How to Choose the Right Hike for your Dog

How to Choose the Right Hike for your Dog

Posted by Dogs That Hike on 29th September 2018

With the temperatures getting cooler, more people, and dogs, are getting out and hiking. If your dog is a newbie hiker, or hasn't hiked in awhile, you may find yourself questioning which hike you should choose for them. Here are a few of the things that we consider when planning a hike with our dog.

Know your dogs’ abilities

Not every dog is built
for the wild and that’s okay! It’s important that you are honest with yourself
about what they are able to do as it will set you both up for a successful day.
To better understand what they might be capable of think of what your regular
routine looks like and how that affects them. If you walk 2 miles a day and
they end up pretty wiped you’ll want to find a hike of a similar length.
Conversely, if you’re running 5 miles a day every day and/or involved in dog
sports, you’ll likely be able to take on something a little more challenging.

Do your research

Once you know what
type of hike would be best for your dog start doing your research. There are a
number of questions that you should answer before deciding if a hike is right
for your dog or not.

How long is the hike and what is the elevation profile? Check your local, state or national
parks websites to find out key details on the hike. Pick something that is
within your dogs’ abilities, taking on too challenging of a hike your first
time out isn’t going to be fun for either of you.

What types of terrain will you encounter? Familiarize yourself with the trail so
you know what you’re going to encounter and be prepared for it. Use an app like
AllTrails or a local hiking group to get feedback from people who have already
hiked the trail and find out what type of terrain or obstacles you may
encounter. For example, a rocky surface can cut up a dogs paws or hot rocks can
burn them – consider bringing along a pair of dog boots to protect their paws.

Will you be able to take rest breaks in the shade? Even in cooler temperatures direct
sunlight can be hot. Finding a trail with shaded areas for rest breaks gives
you both an opportunity to catch your breath, take a drink of water and maybe
even enjoy a little snack.

Is there an adequate water source? The easiest way to make sure your dog
stays hydrated is to hike near a water source. If you aren’t able to hike near
a water source make sure you pack enough water for both you and your dog.

What wildlife frequents the area? Wildlife encounters can be anything from
adorable to dangerous. Find out what wildlife frequents the area and
familiarize yourself with the dangers they could present. For example, a trail
that is frequented by elk may be okay in June but would be best to avoid during
rutting season.

Keep in mind that not
all trails are dog friendly and even ones that are may allow other users that
your dog might not be in to. Are they afraid of horses or bikes? What about
ATVs? Make sure you know what you might encounter on the trail.

Train, train, train

Being able to climb
mountains isn’t a skill dogs are born with. If you’re planning a hike with any
sort of elevation they are going to be engaging muscles that they may have
never used before. Start training by varying your regular walks to include more
distance, more elevation, and different types of terrain. The more things your
dog can get used to ahead of time the easier their hike will be.

Start small and have fun

Even the greatest
mountain dogs had to start somewhere. Pick something small and close to home so
that you can monitor and evaluate how your dog takes to hiking. If you both
aren’t enjoying the hike, call it a day and head home. At the end of the day,
the most important thing is that you and your dog have fun!

Dogs That Hike started in the Canadian Rockies as an Instagram
account that aimed to show the world the amazing adventures of our four-legged
friends. During their growth they loved seeing all of the places that their
community of outdoor enthusiasts went and the gear that they used. It inspired
them to create their site as a resource to those who are looking to get
outdoors with their dogs and are seeking information to help them on their
journey. Visit them at or check them out on
Instagram and Face
book @dogsthathike.

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