Dogs can be great hiking companions. As a dog owner, you’ll enjoy walking and spending as much time as you can outdoors with your pet. If hiking is one of your preferred activities or passions and you plan on hiking with your pet, you should know how to train a dog for hiking. That’s what I’ll be explaining in this article.
However, before proceeding with the training, there are several things to check.
What To Consider Before Going Hiking With A Dog
Hiking can be quite strenuous physically to humans and pets alike if they are not fit enough for the task. Therefore, the first thing to check is your pets’ physical state; is he fit enough to go on a hike? If you have an overweight dog, it will be advisable to help your dog lose weight before taking him on any serious physical activity such as hiking.
Furthermore, you’ll have to consider age. Age is another important consideration due to the bone density and or state of your pet’s limbs. Puppies with immature bones shouldn’t be going on hikes, and neither should senior dogs with weak limbs. See our helpful post on how to keep a dog’s joints healthy for more tips.
Finally, you should know what to take on a hike with your dog. You’ll need to take certain items when you are going but more on that later.
Anyway, If you’ve checked all of these, here’s how to hike with a dog;
1. Get Your Dog Used To Leashing
When on a hiking trip with your dog, you must put him on a leash if he has not been trained to be off-leash. Using a leash will help to keep him within your control and prevent him from running off. Your dog should be used to taking outdoor walks on a leash, so you must first begin with leash training.
Dogs who are up to 8 weeks old are old enough to walk on a leash. Leash training can take up to 10 weeks to complete. If you have a bigger dog who is somewhat stubborn or a dog that likes to pull, you might need to use a harness as well. See our informative post on how to train a stubborn dog to walk on a leash.
2. Teach Your Pet Important Commands
There are must-know commands for dogs. These commands are necessary to know before going out with your pet as they could save your dog’s life in the case of imminent danger.
These commands include come, sit, stay, wait, let’s go, etc. In other words, this is called obedience training. Your dog must understand these commands to avoid problems when en-route hikes, especially when your pet isn’t leashed.
Fortunately, training your pet to understand these commands is not difficult. You will need to call out the commands and use demonstrations. For simple commands like come, go, fetch, and more, treats can help hasten your dog’s understanding.
The key, however, is repetition. The more you practice these dog commands, the more your pet understands and responds accordingly.
3. Practice Sleeping With Sleeping Pads
You’re not hiking at home, so your dog wouldn’t be sleeping in his comfortable dog bed if you’re staying overnight. Instead, you’ll be sleeping in tents, pads or other less comfortable places, and you’ll need sleeping pad for dogs or a dog mats for him to rest on.
If you wait until you’re out before introducing your dog to sleeping pads, he’s likely to have a hard time falling asleep. Hence, your pet should practice sleeping with sleeping pads or sleeping mats beforehand.
A good way to start to practice is by letting your dog take afternoon naps on the sleeping pad. Slowly transition to nighttime and make your dog switch between sleeping on the dog bed and pad until he’s comfortable with both.
If your dog sleeps with you in your bed at home, that may not work for your trip. You may wish to train your dog to sleep seperately first. See our post on how to train your dog to sleep in a dog bed for more information.
4. Pack All You Need Before The Trip
There are several things you’ll need to hike with your dog. Already, I have mentioned the leash, dog collar or harness (optional), and your dog’s sleeping pad.
Others include dog food, water, treats, dog backpack, poop bags, lamps, boots, first aid kit, etc. Dog boots are a necessity to protect your pets’ paws against injuries and unfriendly ground temperature. See our post on how to train your dogs to wear shoes and boots if he is not yet used to it.
Your dog can carry some stuff in his dog backpack if he’s been trained to wear a dog backpack. Dogs can carry up to 25% of their weight, and if he carries a backpack, you wouldn’t need a harness.
5. Know How To Keep A Dog Happy On Trails
This step may seem minor, but it is essential as it is important to your pet’s emotional health. If your pet isn’t happy outdoors with you, it could affect the bond you both share.
Therefore, ensure he’s well fed before any trip. It’s easy for your pet to get thirsty, so you should offer him water every 15 minutes or at least every 30 minutes.
Furthermore, dogs are very insightful. It’s easy for them to get scared if there are other hikers around. So, it’s a good idea to greet other hikers and interact so your pet understands that there is no need to be perturbed.
See the video below with fifteen additional tips on hiking with a dog. This will ensure you are fully ready for for anything on your trip.
Should You Hike With Your Dog?
Now we know the steps on how to train a dog for hikes. The question arises. Should I go hiking with my dog? Well, taking your dog on hiking trips is good as it could contribute positively to your dog’s health.
According to Pet Coach, outdoor sounds, sights, and smells help keep dogs’ minds active and alert. Some outdoor dogs specifically prefer such trips to staying in the house all the time.
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While hiking with your pet is beneficial, you should put always put your dog’s safety first. Do not go on hiking in places that are not pet-friendly. Furthermore, while outdoors, do not leave your pet alone; your pet shouldn’t be running free unsupervised to avoid getting lost.
There you go. By reading this article, I’m sure you now know not just how to train a dog for hiking but also what to consider before hiking and what your pet stands to benefit from it.
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