This spring, what better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than hiking with your best friend? Most healthy dogs like to be out and about, whether it’s walking at your side or carried in your arms. The American Hiking Society has a handy list of places to hike, listed by state:
https://americanhiking.org/miscellaneous/places-to-hike-with-a-dog/ Another site that lists places to hike, too, is https://hikewithyourdog.com/
Make your day as enjoyable as possible by doing some research in advance to find the most appropriate trail for your dog and your needs. A simple Google search will reveal multiple websites with a wealth of useful information.
However, before you strap on your hiking boots, there are many things to take into consideration, especially if Muffy isn’t going to be carried. The most important thing is to ensure that she is young enough and healthy enough to hike, plus fit enough to go the distance you’re planning on going. Adapt to your dog’s fitness level. If you have to keep your hikes short at first, do it and work your way up to longer or more challenging walks. If Muffy is a couch potato, don’t expect her first hike to be four hours uphill. Check the weather. Snowy or icy trails can injure your dog’s paws. Hot days can cause heat stroke. Different breeds have different levels of temperature tolerance, watch your dog for any signs of injury or distress. Have plenty of water for her, especially if the temperature is forecast to be elevated.
In order for everyone involved to enjoy a beautiful day out on the trails, it is imperative that Muffy have some basic manners. It’s best not to use a retractable lead on a trail. You don’t want your dog to get in anyone’s way or to trip someone. She needs to know how to walk on a leash near you without lunging at every passerby, canine or human. Barking or threatening other dogs in any way should not be tolerated, either. You want to enjoy your time together, not spend the day worrying about dog fights. A basic recall is important, too. As a responsible dog owner, you will undoubtedly keep Muffy on a leash while on the trail. However, if she should accidentally get away, you want to be sure she’ll come back to you when you call her.
Choose your trail wisely. A wider trail means that you and Muffy will have more room to comfortably maneuver around people and their dogs. Also, choose trails that are dog safe. Check that the trails don’t have sharp rocks to walk on or cliffs that your four-legged friend can accidentally fall off of. Trails that include scary footbridges should be avoided, too. At least until the two of you are experienced hikers ready to tackle any situation. No matter where you choose to hike, please take multiple poop bags with you and clean up after your dog. Leave the trails poop-free to ensure that your canine partner and you, as well as other canine friends, will be welcome back. Now go strap on your hiking boots, put Muffy’s leash on, get your supplies ready and have a wonderful day!