Hiking is one of our favourite hobbies. When Jordy moved to Germany he went on 4 hour hikes twice a week, on his own or with some friends of his. And although hiking is great on your own, it’s best with a four-legged friend!
We take Mojo on one-hour walks twice a day on average, but once a week we go hiking for four hours or so. When we visited Jordy in Germany we went hiking two days in a row, and Mojo enjoyed it so much.
I have found that going on a hike involves a bit more planning when you take your dog along, so I thought it would be a great idea to make a list of the most important things to keep in mind. Have fun hiking!
1. Make sure that dogs are allowed
Although hiking with your dog is fun and you and your dog will most certainly have a great time no matter where you go, it’s important to check a few things before you go.
Dogs are not allowed everywhere, and neither are humans! When entering nature reserves or any other forests and fields, make sure that the area is open for both people and pets. Though you might not have spotted deer, foxes, or rabbits, the area could be abundant in wildlife and there are rules to protect both flora and fauna.
Often, nature reserves don’t allow dogs, be it on- or off-lead. Please abide by these rules and select an area that is dog friendly!
2. Determine whether your dog should stay on lead
When it comes to hiking with your dog, one of the most important things to focus on is to keep your dog in sight at all times, and the easiest way to do so is by having them on a lead. However, we all know that dogs like to roam around and we understand that it’s nice to take them off the lead and let them run and explore. But it’s up to you to determine whether your dog can do that, or whether it’d be best to keep them leashed for the duration of your hike.
As we mentioned before, there are rules related to bringing your dog into forests and nature reserves, and many areas actually have leash laws. This is often related to wildlife or roaming livestock. Please follow these rules and keep your dog leashed if you are asked to do so.
Whenever you have the opportunity to take your dog off lead according to the rules that are set for a specific area, it’s important to consider whether your dog’s personality and allows for a safe situation, no matter what you may encounter. Reasons to keep your dog leashed even if you don’t lawfully have to would be:
- lack of a solid recall
- aggression towards dogs, children, or people in general
- a strong urge to hunt
If your dog is calm around dogs, greats people politely, can ignore both dogs and people when asked to, can resist the urge to chase after (and catch) other animals, you can consider taking your dog off lead.
3. Safety first
Closely related to the previous topic, safety is key when taking your furry family member on an adventure through the woods. Leashing your dog is a great way to ensure safety for both your dog and any people or animals you might encounter. There are however things you can do if you’d like to take extra safety precautions.
Some dogs resemble wild canids more closely than others, and people who are not familiar with breeds such as the siberian husky, the shiba inu, and similar dogs can mistake them for wolves, coyotes, and foxes. It’s hence clever to put a neon harness or collar on them to show that the animal is indeed someone’s pet, just in case they are spotted by a hunter.
If you plan on hiking earlier in the mornings or later in the day and (part of) your hike takes place in the dark, a neon harness or coat as well as an LED light are great accessories. They ensure great visibility to both you and other people. Mojo wears a harness and collars by Hurtta, which are all made with reflective material, and we add their Polar LED to her collar for extra visibility. You can find our review of these products here.
Just in case your dog does somehow run off, add a name tag with your phone number to their collar. If your dog is chipped, make sure that your address and information is updated on line and that the dog’s name tag indicates that he or she is chipped.
4.Check the weather forecast
Before heading out on an adventure, be sure to check the weather forecast and pick a day that is most suitable to be active and outdoors for an extended period of time. Keep in mind that you will be walking for hours on end, and that your dog will cover more miles than you, especially if they are off-lead. Dogs can easily overheat if they walk in sunlight or warm weather. On warmer days, it’s clever to walk in shaded areas like forests. If the temperatures are high enough to make you feel uncomfortable to be outside, it might be best to plan that hike for a different day after all!
The same can be said about colder days. If your dog does not have a double coat, there’s a chance he or she won’t enjoy long hikes if the temperatures are very low. Determine which temperature is comfortable for your dog to stay out in for extended periods of time and, if necessary, invest in a high quality coat to keep them warm on days with stronger winds or rain.
5. Bring enough water for you and your dog
A very important thing to keep in mind is to stay hydrated! Both you and your dog need water throughout the day so it’s important to take plenty. Although there might be creeks, lakes, and puddles everywhere, it’s best to take a travel bowl along for your pooch to drink fresh water out of. BecoPets have durable bowls that would be an ideal option.
Whenever you get thirsty throughout your hike, try to remember to take out the travel bowl and add a bit of water to it. If your dog seems interested, fill it up more so your dog can have a drink. If they don’t show interest, don’t waste the water and provide another drinking opportunity later on.
6. Use a comfortable harness
Comfort is important, that goes for clothing, shoes, as well as backpacks and other hiking gear. For dogs, the collar or harness might be the only thing they wear, but it sure has to be comfortable in order to ensure a pleasant hike.
We recently wrote about the Hurtta Outdoor Trail Pack and we love it as it’s lightweight, padded, allows for freedom of movement, and has the option to add a backpack. And that’s basically everything you want from gear your dog has to wear for extended periods of time. The backpack is great for longer trips, so your dog can carry his or her own food, water, bowl, poop bags, and other necessities!
There are many types of Y-shaped harnesses or comfortable collars, just find one that works for you and your dog. Make sure it’s durable and sturdy, and easy to clean as your dog will definitely get dirty whilst exploring with you!
7. Protect those paws
Now whether it’s summer or winter, your dog’s paws will have a rough time on longer hikes, and it’s important to treat them well before and after such a long adventure running on muddy paths, through puddles, over sticks and through bushes.
Mojo is sensitive to grasses and can get very itchy toes if her paws get wet and covered in sand. After having tried treatments prescribed by our veterinarian, that didn’t help much and which were made of chemicals, we went on a hunt for the perfect natural paw balm.
We found the Natural Dog Company, who produce natural, organic, vegan products such as paw balms. For a while now, we have used PawTection before our hike, and apply it to Mojo’s paw pads and in between her toes. When we return, we rinse and carefully dry her paws and apply the Skin Soother in between her toes and the Paw Soother on her paw pads.
She has not had any itching for months now and is doing great! If your dog suffers from dry or itchy paws, or any other skin problems in general, these products are definitely worth a try. You can use code ‘mojoandfriends’ for 10% off at checkout!
If you are planning a long hike on rough terrain, or frozen grounds in winter, it’s a good idea to invest in a pair of dog boots. These will keep your dog’s paws warm and will protect the pads from abrasive surfaces.
8. Prepare healthy snacks/lunch for you and your dog
If you are planning a long hike, it’s best to feed your dog both before and afterwards. Mojo usually only eats at dinner time, but when we plan a day hike she usually gets a raw egg for breakfast. Feed 60 minutes before you leave the house, and don’t feed dinner until 60 minutes or rest after you’ve arrived back home, to lower the risk of bloat.
During your hike, it’s important to have some healthy snacks to keep the both of you energised. For dogs, fat is the best source of energy, so it’s great to feed dehydrated sprats or tripe or a different dehydrated meat based snack that has a high fat content. As training treats, I prefer to use homemade dehydrated meat treats, to which you can find a recipe in a recent blog post, as well as a video.
Dogs value meat based treats very high, so they are great for obedience training and are perfect rewards after a good recall. But most importantly, they are very healthy and species appropriate.
9. Do not pollute the environment
Last, but definitely not least, we’d like to kindly remind you to keep the environment clean. Remember to pick up after your dog, and do so using biodegradable poop bags.
If you take training treats along with you, use a treat pouch instead of a single use plastic ziploc bag. Any other snacks can be taken in an airtight container, and your own food can be stored in one as well. No need to wrap your lunch in clingfilm or other single use forms of packaging!