Hiking With Your Dog
Fresh air and beautiful scenery are great things to share with a happy, furry friend. Whether you're indulging in a gentle forest hike or a challenging climb up in the mountains, hiking with your dog offers many benefits:
- Exercise. Fit dogs tend to lead longer, healthier lives.
- Bonding time with your dog. Dogs really know how to live... just being outside, sniffing the air and trotting through the grass or the forest is enough to make them happy. Share in their joy.
- Relaxation. Being outside in quiet beauty of nature can help you to get away from stress of daily life. Plus watching your dog enjoy himself is great stress relief too!
- Tired dogs are happy dogs. A well-exercised dog is more relaxed, well-adjusted, and less likely to bark excessively or be destructive.
Preparing Your Dog for the Hike
Lots of dogs will happily burst out the door, ready to do whatever you want to do. But just like people, they need to be conditioned before tackling a hike. You wouldn't climb Mount Everest if you the most challenging thing you've done is walk around the block!
Even young dogs and active dogs should be conditioned. Start gradually increasing the time, distance, and difficulty of your walks. Don't push your dog too hard - you want him to still love his walks! - but steadily work towards the fitness level necessary for your planned hike.
Strenuous hikes are not appropriate for all dogs. Older dogs or dogs who are sick or injured, for example, may prefer gentle walks through the forest rather than climbing a mountain. Always choose a hike that's suitable, safe, and enjoyable for your dog too.
What To Bring
- Waste bags. Yes, even on the trail or in the forest you'll need to pick up after your dog.
- Water. You may also want to bring a portable pet travel bowl to make it easy to offer your dog water. To keep water cool, freeze the water the night before. As you hike, the water will gradually melt but keep cool. Offer water to your dog regularly so that he stays hydrated.
- Food. A small amount of food can give your pooch an energy boost.
- Flea, tick, and heartworm treatment. Dogs who live in areas where these are a problem may already be treated regularly. If you're travelling with your dog, check to see whether fleas, ticks, or heartworm are a problem in the area. Hiking through the bush gives much more opportunity for your dog to pick up fleas and ticks!
- Leash. Even in off-leash areas you'll need a leash just in case.
- Dog boots or clothing. Ok, this may sound strange, but in some cases boots or clothes for your dog is for their own comfort and safety - not for the "cuteness" factor! For example, if you'll be hiking over rough terrain, boots can help protect your dog's paws from cuts and abrasions.
First aid kit.
Related Dog and Hiking Links
- Dog Hiking in Western Canada
Dog hiking in Western Canada. Where and when to go, what to take and the best trails for you and your dog to enjoy!
- Hike With Your Dog - Find A Tail-Friendly Trail or Beach in the United States and Canada
- Canadian Adventures | Scenic Travel Canada
Many scenic hike descriptions - most hikes allow dogs except in the wilderness backcountry.
- Dog Parks and Dog Beaches in Canada
A list of dog-friendly parks, off leash dog parks, and dog beaches throughout Canada.
- Before you go: check trail conditions and rules. Don't take dogs onto trails where there have been bear (or cougar, or moose...) sightings. Try not to take dogs into the backcountry where encounters with wildlife are more likely to happen. Also check the trail rules as some trails do not allow dogs.
- Keep dogs on the trail and be aware of ecologically sensitive areas. Always pick up after your dog.
- Don't allow dogs to approach other hikers or their dogs unless welcomed. Not everyone appreciates a snout-poke, no matter how friendly. Step to one side with your dog as you pass other hikers or groups.
- Always keep your dog under control. If the trail rules require your dog to be leashed, then leash him. For their own safety, as well as courtesy to other users of the trail, dogs running free need to respond to your voice commands. Otherwise keep your dog leashed even on leash-free trails.
- Think twice before taking dogs on heavy recreational-use trails such as those used by horseback riders, snowmobilers, or ATVers. A collision or confrontation between your dog and one of these users can ruin what would have been a pleasant hike.
- Do not hike in areas that permit hunting. It's too much of a risk for dogs.
- Respect the wildlife. Dogs should not be allowed to chase or harass wildlife. Leash your pet and leave the area if you meet up with a bear or other large animal.