Ready to hit the trail with your four-legged BFF? Here are some tips for dog owners to make sure that any hiking trip (big or small) goes smoothly for both of you.
1. Dog Hiking Gear
Consider getting a doggie backpack so your dog can carry his own supplies. A good rule of thumb is 1 pack pound per 20 pounds of your dog’s weight. You might also consider getting booties for dogs who are not used to trail hiking and may get sore feet. Practice at home before heading out. Also remember that dogs sweat through their paw pads, so take the booties off when taking a break.
2. Essential Supplies
Bring enough water for you and your dog. A collapsible nylon bowl or lightweight metal or plastic bowl is also important. Your dog will burn extra calories on a hike, so bring treats for a short hike and food and treats for a longer one. Don’t forget the poop baggies…be considerate of other hikers and pick up your dog’s waste.
3. Safety First
Pack a small doggie first aid kit so you can treat injuries and bee stings. Experts recommend including styptic swabs, bandages and gauze, saline, pliers, Benadryl, alcohol and antibiotic wipes, and a pair of rubber gloves. Use the Benadryl only if your dog has an allergic reaction to an insect sting or bite. Dosage for dogs is .9 - 1.8 milligrams per pound of body weight.
4. Choose the Right Leash
You may want to hike with your dog off-leash, but there will be times during the hike when your dog needs to be leashed. Use a standard 6 foot leash. Retractable leashes are less sturdy and can strain your arms. You can attach the leash through your belt to be hands-free. Some hikers prefer a length of climbing rope attached to the dog’s collar or harness and your belt with carabiners.
5. ID, Please
An up-to-date and readable ID tag on your dog’s collar is essential in case you get separated and she gets lost. You might also consider microchipping your dog if you haven’t already. Carry a picture of your dog with you in case she gets lost so you can show it to other hikers and locals who live in the area.
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