Hiking With Your Dog…..are you ready?

Ahhhh, early autumn and changing leaves!  As the days get cooler, my thoughts turn to hiking with my dog.  I’m fortunate to live in an area where I can easily walk outside of the fenced acreage around my home and hit a few trails.

I love being out of doors and so does my dog!  If it’s exciting for me, it’s nirvana for a dog with all those fabulous smells.  For your dog, the outdoors is like their own personal iPod and cable TV rolled into one…it’s excitement, for sure.  Even before I grab my shoes, my dogs’ eyes are sparkling with the mere thought of going outside with me.  Before taking your dog into the woods or on a trail, you should make sure your dog is prepared.  Perhaps even more importantly, you should make sure you, your dog’s protector, are prepared.

The most important factor to consider is will your dog truly enjoy herself?  Have you socialized your dog well so that she’s comfortable and confident in new situations?  Have you done the training necessary to ensure she’s controllable around other people and other dogs?  Does she have a reliable recall (if not, on-leash hikes are the ticket).  Will the weather be too hot or cold to ensure her comfort and safety?  While you can never predict the weather, being prepared and being willing to adjust accordingly will help make your journey successful.

Once you’ve done the proper planning, here are some tips to make the day successful.  Let a friend know where you’re going and when you plan to return.  Check out the local dog policies for area or trail you plan to hike.  Confirm your dog is current on rabies and other necessary vaccinations.

Take water from home for you AND your dog and stop frequently to give your dog water breaks.  Don’t let your dog drink from streams or lakes where there’s potential to ingest bacteria or parasites (like giardia).  Dogs can easily over exert themselves, so make sure you give her a break if she seems tired.

After your hike, be sure to give your dog a thorough check (ears, face, body, feet, etc.) for any briars or burrs she may have picked up along the way and also check her paw pads for cuts or stickers.  Once you return home, you can both enjoy a well-earned dinner and some R&R together.  Give her an extra special belly rub and revel in the glory of spending time out of doors with your furry friend.


Lisa Lyle Waggoner is a CPDT-KA, a Pat Miller Certified Trainer-Level2, a dog*tec Certified Dog Walker and the founder of Cold Nose College in Murphy, North Carolina.  She enjoys providing behavior consulting and training solutions to clients in the tri-state area of North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee, as well as offering educational opportunities for dog trainers and dog hobbyists throughout the U.S.   www.coldnosecollege.com



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