Hiking with your dog is a natural and enjoyable way for people and dogs to stay fit and provides time for quality bonding between you and your dog.
Before heading off for a hiking trail, of course do your research first make sure that dogs are allowed.
Prepare before hiking with your dog
If you are just starting out, ease yourself and your dog into it by choosing walks that suit your and your dog’s fitness and endurance levels.
Make sure your dog is up to date with vaccinations, flea, tick and worming treatments.
Be sure to let someone know as to where you are going and what time you expect to be back in case of emergencies.
What to take when hiking with your dog
Be prepared to carry gear for hot, cold and wet weather – especially if you are in Victoria!
Even on short hikes you’ll need a backpack, water and snacks or food for you both, a map, a first aid kit with some extras in it for your pooch.
Most hiking trails will require you to keep your dog on the leash, which is recommended regardless to keep them away from hazards.
Keeping them safe
Watch your dog for signs of stress or exhaustion, especially if your dog is not used to it. Take lots of breaks and provide plenty of water. If it’s warm, avoid taking them out in the middle of the day to prevent heatstroke.
Cut paw pads can be a common injury while hiking so be sure to stop to check your dog’s paws for cuts or peeling along the way.
After the hike, make sure you check your dog’s body for ticks, burrs or any other debris they may have picked up on the trail.
Especially in the case of ticks, a thorough check is important and should be completed as soon as possible post hike, particularly in tick prone regions, grassy or bush areas. If you find one and aren’t sure how to remove it properly, take them immediately to the vet to remove, as the paralysis tick can be deadly.
Remember a tired and happy dog is a well-behaved dog so hiking with your dog is a great way to help keep behaviour issues at bay.
About the Author: Lara Shannon is a NDTF certified dog behaviourist and trainer, Executive Producer and Host of Pooches at Play on Channel 10 and editor of Poochesatplay.com. Lara also runs her own dog training and boarding business in Melbourne’s Bayside area and is the Author of Eat, Play, Love Your Dog.