How To: Hiking With Dogs

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Exploring the wilderness with a furry friend can be a fun experience! But it can also turn sideways quickly for our fluffy companions.

Preparing for your hike will help prevent any hiccups and ensure everyone’s safety. Your adventure bestie will definitely appreciate it!

Prep work . Animal etiquette . Safety . Packing + Products that help .


Preparing your pup for the hike

Most of us dread leaving our babes at home when we hit the nature road, but it’s important to consider whether he or she can actually complete the hike. Since your dog will do their best to keep up with you, they run the chance of risking their own safety. It’s 100% up to you to know their limits.

  • Age: Puppies and elderly dogs are not the best choices for a hiking companion. They may not have enough stamina and will tire easily.

  • Breed: Brachycephalic breeds (short-muzzled dogs) — like pugs, boxers and Boston terriers— do not do well in heat and are not known for their endurance.

  • Behavior: In order to keep you both safe, your dog should be able to follow your commands out in the wild.

  • Vaccinations: Make sure your dog is up to date on their vaccinations and is regularly treated for fleas and ticks!

  • Practice: Ease your dog into longer walks around the neighborhood to build stamina before embarking on the trails.

San Pedro hike in Southern California is FULL of pup hiking partners.

San Pedro hike in Southern California is FULL of pup hiking partners.

Pick a dog-friendly trail

Before making the drive, make sure your trail is dog-friendly. Some trails don’t allow dogs at all, like most National Parks, nature preserves or estuaries - and some coastlines. And trails that DO allow dogs usually require leashes. Do your research and make sure your furry friend will be welcome!

Hiking Etiquette

You share the trail with more than nature and wildlife. It’s important to make everyone you come in contact with is comfortable around your pal. NOT EVERYONE IS A DOG LOVER - and that is okay! 

Following these etiquette tips will create a safe environment for everyone:

  • Keep your dog under control at all times by ensuring you can always see and hear them. Your dog should not be off the leash - just don’t be that dude! They might jump on other campers or run after wildlife and that is a no-go in respecting nature.

  • Yield to other hikers and riders who pass by you on the trail.

  • Communicate with other people you come across on the trail. Let them know your dog is friendly and won’t bite.

  • Leave no trace! Picking up after your dog is a necessity. If you don’t want to use dog bags and prefer to bury the poop, practice the leave no trace method of getting rid of waste.

Keeping your dog safe 

Dogs are susceptible to many of the same dangers as humans. But they won’t be able to recognize these problems themselves or communicate to you that something is wrong.

Pro-Tip:

“If you're hiking with your pet for the first time, make sure to take things slowly. That means stopping for rest breaks often and allowing your dog to drink plenty of water. Which leads me to the next point — always bring enough bottled water. Dogs tend to overheat faster than we do and they must stay hydrated at all times. Besides, you should never let your dog drink from an unknown source of water.” Lir Buk from Puppy Tip

It’s also important to be aware of common trail dangers:

  • Overdoing it: Dogs will push themselves to keep up with you. Pay attention to how long it takes for your dog’s breathing to normalize. If it begins to take too long, stop more often. If your dog starts limping, it’s time to stop for the day.

  • Wildlife: Keeping your dog on a leash is the best defense against wildlife. And always check for any ticks after hikes!

  • Wild plants: Don’t allow your dog to eat any plants. Avoid areas with poison oak, ivy, nettles, and foxtails which will cause serious discomfort for your pal. Remove foxtails right away as they can make their way inside vital organs.

  • Heatstroke: Dogs cool down by panting and sweating through their pad pads. Rest in shady spots and give your dog plenty of water. As tempting as it may be, consider leaving your pup at home on those summer hikes, heat exhaustion comes on fast and can be dangerous.

  • Water safety: Keep your dog out of the water if they can’t swim. Even the best swimmers should be carried across rushing river water.


Packing + Products

Aside from your own day hiking essentials, you need to pack for your furry friend too! Whether you’re going on a day hike or overnight trip, after a day full of exercise your pup is gonna need some things:

  • Food

  • Water + collapsible bowl

  • Heatstroke prevention

  • Bio-degradable poop bags

  • Short leashes

  • Doggy (+human) first aid kit: pack a kit with gauze, bandages, tweezers for ticks or thorns, a liquid bandage for paw cuts, Benadryl in case of a snake bite, and antibiotic ointment.


Helpful products we love!

Food

Nulo Lamb & Chickpeas Dog Food

Bring the regular amount you feed your dog plus an additional cup for every 20lbs of weight. Whether it's an afternoon at the beach or a day long hike, our four-legged friends need quality protein and nutrition to keep up with us.


WATER

PawThread Portable Pet Water Bottle

It’s never a good idea to let your dog drink from a stream or puddle. Bring clean water for your pup, they’ll need more than usual! Pull double duty with this portable pet water bottle.


Collapsable bowls

Ruffwear TRAIL RUNNER™ BOWL

If you’re thirsty, chances are your dog is too. Collapsable bowls provide a great way for your dog to eat and drink while on the go.


Heatstroke

All for Paws Cooling Bandana

Dogs don’t sweat as we do. To keep your pup from overheating, bring along some ice packs or a bandana to keep wet and around their neck.


If you or your hiking partner feels ill, immediately find shade and try to cool down ASAP. And remember, if someone is showing any sign of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, call 911. 

Now that you know what it takes to provide a fun and safe adventure for your pup pal!