Where to Hike?
Before you go for a walk or hike, you first must determine where to go. You and your dog will benefit most if you change scenery and terrain often. Parks, bicycle paths, and hiking trails are all good options. Before you go, make sure you know the rules for bringing your pet. Some areas strictly require dogs to be leashed, while others allow well-behaved pets to be off-leash.
Regardless of whether your dog will be on or off-leash, your pet should have a microchip and identification tags in case you become separated. If you plan to keep your dog on-leash, a well-fitting harness is safer for your pet than a collar, which can cause choking and tracheal collapse from too much pulling. You can get the most out of your hike by giving your dog an extra job to do. Have your dog wear a doggy-backpack for carrying gear such as a trail map, snacks, an extra leash, poop bags, and water bottles for both you and your pet.
Avoid the urge to hike too much, too soon. You should ease into exercise by starting with a short, easy trail. Over time you can gradually increase length and difficulty of your walks. If you are hiking primarily on concrete or asphalt, be conscious of the temperature of the surface. For rocky terrain, consider purchasing canine hiking boots.
If your dog is going to hike off-leash, make sure you have verified that your pet has a rock solid recall. Proof your dog’s skills by going to an off-leash dog park and practicing recall in a distracted setting.
If your dog will be on-leash during hikes and walks, practice loose-leash walking and the heel command. An excitable dog can be dangerous if a squirrel appears when you are walking over difficult terrain.
After any hike in the woods, check your dog for ticks and other bugs. Run your fingers through your pet’s fur, feeling for any hard bumps. Use a flea and tick preventative and have your dog tested yearly for tick borne illness.
Regardless of the weather conditions, take breaks as needed and always encourage your dog to drink plenty of water!
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Please note: all dogs should be treated as individuals. The Actijoy blog is for educational and entertainment purposes only. In case of emergency, always seek qualified healthcare from a local veterinarian or emergency facility. Actijoy blogs are not designed to treat, diagnose, or prescribe medication for your pet.