There is nothing happier than hiking with our furry friends. Our dogs love the trails (despite their short, little legs) and, like a lot of people, we love adventuring with them. We've put together some tips for keeping you, your pups, and others safe and happy while on the trail!
-Know the Regulations: Are your dogs required to be on a leash? Are they not allowed in certain areas? Even if your dog behaves well off leash, if it is posted that dogs must be leashed, please be considerate of the rules. Just because your dog may OK without, that doesn't mean other dogs (or people or large wild animals) will react well to your free roaming dog. There may also be areas off the trail not suitable for pets and you can receive a fine if you are caught not obeying the leash laws. Generally those regulations are in place for a reason. The goal is to keep everyone safe and able to enjoy the trails.
-Be Aware of Wildlife in the Area: Are you in bear country? Is there a large population of raccoons around? Coyotes or mountain lions? This tip goes for keeping you safe, as well, but there is an added layer of concern when hiking with your pet. Know what type of wild animals you could encounter and how your dog will react. Be aware of your surroundings while hiking and have a plan in place if you do encounter a wild animal.
-Research the Terrain and Know Your Dog's Abilities: Take some time to learn your dog's abilities. Are they able to make 5 miles or do they seem to get tired after 1? Can they handle steep hills or rocky terrain? Try not to put your pet in any situation that is unsafe or uncomfortable for them. Start with some shorter, slower hikes to see how they do and familiarize yourself with signs of thirst, exhaustion and pain. One of our dogs will simply plop down and refuse to move when she is tired, but more likely, your dog will keep trekking and want to stay by your side even if they are exhausted. Keep a constant eye on them and adjust your route accordingly.
-Water and Snacks: If you are thirsty, so is your dog. If you need a snack after an hour of vigorous hiking, so does your dog. Make sure you pack enough food and water for both of you! Keep in mind their general comfort, as well. If it's winter, consider booties and jacket to protect them, or in summer, some extra water to splash on them to help cool down.
-Share the Trail: As always, be courteous of other hikers. Not everyone is comfortable around dogs, so don't allow them to just run up to everyone who passes. Ensure there is enough room for the other hiker to comfortably pass on the trail and clean up after them, as needed.
-Don't Lose Them: If you are able to let your pup explore off leash, you obviously don't want to run the risk of losing track of them in the woods. We highly recommend a bell attached to their collar or some sort of bright bandana or jacket. Not only does this help you in keeping track of them, the bell can help scare away other wildlife and the bright gear can help keep them safe during hunting season.
Most dogs absolutely love the outdoors and spending time with their humans. Big or small, they can make great little hiking companions. To show our furry friends some love, we will have Happy Pups Hike bandanas available soon!