Here at Alpha Pak, we are all about encouraging the outdoorsy dog owner to get outside with their dog, and providing them the gear they need to do so. For those that want to get started with hiking with their furry best friend, here are some tips to ease your transition to companion hiking and get your dog ready for exploring outdoors.
Grab the Right Gear
The first step in having a successful camping or hiking trip with your dog is to have the gear you need. Make sure you have a sturdy leash, a collar with contact information on the tag, a harness if your dog prefers to walk with one, booties for their paws for any extremely cold or hot weather or rocky terrain, compact water bowls and first aid items for your pup. If you are planning on camping overnight alongside your hike, make sure to bring them a sleeping pad and any comfort items that they may need. Plan to make room in your backpack for what your dog’s needs, or invest in a dog backpack so they can carry their own gear. Check out our blog on how to use a dog backpack to get your pup used to the weight and feel.
Not every dog is going to be a master hiker right away. Start your dog off with smaller hikes and walks to build their stamina and familiarity with these adventures. If your dog is already well leash trained, consider shorter and easier trails to start with and build from there. Try taking them out in multiple weather scenarios to build up their comfort level. Remember to never push your dog too far, and always keep an eye out for any behavior that may signal they aren’t comfortable or are stressed.
Take Your Time
Slow and steady wins the race! Not only should you start with easier hikes, but take your time while on the trails. You'll have more time outside to enjoy the beautiful scenery, and a slower pace will ensure you are getting the most enrichment out of your hike. Allow your dog to take their time and grow familiar with what’s around them, take breaks when needed and encourage healthy curiosity in your pup.
Be Okay With Failure
Not every hike will be a complete success, and it’s important to have grace for yourself and your dog, especially if you are just starting out in hiking. Keep a positive attitude and don’t give up on those harder hikes. If you and your dog can’t reach the summit this time, make it a goal to reach it the next time.
Understand Your Dog’s Limits
You know your dog the best! Keep your eye out for signs of exhaustion, stress, pain or general disinterest. The more you monitor for these symptoms, the safer your hiking experience will be. Your dog trusts you to take care of them, and while they cannot speak, they can give you other signs to let you know how you feel. As mentioned above, it’s okay to fail and you and your dog’s safety comes above anything else.