Hiking with your Dog
By Kathryn Howell - Dog Paddling Adventures
Hiking with your dog is a wonderful way to take your dog on the "walk" of their life. It is a terrific way to bond with your best friend and give him a chance to get some great exercise while enjoying the beauty of the great outdoors. Visiting new locations also helps to relieve boredom which may set in for a dog that has a usual routine walk each day.
CAN ALL DOGS HIKE?
All dogs enjoy the new scents and sights of the trail, but some dogs are better suited to hiking than others. If you don't as yet have a hiking companion, select a breed that matches your interests. If you enjoy a long day of hiking its important to know that your K9 friend is able to keep up with you. Some dogs, such as border collies, can hike for an entire day and still want more. On the other hand, a bulldog will need lots of breaks throughout the day, and will likely be quite happy with a much shorter walk. However, all dogs totally love the experience, and being aware of your dog's limitations (and your own!) will make your return trip that much more enjoyable.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR A HIKE
There are a few simple common sense things to remember before heading out on an afternoon or a day hike with your pup. A full water bottle for you both (at least a litre or more to share), a blanket and towel for your car's protection against muddy paws, a leash, and some dog treats to help you with your recall from time to time on the trail to remind Fido that he still has to obey the rules. As well, knowing the weather and preparing accordingly with items such as sunscreen and a hat, or a toque and gloves. Remember, the weather at the hiking location may not be the same as it was at your house... if you're unsure of an item, bring it and leave it in your car if you don't need it once you arrive.
Hot humid summers do not do dogs any favors. With no sweat glands and only panting available to disperse body heat, dogs are much more susceptible to heat stroke than we are. Unusually rapid panting and/or a bright red tongue are signs of heat exhaustion in your pet. Always carry enough water for your hike. Even days that don't seem too warm can cause discomfort in dark-coated dogs if the sun is shining brightly. In cold weather, short-coated breeds may require additional attention. The best time of year to hike is the spring and the fall.
THINGS TO BE AWARE OF ON TRAIL
Dogs won't get poison ivy, but the oils from this little three leaved rash machine can get on a dog's fur, and when she comes running for some pets, you can easily get a rash from their fur. Also, some trail users may not be as responsible as we would hope, and broken bottles and sharp cans can sometimes be found along the trail. Most dogs don't wear hiking boots, and a torn paw pad can put a painful end tour enjoyment.
TRUSTING YOUR DOG
The beauty of taking your dog into a forest for a hike is not having to worry about the road and dangers of cars. This is the perfect time to try walking off leash with your dog. Start by taking his leash off and allowing him to sniff and explore with you thru the trail. With lots of treats in hand use your recall tactics to occasionally call him back so he knows that he must keep you within paws reach. The more you trust your dog to enjoy his off leash time, the more he will reward you with great behaviour. If you see any animals or people walking by simply put the leash back until you have passed by. Trusting your dog off leash can be scary at first, but if you try it a little bit each time, you will develop a new and wonderful trust and bond with your dog that you never dreamed possible.
To learn more about our hiking adventures please visit our website at www.dogpaddlingadventures.com our hikes run each weekend throughout the spring and fall months.