Dog Friendly Trails
There are many trails that allow dogs. If you do not know whether the trail you want to hike allows dogs, check online or call the park. Trails that do not allow dogs are usually posted at the trail entrance. If there is no way to contact someone who knows whether the trail allows dogs, you may need to stop by the trail first, without your dog, and read the postings at the entrance. Also, take note as to whether or not you see other people hiking with their dogs.
Avoid taking your dog to any trail that does not allow dogs. Be aware that some people deliberately go to trails that do not allow dogs because they are allergic to or fear dogs. Those people have every right to hike and enjoy a trail, just as you have the right to take your dog to a dog friendly trail and enjoy your hike with your fur partner.
Leash Your Dog
The number one rule when hiking trails with your dog is to keep it on a leash. Dogs generally love to be outdoors and getting exercise, but they also need to be kept safe. Keeping your dog on a leash will keep your fur companion safe from chasing wildlife, such as bears, and from getting injured on the trail.
The leash used for hikes should be sturdy. A leather, one inch wide leash is probably one of the best types of leashes you can get for your outdoor adventures with your pet. The leash should be about 8 feet long, allowing your dog some room to sniff around, but not enough length for him to get himself into trouble. Leash length is also important because it should allow you to be able to secure it to a tree in case of an emergency and when you need your dog to stay in one place.
Leashing your dog is also important if there are other people on the trail. Small children, for example, can become frightened by a large dog walking towards them. Adults will complain to the park manager if a dog is running amok. Also, keeping your dog on a leash will allow you to make sure he doesn't eat anything along the trail that may cause him stomach problems.
Just as you need water while hiking, so does your dog. Allowing your dog to drink from streams and lakes without first purifying the water may cause diarrhea and stomach problems. Bring drinking water for your dog. How much water you bring along for your dog depends on the size of your dog, the temperature outside, and how long you will be hiking. For example, if you are only going for a short, one mile hike with a small to medium sized dog, you will probably only need to bring one extra water bottle in your backpack. A longer hike will require more water. If you plan on hiking all day, consider getting water purification tablets.
Let your dog have a drink whenever you feel the need to drink water. If it is a hot summer day, you may want to give your dog some water every fifteen minutes.
Dog Packs and Food
If you and your dog are hiking a small trail, you may want to bring along a few biscuits for your dog. If you will have him out walking for longer than an hour, bring along some dog food.
Since you will already be carrying heavy items in your backpack, consider getting your dog a backpack of his own. You can train your dog to carry a few of his own items, such as his food. You will also want to place a small pocket knife and tweezers in his pack in case he gets something in his paw or a tick needs to be removed.
Be In Charge
Dogs are pack animals. In order to be a good dog owner, you must take charge and be the leader. Dogs are wonderful companions to take on hikes, but it is your responsibility to make sure your dog behaves himself. You need to:
- Train your dog not to bark at everything.
- Prevent your dog from leaving your side if you decide not to leash your dog.
- Prevent your dog from chasing wildlife and people.
- Clean up after your dog.