Guest Blog: Tips For Hiking With Dogs

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This month I have a guest blog by Abi Pennavaria of Saved by the Bark blog:

Hiking With Your Trail Hound: Lessons And Tips For Hikers With Dogs

Hiking is an activity that both you and your dog can enjoy together; both of you get much-needed time outdoors in the San Francisco sunshine while spending quality time in one another’s company. From Fort Funston to Corona Heights Park, hiking with dogs is much different than hiking alone or with other people; special care needs to be taken to ensure that your dog doesn’t get injured, overheated or otherwise put in danger, even when just taking trails through city parks. 

Pack Adequate Supplies

Taking your dog hiking with you involves supplies that will keep your dog safe and happy. Depending on the terrain and duration of your hike, consider taking along the following supplies:

  • Collapsible water bowl - Even in cooler weather, your dog can get dehydrated easily. Carry along a collapsible water bowl and offer your dog water throughout your hike. 

  • Life jacket - If your hike involves water crossings or chances for your dog to cool off in bodies of water, you may want to consider bringing a life jacket. This is especially important for smaller dog breeds that may not be able to handle even slight currents or puppies or aging dogs who may not have the strength to get out of sloped areas easily.

  • Identification - if the worst happens and your dog gets away from you, make sure that your dog has proper identification. Dog tags and a microchip can help you reunite with your dog if he gets lost.

Pay Attention to Leash Laws

Familiarize yourself with leash laws when taking your dog hiking. While some areas allow taking your dog off leash and letting him run, many public spaces require that your dog be on a leash at all times. Paying attention to leash laws protects hikers and their companions from dogs who may be aggressive, unsocialized, or uncontrollable.

Practice Trail Etiquette

Many people use our trails and parks. Practicing proper trail etiquette keeps public spaces a positive place for everyone. 

  • Etiquette with Other Hikers - training your dog not to jump on strangers is both polite and keeps your dog (and others) safe. If you are approaching a group of other hikers, leash your dog or ensure that he’s under voice control. 

  • Etiquette with Other Animals - it’s not uncommon to see other dogs or horses on the trails. Get your dogs accustomed to horses so that they will not bark or approach horses and spook them. If you know that your dog is dog aggressive, keep your dog on leash if you are hiking in a place where other dogs frequent.

  • Responsible Waste Disposal - proper disposal of your dog’s waste is part of trail etiquette. Bring dog poop bags with you to ensure you are able to clean up after your dog if he needs to relieve himself when you’re on the trail.

Pack a First-Aid Kit

A first-aid kit is imperative when taking your dog hiking. Even the most athletic, experienced four-legged hikers can become injured on the trail. Pack gauze, medical tape, bandages, antiseptic and antihistamines as a basic dog first-aid kit, as well as any medications he may take throughout the day, like insulin. It is a good idea to also carry a thermometer, in case you suspect your dog may be at risk for heatstroke. 

Hiking with your dog is good for the both of you; your dog gets the exercise and mental stimulation he needs to keep him happy, while you get to explore your city with your most loyal companion. Taking proper precautions to keep your dog is safe during your hike will ensure many years of hiking to come!

Abi Pennavaria is a dog mom, avid volunteer veterinarian, and co-author of Saved By The Bark blog. She enjoys sharing tips and tricks for dog owners of all breeds.

Pipi Diamond