Did you know that June is the Great Outdoors Month? It earned this status several years ago through a presidential proclamation. The awareness event hopes to highlight the wonderful resources we have available to us in parks, forests, hiking trails, camping areas, and other types of public land. This month can be even more exciting when you have a dog to accompany you on your outdoor adventures. However, it does require careful planning to prevent injury and illness. We recommend that you schedule a preventive care exam at Battletown Animal Clinic before engaging in strenuous physical activity with your dog.

How to Prepare for a Hike with Your Dog

Hiking with your dog is great exercise for both of you and an enjoyable time of bonding. Before you set out on a trail, make certain you understand rules regarding dogs as well as how to follow proper etiquette. This includes such things as behavior training, knowing when to give another hiker the right of way, and keeping your dog contained with a harness and leash. We also recommend making sure that your dog has adequate flea and tick prevention.

Remember that you must clean up your dog’s waste on a hiking trail just as you would in a residential neighborhood. According to the website American Trails, dog owners must place the waste in a bag and then bury it in a hole located 200 feet or more from the main trail. The hole should be a minimum of six inches deep. You also need to train your dog not to urinate too closely to a water source.

If your dog gets a clean bill of health at his checkup, you can start training him for the rigors of hiking at home. Place a lightweight or empty pack on his back on the first day and go walking with him. You can gradually increase the weight each day until it’s close to what your dog would carry on a hiking trail. At its heaviest, the pack should not exceed one-quarter of your dog’s total body weight. American Trails also recommends not taking a dog hiking until he’s at least one year old since he would have difficulty handling the weight of the pack.

What to Bring on Your Hike

When you’re deep in the woods, you may not be able to find help if your dog experiences an illness or injury for several hours. For this reason, plan to pack a canine first-aid kit and bring it with you. The kit should contain the following items at a minimum:

  • Whistle
  • Regular medication
  • Rubber gloves
  • Cotton swabs
  • Small and large bandages
  • A lighted collar
  • Tweezers for removing ticks or other insects
  • Dog food as well as dishes for the food and water
  • A coat for cooler weather in the evening and early morning
  • A nail file and clipper along with protection for nails and paw pads
  • Towels for bathing, cooling, and wiping off paws

Once you have mastered the art of hiking with your dog, you might just decide that you want to go camping together in a national park. We wish you both a fun and active summer!

Photo Credit: Pixabay