Hiking or Backpacking with Your Dog
You are likely destined to be great trail buddies. But, especially at first, this is a hiking companion who’s going to need a lot of care and feeding. Remind yourself that this is what you signed up for, then consider the advice below as you begin to create a more perfect trail dog.
Consult with your vet, brush up on obedience training and trail etiquette, Value Dog Training can help with Obedience training and trail etiquette, pick appropriate trails, and build up your dog’s stamina.
For starters, puppies aren’t ready to carry a load, nor are their immune systems ready to take on the world. So you need to work out exactly when your dog will be ready.
Visit the Vet: Ask your veterinarian some key questions before you and your dog head into the wilds:
Is your dog physically ready? You need to wait until a young dog’s bones are fully developed. That might be at a year of age, plus or minus several months, depending on size and other factors.
Does your dog need any specific vaccinations or preventative medicines? In the city, you might not worry about things like your dog drinking water in a lake or pond that an infected animal has contaminated with Leptospirosis or even giardia. Ask the vet about preventative measures for outdoor destinations.
Is your dog’s immune system ready? Factoring in the rate of natural immunity development and your dog’s vaccine schedule, your vet can advise you about the safe age for you two to hit the trail.
Know Your Trail Regulations: Always check on the regulations for the areas where you’ll be hiking or backpacking. Most U.S. national parks, for example, do not allow even a leashed dog to share the trail. Many national forests, as well as state and local parks, do allow dogs on their trail systems, though rules vary. Leashes are mandatory almost everywhere. Dog Treckker is a good resources for dog friendly hikes and more. https://dogtrekker.com/Home
Bone Up on Obedience Training and Trail Etiquette: You have to maintain control of your dog at all times. Step off the trail to yield the right of way to hikers, horses and bikes. And having your dog on a leash isn’t enough. You also need to be able to keep your dog calm as other people and pooches pass by.
Leave No Trace: On day hikes, always pack out filled poop bags. It’s also bad form to leave them by the trail for later pickup. If you’re worried about a breach, double-bag on the trail, then remove any intact outer bags after you get home.
On backpacking trips, humans and canines have the same Leave No Trace rule: Bury pet waste in a 6- to 8-inch hole that’s at least 200 feet away from trails, camps and water sources. Enforcing the 200-foot rule for urination breaks isn’t practical, but be prepared to interrupt things and move away if your dog begins to pee in or next to a water source.
Start a Trail-Training Regimen: Ease into the routine of hiking. Start with hikes of an hour or so, then monitor the energy level afterwards. If your dog is still super active, increase the time for the next training hike. Your goal is to work up to the amount of trail time you plan to do on future day hikes or backpacking trips. This slow approach also helps toughen up citified paws.
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