There’s nothing like a nice, long hike with your dog. Cooler fall days make for perfect hiking weather, meaning there is no better time than now to take to the trails. There are, however, some precautions that you should take in order to make sure you and your pup are safe. Here are some essential tips that you should follow whenever you bring your pooch hiking or on a long outdoor adventure.
Make sure that your dog is wearing an ID tag: If your pooch runs off, proper contact information is crucial. All ID tags should list the following things:
- Pets name
- Your cell phone number
- Additional contact number
- Hometown: This way, if your dog is lost, anyone who finds them will know how far your dog is from home.
- Medical issues and/or medicines: If they are lost and no one can contact you, this is vital information for whoever found them to know.
Make sure your dog is in good physical condition, and respect your dog’s limits: Start small and work up to bigger hikes..
Find a good, dog friendly trail: Some hiking trails aren’t dog friendly, including a good amount of trails in National Parks, so do your research before you go.
Hike during the cool parts of the day: Morning and late afternoon or evening are the coolest times of day. Your best bet is to get on the trail as early as possible so you aren’t walking during the midday heat.
Pack plenty of water: Dogs don’t sweat, so they will need water to keep them hydrated throughout your hike. Stop frequently to give your dog water breaks and remember not to let your dog drink from ponds, lakes, streams or any natural bodies of water you may come across. These are breeding grounds for bacteria that could make your dog sick.
Bring a properly packed hiking kit: It’s always good to carry items that your dog may need while on a hike, including:
- Treats: Always have rewards for your dog easily accessible. Whether you’re passing an aggressive dog, a person who doesn’t like dogs or another animal or stimuli in the woods, treats are an easy way to get your dog’s attention and distract them.
- Water: So important, it’s worth mentioning twice! Make sure your pooch stays hydrated throughout the hike.
- First Aid Kit: First aid kits aren't only for humans! Trails are full of sharp rocks and sticks that your dog may not be used to walking on. A kit will help provide temporary care in case of emergency.
- Air Horn: Should you get injured or need assistance on your hike, an air horn is always good to have on hand to get the attention of nearby hikers or rescue teams. There is also research that shows air horns may ward off curious bears, so especially for hiking in New Jersey, which has a high black bear population, carrying an airhorn is always a safe bet.
- Cell Phone: Your phone is essential on a hike not only for safety, but for a lot of great apps with the ability to show you trail maps and track your hike.
Ask permission before letting your dog approach anyone, humans or dogs: Not all people or dogs are friendly, so it is always better to be safe than sorry. Even if your dog loves everyone, it doesn’t mean that everyone will love your dog.
Make sure your dog isn’t eating plants along the trail: Keep an eye on your dog at all times! There are plants in the area that can be poisonous to pets if ingested. To prevent any issues, it’s best if your dog doesn’t eat anything found in the woods on your hike.
Prepare yourself for ticks and fleas, and check your dog after your walk: Make sure you thoroughly check your dog after every walk in order to make sure they are free of tick and fleas. If you do find them make sure you treat the problem right away.
Pick up after your dog! Just because you are in the woods doesn’t mean you don’t have to clean up after your dog. If your dog eliminates, pick it up. Leave a clean environment for future hikers and their pets; many dog diseases are spread through feces, so it’s best not to leave anything behind.
Following these simple tips can mean a safe fun hike for both you and your pooch. Remember to use your best judgment on the trail and to always pay close attention to what your dog is trying to tell you. Safe hiking!