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How to Hike With Your Dog

  • Sep 1, 2017

Not every dog owner is a hiker, and not every hiker owns a dog. But many people who have dogs consider them part of the family, and cannot fathom going off on a hike without their faithful hound. While there are definitely trails that are not exactly pet-friendly - think anything extremely steep or rocky, for starters - there are many ways that both you and Fido can benefit from hitting the trails.

Start off slowly
If you only walk your dog a couple of times a day at most, it's hardly realistic to expect the pooch to suddenly be ready to march for hours. As Nicole Tsong recommended in a piece for the Seattle Times, start out with an easier trail when hiking with a puppy. Tsong outlined the trepidation involved in this activity: The dog might just decide not to go any further, which would prove problematic if far from the start or finish points. However, by picking a manageable trail using your WSD-F20, a relatively seasoned hiker could introduce the dog to a less stable path, the myriad sights and smells of the woods, and the experience of being around other walkers.

Prepare the dog for water
If you like to hike over many streams, it might be a good idea to do a trial run and let the dog splash about in a stream. He or she could get chilled if the water is cold, so try to let your dog swim and then get back to walking. If your pet balks, perhaps seek out other trails without water so you and your pup can enjoy the experience of hiking together.

Let your dog explore
While it might not always be the greatest idea to let your dog off the leash - there may be sudden, steep drops, or other hikers startled by a dog bounding out of the undergrowth - allow the pup to stop and smell the air, trees and foliage. Hiking is just as exciting for your dog as it is for you, so put yourself in your dog's position - don't just rush your pet along the trail. If you want this to be the start of a new routine for you and your dog, take your time in the beginning - and your dog will be more than happy to hike with you.

Carefully let your dog off-leash
Backpacker.com presented guidelines for hikers who want to let their dog run free. Be sure your dog is safe and socialized before letting it free on a trail. According to the source, this means the pup should not growl or jump on other hikers or dogs well before it is taken off leash on a trail. Additionally, be sure that you know the rules for dog walking: the source advised that dog-owners do some research and look into trail rules and local plants and animals. No one wants endangered species trampled or harmed by your pup.

With a bit of patience, some training and respect for the area and other hikers, you and your pooch will have a great time on the trails together. Just remember to clean up after your pet and leave your favorite routes in the same condition that you found them.

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