Dog hiking is an activity where dogs are taken alongside their guardians to wilderness areas. Sometimes packs (similar to saddle bags) are strapped to the dog, so they can carry their own food and/or water (which is often referred to as pack hiking).
Hiking with dogs is great exercise and enjoyable past time for outdoor enthusiasts.
Selected destinations do need to be reviewed in case the park or natural habitat has any particular dog restrictions. Some parks and mountain routes do not allow dogs due to ecological or wildlife preservation practices.
On hiking routes dogs are often required to be on-leash and rules regarding trail etiquette and safety need to be followed. Usually more populated areas require dogs to be on leash.
Some wilderness areas will allow off-leash hiking as long as a dog is under "voice control". No matter where the hike, the recall command is the single most important command for a dog to obey when out hiking.
In hiking, proper preparations are as important for a dog as they are for people. Hot days and rough terrain can hurt a dog's' paws, so hikers should equip themselves appropriately to prevent injuries to a dog's feet. Also a dog, just like people, can get sun or heat stroke, so will need enough water to drink along the way. A dog should also have ID tags (or microchip), rabies vaccine and a flea/tick preventative. If going into back-country areas, equipping a dog with a GPS collar is also a good safety precaution.
Before going on a hike, a dog's fitness also needs to be assessed. Not all dogs will be physically capable of long, arduous hikes. So easing into the activity and determining a dog's fitness threshold will help determine appropriate hikes to go on. Gradually expanding the distance, duration and elevation of daily walks will help build a dog's endurance. (Dogs who are under one year old are still developing their muscles and bones, so they should not go on hikes that last more than half a day.)
Aside from taking the necessary precautions, dogs thoroughly enjoy recreational hiking with their guardians worldwide.
Read other articles in our series on Dog Sports:
- Canine Freestyle / Dog Dancing
- Disc Dog / Frisbee Dog
- Dog Hiking
- Dock Jumping / Dock Diving
- Dog Scootering
- Dog Surfing
- Earth Dogs
- Scent Work / Nose Work
Do you have a dog sport experience or tip you want to share? Post your comments below.
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