By: Mikayla Koeltzow
Do you remember a time in your life when everything around you was all new and exciting? Most of us probably look back fondly on those times, and if you're lucky, life still looks like that to you, even if just at times. Now think about this, that is surely what the world outside of our homes and yards looks like to our dogs! So many new places and things to see, curious new scents to sniff. One of our favorite ways to let our dogs get out and explore a whole new scene, is to bring them along on hikes! Whether this is your first time bringing a pup along, or you’re just looking for ways to improve the experience, keep reading for some useful tips for hiking with a dog.
Finding your Perfect Hike
- Are dogs allowed? Trust us when we say, the last thing you want is to show up ready to hike only to see a “no dogs” sign posted up at the trailhead. Speaking from... multiple experiences, it’s best to check before you go!
- Leashing requirements? Many trails require leashes to ensure that everyone can hike the area comfortably and safely, and also to keep dogs on the designated trail at all times so that the surrounding habitat is not walked on. If you’re wanting to have your dog hike off-leash and can’t find one in your usual areas, try looking for hikes in BLM land where requirements aren’t so standard.
- How long of a hike? You can choose the length of the hike based on both yours and your dog’s activity preferences. And of course, if it’s too long of a hike for you or your dog, you can always just turn around or take lots of sniff breaks.
- Dog waste bags. Just like in everyday life, always be sure to pick up any dog waste whether it is immediately on the trail or not.
- Leash rules or not, it’s always best to have a leash with you in case you run into another dog that isn’t friendly, or see or hear of any wild animals you are worried about your dog running up to. If your dog loves to roam but needs to be kept on leash, an extra-long leash is a fantastic way for them to gain some freedom in exploration.
- If your dog will be on the leash for a long time and pulls at all, a harness is great to relieve the pressure on their neck for a more comfortable hike!
- Dogs drink a lot of water during any activity including hikes, so make sure to bring as much along for them as you can and possibly a container for them to drink out of. Hikes with natural water sources are also fantastic!
- Essential? Maybe not, but your dog will burn a ton of energy during that hike and will appreciate the treats now more than ever (if that’s even possible). Hiking can also be a great time to work on training whether that is socializing with people, other dogs, pulling at the leash, recall when off-leash, or anything else.
- Your dog. The only true essential on this list!
Now that you’re ready to hit the trail, go ahead and have an absolute blast watching your dog live a day out of their dreams. Maybe they can help remind us of one of the simple and most beautiful ways to look at this world, with nothing much other than curiosity and excitement. Happy hiking.
About the Author: Mikayla Koeltzow
Mikayla is always looking to see new places and experience new things in order to slow life down and create unique memories. Photography and writing are her absolute favorite ways to document these moments. When not working or relaxing with her dog, you’ll most often find her (and her dog) hiking, backpacking, camping, road tripping, or hanging out with friends and family.