Read these 12 Hiking with Pets Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Hiking tips and hundreds of other topics.
When hiking with pets, be sure to take the following guidelines into consideration: Be sure the physical condition of your pet is adequate for your intended hike. We all want to think Fluffy is up for a long trek, but older pets in particular may not be able to make the full trip. You don't want to be left carrying him/her and a backpack! Bring enough water for both you and your pet. Pack first aid supplies for your pet. Nothing is worse than seeing your pet in pain and not being able to assist. A little planning keeps your hike safe and fun for you and your animal companions.
If you are camping with your pet, remember that sometimes your animal can get disoriented in unfamiliar surroundings. He/she may even get lost. Be certain your pet has adequate identification, such as tags on your pet's collar and an identification microchip implanted under the skin, so that you can recover your animal. The ID tag should include phone numbers of people who can reach you while you are on vacation, as well as the phone number of a reliable contact back home.
On any overnight excursion with your pets, bring bedding (a blanket or an air mattress) specifically for your pet to keep him/her off the ground. This will keep them warm, dry, and clean. Putting plastic underneath cloth beds on the ground will keep out moisture. Ideally, you should bring their home beds along. Animals respond more favorably when surrounded by their own, familiar scents. A happier animal means you can better count on them to behave on a long journey.
How well do you know your pet? Do you know what makes him/her excited? If so, are you able to contain your pet? Learn to read his/her body language and posture. If you can't anticipate your pets' reactions to various situations, you cannot effectively hike with him/her. Obedience classes help you understand your pet better. Taking small trips with them beforehand will also help gauge whether they are ready to hike with you.
If you take a pick-up truck to your hiking destination your dog should ride with you in the cab. If this is not possible for whatever reason, purchase a dog carrier and put your dog in it when he or she travels with you. Dogs have died from falling or jumping out of the bed of a truck. Leashing them to something in the bed of the truck is not sufficient, as dogs have inadvertently hanged themselves trying to jump from the truck. Place padding the floor, ceiling and sides of the truck bed for better protection.
Everyone likes to share their outings with animal family members. But be respectful of others on the trail. Do not allow your pet to chase wildlife or other animals. Be mindful of the rights of other hikers not to be bothered by even a friendly dog. Bury your pet's waste as you would your own. Take special measures at shelters. Leash your dog in any shelter area, and ask permission of other hikers before allowing your dog in a shelter.
Wherever you hike and however long each excursion is, be sure to pack several gallons of bottled water for you and your dog. This will help you avoid bacterial contamination while traveling, since water quality varies from place to place. If you run down to the last half gallon, begin mixing in equal parts with the water supply at your destination. If your pet is especially sensitive, use distilled water. Keep water in the car to prevent dehydration.
Whether we like it or not, sometimes are pets will endure an injury on the trail. Here are a few items to add to your pet's First Aid kit. Many items can by obtained from your local vet: coated aspirin, VetWrap, Kwik Stop or septic powder, small nail scissors, Ear and eye ointment (like Ottomax and Terramycin), tick tweezers, waterproof surgical tape, spints, butterfly bandages, a small razor (to shave hair from around a wound), and a Snake bite kit.
A well-trained dog should stay with his/her owner while hiking. Ideally, they should not squeeze past other people on the trail. Dogs racing ahead have the tendency to push other hikers by mistake or even knock hiking poles. Eventually, many dogs will simply turn around again to check for their owners anyway, so the annoyance is doubled! This is especially a problem when dogs are muddy and wet from a dip in the local water source.
If you plan to hike in a national park with your pet, here are a few guidelines most parks request you adhere to. You must clean up after your pet. Pets are prohibited at many state beaches, picnic areas, and historic sites, so keep this in mind when you make travel plans. Pets are not to be left unattended in vehicles or enclosures, mainly for their own safety. If you walk your pet in the park, keep him/her on a leash at all times.
If you're camping and hiking with your dog, get a Lyme vaccination well in advance of your trip. It's a good rule of thumb to take your pet to the vet for a full check-up before any traveling in general. At that time, you can assess the risks of where you will be hiking and ask your vet if a vaccination is necessary. In any event, it's wise to carry with you a pair of good tick tweezers (for both of you) in the event that your pet is bitten.
Dirty paws are no fun at home, and certianly nothing any camper wants to see trekked all over tent floors and shelters. If you intend to bring your dog to a public campsite on your hiking trip, keep them outside of shelters and off shelter platforms. Even if there is no one currently in a shelter while you are there, dogs can track mud in, leaving it behind for the next hikers. Keep an eye out for any mess your dog may make and be sure to clean up before leaving.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|