Hiking with a dog can be one of the most rewarding experiences in life. Exploring nature with man's best friend can help you get in touch with yourself in a way that isn't possible in normal life. However, there are several recommendations an individual should follow when hiking with his or her dog. The following guide provides simple tips and tricks for hiking with a dog.
When hiking with a dog, it's important to make sure you're hiking an appropriate distance based on the breed. For example, some short legged dogs may have trouble with longer hikes. Dogs like a basset hound or Yorkshire terrier are probably not going to enjoy a 10 mile trek through the woods. On the other hand, a sheepdog may enjoy longer hikes without issue. Make sure to read up on your breed to ensure you're providing the right amount of exercise for your best friend.
It's also important to keep a dog leashed at all times. While it can be tempting to let a dog off its leash when you're in the woods, you can never tell when a dog will end up chasing a deer or other wildlife. Some breeds of hounds are very problematic when it comes to chasing a scent. Every year, tens of thousands of dogs across the United States are lost after their owners let them go off leash. Don't take this risk with your own dog. If your dog responds well to food it might be a good idea to bring some of your dogs favorite treats to ensure he will come back to you!
In addition, it's important to make sure that your dog doesn't overheat when going on a long hike. Dogs don't have the ability to sweat like humans. Because of this, their bodies are prone to overheat more than a person. While you may find a hot day uncomfortable, the same weather that you find uncomfortable could be deadly to your dog.
As a rule of thumb, it's a good idea to avoid hiking with your dog if the average daily temperature is above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures warmer than this can be a significant health hazard to many dogs. It's also important to make sure that your dog's paws are protected on hot days. If you're walking on cement or asphalt on a hot day, try placing your own hand on the ground to see how hot it is. If the surface is uncomfortable to your bare hand, it's also going to be uncomfortable for your dog's paws.
Cold weather is usually not as much of an issue when it comes to dog. However, it's important to remember that smaller dogs can't hold their heat as effectively as larger dogs. Since smaller dogs have a higher ratio of skin to body mass, their bodies can lose heat much faster than a big dog. Because of this, it's a good idea to avoid taking smaller dogs for a hike when the weather is freezing.
Also, it's essential to make sure that your dog has access to water on a regular basis when hiking. Since dogs help regulate their heat by panting, they can lose significant amounts of water in their body when engaging in vigorous exercise. Before going on a hike, use a topo map to determine if there are a lot of springs or creeks that can be used to hydrate your dog. If not, it's important to make sure you bring a collapsible water bowl that can be used for hydrating your best friend.
Finally, it's important to make sure that you're hiking an appropriate amount based on the age of your dog. As a rule of thumb, it's a bad idea to take dogs that are less than a year old on extended hikes. Since young dogs don't have a developed skeletal system, they are prone to injuries. Also, dogs that are more than 10 years old may experience arthritis when hiking. Always pay attention to your dog when hiking. If they display any signs of discomfort or start to limp, it's time to call it a day.