Fall Hiking with Your Dog: Tips for the Trail
Now the weather has cooled, and thanksgiving break is approaching, you may be planning to enjoy more of the great outdoors with your family, friends, and furry companions. If you’re hitting the trails with your dog this fall, keep these tips in mind to ensure you have a safe and successful day of activity and adventure.
Where can I hike with my dog?
Trying to find trails in your area suitable for your dog can be unique to your own dog and the area you live in. There are several factors to consider when it comes to finding the best hikes to venture on with your dog:
Some trails are not dog-friendly, so it is important to research locations before setting out to ensure your pup’s presence will be welcomed.
Either look up a specific trail you have in mind or use various websites like bringfido.com and your city’s park department website to help filter your searches. Even if a trail is dog-friendly, it may require your companion to be leashed at all times. If you’re looking to let your dog roam a little more freely, this is another component to consider when choosing a hiking location.
Consider the size and activity level of your dog. If you have a larger, more energetic pup, they will likely be more up to the challenge of a longer and more strenuous hike. If your dog is smaller or tires easily, you may want to stick to shorter, less advanced trails (unless you’re ready to carry them home!)
Think about the safety of the trail’s environment - is your dog well equipped to tackle any challenges the trail may bring? Read up on a trail’s description and some pictures of the general environment. Will you have to weave through brambles or nettles? Does your dog’s size and shape leave them vulnerable to injury from these? Have there been reports of predators in the trail area that may see your pup as a tasty snack if you let your dog roam free? Are there steep rock faces to climb or running water to wade through? Does your dog have the ability to navigate these safely?
Once you have found the perfect hike for you and your dog, it’s time to start getting prepped!
What to bring when taking a dog hiking?
Just as you would typically pack a bag of supplies for yourself, there are certain necessities to add to the list when your pet is joining you on the trails:
Don’t just think you can split your bottle with the pup; you’ll likely both get thirsty enough to need that second or third bottle between you.
There are many travel-friendly dog bowls to choose from nowadays at very cost-effective prices. Try to limit your pet’s desire to lap up the dirty puddles by always having a good bowl of freshwater to serve them at least every 30 minutes.
First Aid Kit
Just as you would bring band-aids for yourself and/or your family, it’s good to have some supplies for your fur-child as well.
Pack some pet-safe antibiotic cream, a bandage role, and a pair of tweezers to help remove anything that could get stuck in their paws
Every day on the trails can offer up some fresh surprises. Whether the crowds are larger than usual or there are other dogs around that aren’t as well socialized, it’s always best to have a leash handy to keep your pup close if anything unexpected pops up.
When you’re out in the wild, it may be tempting to let your dog’s poop blend into the environment, but leaving their waste behind is not just unpleasant for anyone that may wander off the path and step on it but can also be detrimental to the ecosystem if foreign seeds or parasites are introduced into the soils through your pet’s feces.
Rain jacket or fleece cover-up
Depending on the weather and your dog’s coat type, they may need a little extra protection from the elements to stay warm or dry.
If you don’t want your dog to bring the muddy, wet fall weather into your home, pack some pet cleansing wipes and an old towel in your car. Dry off your dog, then wipe away the mud, paying special attention to their paws and faces to prevent potential infection of these delicate areas. Give your dog’s fur a good brush, trying your best to remove any twigs, burrs, or bugs that may be clinging on.
Getting to hike with your dog during the fall can be wonderful; just make sure you’re taking the weather, the environment, and your pup’s unique needs into account, and you’ll be leaping in the leaves in no time!