Hiking with a dog: our tips for being prepared
A hike in the mountains is also the perfect opportunity to strengthen the bond between dog and owner and to spend time with this additional member of the family.
Whether on holiday or on a day hike, you should consider taking your furry friend with you, especially to find relief from the high temperatures of the summer season. Remember, however, that walking in the mountains with your dog requires special care as the pet is your responsibility.
In this article you will find some valuable tips and discover some of the best trails for hiking with your dog!
Hiking with a dog: things to know
Are mountain trails suitable for dogs?First of all, we must remind you that dogs are not always allowed on mountain trails. In general, it is usually fine to take a dog with you on a hike, but some areas, especially national parks, restrict access to our four-legged friends or lay down precise rules, such as a leash requirement.
Apart from these limitations, there are also practical limits to be taken into account before embarking on a hike with your dog. Obviously, you should not go on a via ferrata accompanied by your dog, nor should you tackle paths that are too exposed or too rocky, as this would put your dog in danger.
Always educate yourself before setting off so that you can avoid any unsuitable trails.
Even dogs must be trained for a mountain hikeLike humans, dogs should also be trained before tackling a demanding activity which they are not used to. In order to best prepare your four-legged friend, you should take them on frequent walks, starting with short, easy hikes and gradually increasing the length of the itinerary.
If you notice that the dog often stops in shady areas and lies on the ground or is short of breath, it means that he is very tired so you should stop and take a longer break.
Can all types of dogs walk in the mountains?There are dog breeds that are better suited for strenuous physical activity and others that are not suitable for long walks. For example, the physical structure and leg type of dachshunds are unsuitable for mountain hikes, just as the short muzzle of pugs and bulldogs can lead to breathing problems during long efforts.
Before taking your dog in the mountains, we recommend that you visit your vet and ask if there are any special precautions you should take according to the breed of your furry friend.
Hiking in the mountains puts a strain on joints and bones, so if you have a puppy, you should not take them with you. In general, a dog should be at least one years old to be developed enough to undertake a hike. If a dog is elderly, or has back or hip problems, it is best to avoid taking it along.
Dog in the mountains: free or on a leash?In the mountains, dogs are not always allowed to walk without a leash, so it is always a good idea to check the restrictions in the area in which you intend to hike.
When it is possible to keep your dog off-leash, several things should be taken into consideration when deciding whether or not to use a leash:
- Breed: Some dog breeds are more docile or obedient while others are more independent and stubborn.
- Character: Some dogs tend to track and explore, which in some cases is dangerous because they can injure themselves, get lost, disturb other people or animals, or attract dangerous wild animals (wolves, wild boar, bears).
- Trail crowding: When walking on very crowded trails it is a good idea to keep your dog on a leash to avoid them getting in the way or bothering other people.
- Difficulty of the trail: If you have to tackle a challenging passage, it is good to have your dog on a leash so that you can point them in the right direction and be able to catch them in the event of a fall.
What to do at the end of a hike with a dog?
After the hike it is a good idea to make sure your dog is doing well and reward them with a snack for their efforts. It is a good idea to brush your four-legged friend to remove leaves, seeds, and thorns, checking especially delicate areas, such as ears and toes. It is recommended to check for signs of abrasion in the toe-pads, especially if you have walked along a path with many rocks.
Finally, ticks should be checked and removed, or a vet should be contacted. To prevent this, it would be best to treat your animal in advance with an antiparasiticide.
Hiking with a dog: how to pack your backpack
If you decide to go on a hike with your dog, don’t forget to bring supplies for them too. Below we have come up with a list of things to have with you during a mountain hike with your dog:
- Water: Fountains or streams are not always easy to find on mountain trails, so it is good to have water with you at all times, both for yourself and for your pet.
- Water bowl (or water bottle dispenser): This is essential to allow your dog to drink comfortably without wasting water.
- Food: Dry food is preferable to wet food because it does not have to be kept cool. Before setting off, ask your vet about the amount of food your dog should eat during a hike. It is best to wait at least an hour after your dog’s morning meal before setting off, so they don’t make themselves sick by exercising too soon after eating. It is also recommended to bring some snacks for your four-legged friend to eat during the hike.
- Collapsible food bowl: To allow your dog to eat comfortably.
- Leash: Preferably a long one to allow the dog to explore more freely. We recommend you carry a spare leash as your dog may encounter obstacles like rocks and trees that could cause the leash to wear out.
- GPS for dogs: If you have a dog that tends to follow tracks, they may decide to wander off on its own and this can be a problem, especially in the mountains. A GPS for dogs, as well as the one for humans, which we have discussed in this article, can save your pet's life.
- Muzzle: In some places this is mandatory, such as on ski lifts and in some mountain lodges.
- Identification tag: To be contacted in case the dog is lost and someone finds it.
- Harness: Preferable to a collar, as if the dog slips, it can be lifted without putting pressure on their neck and risking suffocation.
- Droppings bags: To avoid leaving your dog's waste along the paths.
- First-aid kit for dogs: Available in specialised shops and containing forceps, magnifying glass, disinfectant spray, tick repellent, and bandages.
If you often take your dog on hikes, it is also advisable to have an insurance policy that covers any damage to persons or property caused by your four-legged friend, or that covers the costs of first aid in the event of serious injury.
Top 5 Easy Dog Hikes in the USThe United States offers the most diverse landscapes to go hiking with your dog. We have selected some trails that you and your four-legged friend might enjoy!
Hiking in Perkins Central Garden (Colorado)If you are looking for an easy hike to do with your dog, then you should try the loop trail in the Garden of the Gods. On this itinerary you can admire the uniquely shaped red sandstone formations. The trail is dog-friendly but it is very busy so you will need to use a leash.
- Area: Colorado Springs, Colorado
- Difficulty: Easy
- Duration: 30min
Hiking in Little Wild Horse Canyon (Utah)This loop trail winds through a maze of canyons and traverses Utah's typical rocky landscape. The route is for true adventurers but it is also suitable for dogs, who are best kept on a leash during the narrower passages inside the canyon.
- Area: Ferron, Utah
- Difficulty: Medium
- Duration: 3h
Mount Philo Trail (Vermont)Mount Philo State Park is a place you must visit if you are in Vermont, and it is also the perfect place to go hiking with your dog. There are several easy trails that go through the park's dense forest and allow you to reach the peak, from which you can enjoy amazing views of Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains.
- Area: Charlotte, Vermont
- Difficulty: Easy
- Duration: 1h
Hiking in Chimney Rock State Park (North Carolina)
Chimney Rock State Park is full of trails that can be walked with your dog on a leash. One of the most beautiful is the loop trail that allows you to visit Hickory Nut Falls.
- Area: Chimney Rock, North Carolina
- Difficulty: Easy
- Duration: 1h
Hiking in the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve (California)
The Fiscalini Ranch Preserve is a kind of enchanted place, where biodiversity is expressed in all its beauty through numerous species of plants and animals. In this preserve your dog will be happy to discover new smells and new stimuli, strictly on a leash.
- Area: Cambria, California
- Difficulty: Easy
- Duration: Variable
GROOVE MID G-DRY: comfort and versatilityThis model is perfect for hiking and for your walks in the mountains with your dog. The dual-density midsole guarantees stability and comfort when walking, while the Garmont G-DRY membrane keeps out wind and water. The roomy fit also makes this shoe perfect for everyday use.