How to Take Your Dog Hiking
Are you looking to take your dog hiking with you? Not sure how to get started? Well the how to take your dog hiking guide will help you get started.
1. Find a dog friendly trail
Look for areas that are "easy on the paws," advises Best Hikes with Dogs Inland Northwest author Craig Romano. Pick shady trails with soft, leaf- or needle-covered terrain; avoid paths littered with sharp rocks, off-trail routes with steep drops, or any surface that gets very hot. "Stay away from areas with heavy horse use and mountain bikes," he adds. Search by state at hikewithyourdog.com.
Adjust the harness on your dog so it's snug but won't chafe (remove saddlebags first, if the pack allows). You should be able to fit two fingers under it. Load the bags with dog food, treats, water (some dog backpacks come with hydration bladders), bowls, and extra gear for you–this is the time for beer or another pillow! Make sure both sides are weighted equally; total load shouldn't exceed one-third of your dog's body weight.
3. Keep your pet healthy
Start with your regular brand and portion size, advises Michelle Richardson, vet at the Alpine Animal Clinic in Helena, Montana–increasing the amount by up to 50 percent based on his fitness, typical exercise, and the hike's difficulty. (Rule of thumb: one cup of food per 20 pounds of dog per day.) Give him a small serving about an hour before hiking for extra energy.
Use your own thirst as a guide and offer water when you stop to drink–every 15 to 30 minutes, depending on trail difficulty and temperature. And yes, dogs can get Giardia. In high-risk areas, ones with lots of cattle or campers, limit drinking from lakes and streams using a leash and voice commands. Make sure to keep a supply of treated water.
Build up to longer trips (with both adult dogs and puppies) with a series of shorter hikes to toughen paw pads and develop stamina. Richardson advises waiting until your puppy has received all his shots (about five months) before taking him on the trail, and keeping hikes shorter than one hour to start.
Pack bandages and an antiseptic (such as iodine) for wounds, a liquid bandage (such as 3M PET CARE LIQUID BANDAGE ) for split or cut paw pads, and tweezers for tick removal (make sure check your dog nightly).
Following these tips will get you and your dog on the right path to a great hiking trip.
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