Hiking with Your Dog

Getting out into nature is a great way to unwind for you and your pooch! Make the most of your adventure with these handy tips for a fun and safe hike.

Dogs need to be adjusted to activities just like people so don’t take a dog that has never been hiking on a 10-mile hike. Ease them in by working them up to longer hikes a mile at a time just like you would do for yourself. Take extra precautions with older dogs, or dogs at a higher risk of having health issues.

Dog Hiking Safety

  • Hiking on a trail with other dogs, wildlife and people can be very exciting and distracting for you and your dog. Your dog should have basic obedience training so that he or she can walk on a loose leash.
  • Dogs can overheat very quickly since they do not sweat. Remember to give your dog water and a chance to cool down. Temperatures can rise quickly as you hike up the trail, due to the lack of shade and water. Dogs can only cool themselves off by panting, so if the air is hot and they are dehydrated, they can easily get heat exhaustion.
  • Make sure the ground temperature isn’t too hot that it burns your dog’s paws. 
  • Stay on the trail for your dog’s safety as well as yours and watch for dangerous wildlife including rattlesnakes, scorpions, coyotes, mountain lions, and even bears in some locations.
  • Provide your dog with year-round protection from fleas and ticks. Use a safe topical medication once a month or as advised by your veterinarian. It can take up to 24 hours for the medication to fully absorb; for large dogs, you may want to put the medication on several places along his or her spine for faster absorption.
  • Be polite on the trail to other fellow hikers. Pull you dog to the side when passing other hikers. Always let horses and cyclists pass you first.
  • Always ask a dog owner first if your dog wants to meet an approaching dog. Not everyone will be ready to meet a strange dog; asking first and walking up slowly to the other dog usually allows for a friendly greeting!

What to Bring

  • Enough water for you and your dog with a container for her to use
  • Tick removal tool (available at most pet stores)
  • Sunscreen for your dog if he or she has white or light-colored fur
  • A collar and six-foot leash
  • Dog tags on your dog’s collar
  • One tag with your contact information
  • Your dog’s current rabies license tag
  • Poop bag(s) to scoop up the poop
  • Basic first-aid supplies