as possible to remain light
and mobile. The best solution for your dog is to bring healthy high-calorie
treats and foods along.
If you are a good cook, you can prepare these yourself using bananas, peanut butter, beef, and any wholesome quality ingredients. If you prefer to buy things ready, prefer the working dog's section over the low-fat one.
Make sure everything you bring is loved by your dog, though. You don’t want to end up with a grumpy pet not wanting to eat after 36 hours in the woods.
By walking intensively on various surfaces your dog is not used to, you expose his or her paws and pads to cuts, scratches, and irritations. It is the most common reason to coming back home earlier than expected.
Two solutions here.
First, you can use dog boots or dog socks, but these are not comfortable for dogs and do well for short durations. Dogs like to feel the surface and boots or socks will cancel that. These would be great if you go through mud or ice-cold water for example.
Second, and much better option, is to use a protective wax to create a
barrier between the ground and the pads.
Musher's Secret is by far the most popular choice in that category, and they are used for dogs going into extreme conditions. So the forest hiking should be easily handled.
Tweezers, dressings, bandages, scissors, cotton wool, thermometer,
disinfectants and painkillers. And this is just a very short list of what you
must bring with you on the road.
Emergencies don’t call you, they just happen when you least expect them. Most of the time, it’s a splinter in a pad or a little cut because of a branch. Regardless, you must have a complete dog first aid kit to be prepared to care for and look after your dog as soon as you detect an anomaly.
Don’t freak out, though, dogs are descending from the wolf who lives in the woods, so they are somewhat built to thrive such an environment. But, better be safe than sorry, right?
Final tip and perhaps the most underrated one: thoroughly prepare your trip. Not just the itinerary, not just the food and water, but all the other little things we too often forget:
All of this won’t add much weight in your own backpack, yet they can save you some trouble if problems occur.
Ask yourself how many breaks your dog should take and try to set a countdown alarm never to miss one. See if you could stop by a pond for a break, so your dog can relax and cool itself if it’s a hot day. You get the gist!
If I painted a dark picture of hiking with a dog here, it is to draw the attention to the importance of being ready. Nine times out of ten, dog owners enjoy a several-day-long hike with their dogs with not a single issue.
A lot of people think buying the best gear will save them for all sorts of problems, but I don’t believe so. Common sense first, good gear second.
No need to use one without the other, that’s for sure!