Hiking with your dog is a wonderful bonding experience.
As I’ve said many times before in this blog, emotional wellness is a vital component of your dog’s overall health.
The exercise part doesn’t hurt either.
Now that trees are turning green again and old man winter has retreated to his cave, it’s only natural to want to take your pup out on a few nature trails.
The benefits of walking with one another are astounding.
When you spend time walking in nature with your dog, you will…
- Expose her to new experiences (read: new smells).
- Make him happy that you’re spending time together.
- Improve her muscle and bone health.
- Break boredom patterns that lead to his chewing and anxious behaviors.
- Enhance her cardiovascular and heart health.
While there is a long list of benefits, there are also some precautionary measures that many pet owners don’t think about.
If you haven’t taken your dog hiking yet, read these safety agenda items before you head out!
Protect Fido with these dog safety measures.
You need not only a leash, but also a harness.
It’s obvious that you need a leash to hike with your dog. It doesn’t matter how well trained he or she is, you still need a leash.
This is not as much for other people’s protection, as it is for your dog’s safety. While a leash is crucial, a harness is also important, especially if your dog is not used to hiking.
When your pup is in unfamiliar territory, it’s a natural inclination to explore the new surroundings.
Having a harness makes it easier for you to control your dog’s movements and direct the course forward.
Hydration is key.
Exercise causes thirst, and it’s somewhat difficult to have your dog drink from a bottle.
Before you hit the trail, you’ll also need a water bowl, and luckily there are portable dog bowls available.
Most of these portable water bowls are collapsible, so you can easily latch them onto a leash or keep them in a backpack.
Whenever your dog starts panting excessively or slowing down, sit down together and have a drink.
[Veterinary Tip: to tell if your dog needs water, gently lift the skin at the back of her neck. If the skin returns to its normal position quickly, dehydration is not a serious concern. If the skin is slow to bounce back, give her some water.]
Be aware of your dog’s age and fitness level.
Other considerations include the dog’s age and fitness level.
If this is your first time taking Fido on a trail, you may want to pick a shorter one—about 1 mile or so to test his fitness level.
Another factor is age. If you have a teenager, opt for a shorter trail. Even if there are no signs of health issues for your dog, age is still a factor.
Train your dog for the hike.
Much like human beings require athletic training, dogs require the same methods for preparedness. I recommend working in training intervals. Once you get on the trail…
- Start with a slow walk.
- Graduate to a 15-second jog.
- Walk for one minute.
- Gradually increase the time of your walking/jogging intervals.
Know your dog’s maturity level.
Has your dog seen a squirrel before?
Did he think it was a threat to national security or exceptionally tasty looking?
If so, be aware of these behaviors. When dogs encounter a new creature, a common reaction is to chase it.
In order to improve your dog’s health before hitting the trail in the upcoming summer months, give her the vital supplements the body needs!