Thinking about going hiking with your new puppy? Good for you! Hiking with your four legged buddy can be an unbelievably rewarding experience.
However, there are some guidelines that you should follow when deciding if your puppy is ready to take on the trail.
Things you need to take into consideration when deciding if your pup is ready to go hiking include the age of your puppy, breed, physical condition, mental maturity and level of training.
You want your new friend to join you in experiencing the great outdoors, but doing so before they’re ready can lead to them associating hitting the trail as a negative experience.
So, is your puppy ready for hiking? We’ll go over everything you need to know in this article.
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What Are The Physical Considerations?
As mentioned above, your puppy needs to be physically fit for the adventure. Too much strain might affect the growing bones of puppies. They might experience pain and even fissures. Even if your puppy is super active, you should not consider hiking without careful observation.
If you find them fit, make sure they are acclimatized to the weather you’ll be hiking in. If your pup spends most of their time indoors in the AC, then a long hike in 90 degree weather is going to be a shock. Taking them for extended walks, 30 minutes or so, can start to get them used to the weather.
Also, you will have to consider the breed. Some short-nosed breeds that include boxes, French Bulldogs, and pugs might develop respiratory issues during hiking. If you have any of these breeds, you will have to take extra caution to maintain the hydration and avoid any respiratory problems.
More importantly, you can consider a slower pace to minimize the risk. Give your puppy frequent water breaks and use a cooling vest to offer the required comfort. Hiking in cooler weather conditions can be the best option to mitigate the risk.
Finally, take the suggestion of your vet. They are the best people to help with the physical conditions of your puppy. They will also be able to help you prepare you and your puppy for the trail.
Prepare Your Dog for the Adventure
Even if your pet is physically fit to explore the adventure, you will have to take some measures to boost the stamina of your little friend. You can consider some training to buildup the muscle strength of the puppy. Enhanced muscle strength will prevent injury and extreme muscle soreness.
Make it easy but continuous. Start your training with easy hiking with a small incline to observe the energy level of your pet. If you find that the puppy is exhausted, shorten the hike.
Remember that animals also need some practice before a rigorous activity like humans. With regular practice, they will be familiar with the activity. They will find it easy and fun.
However, if you start with difficult hiking, they will not take long to be exhausted. They might not be motivated as well. So, make it easy for both of you with regular training and practice.
Prepare Your Puppy’s Paws for Hiking
Just like you need to protect your own feet when hiking, your pup’s paws are no different.
Puppies need the training to make the paw pads strong to prevent sore or ripped pads. In addition to the training, you can consider using paw protection wax to prevent burning and stress. Research on puppy booties and buy one if your puppy’s paw is sensitive. When the paw is protected, the puppy can enjoy different types of terrain.
If the paw becomes injured, both of you might not be able to continue with the hike. So, make sure that you are taking all the measures to build the toughness of the paw and protect it in adverse conditions.
What Are Basic Training Considerations?
A few basic training practices can prepare your puppy for adventurous hiking. Train to sit, stay, come, down, drop it, and leave it. These behaviors will protect your tiny friend from any unpredictable incident.
Also, you’ll want to keep your pet leashed at all times. Otherwise, they might harm themselves or others.
Most trails require dogs to be leashed at all times anyway, but it’s wise to always keep your new pup leashed regardless. You can’t be sure how your puppy will react to people, other dogs or even wild animals. Until you can be absolutely sure how your furry friend will react in social situations, keep them leashed.
Backpacks for Your Tiny Friend
Physical considerations and training behaviors are the key considering factors for whether your puppy is ready for hiking.
Next, you will have to focus on the backpacks to make the hiking safe and comfortable for your puppy. Take the opinion of your vet before allowing your puppy to carry the puppy backpack. Some puppies cannot handle the backpack and become exhausted.
You should first allow your pet to carry an empty bag. If you find the puppy comfortable, you can pack a few things. First, your puppy should be trained to handle some weight, and then you can add more to boost the stamina. Allow your puppy to carry the weight for some time every day.
By doing so, they will be familiar with the weight and will not feel uncomfortable during hiking.
While choosing a backup, you will have to consider the stamina and hiking needs of the puppy. The weight should not be more than twenty percent of your pet’s weight. As stated above, start with the empty pack and gradually increase the load over several days.
Also, ensure that the design of the backpack supports your pet’s height and body. It should be evenly placed on the body to avoid any discomfort and pressure.
What to Pack
Now, let’s cover the things that you will have to pack for your pup’s hike.
Most importantly, make sure that you have plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
You will need one quart of water for three miles. You will have to plan for water storage depending on the miles you want to cover. If you are planning to cover more miles, you will have to make sure that you have enough water to avoid dehydration and heat exhaustion.
Also, carry a portable water bowl for your pet.
In addition to the water, you may want to pack snacks, an extra leash, a dog towel and a dog brush. You will need all these things for all types of hiking. Before you go packing everything in your house, keep in mind that your hike with your pup shouldn’t be any more than about an hour. Water is still a must, but everything else is pretty optional.
Finally, I highly recommend getting a Back Seat Cover to protect your back seat. If the trail is even a little bit muddy (or if your puppy finds the one muddy spot… cause they will!) then your back seat could end up getting wrecked.
A back seat cover will protect your back seat from muddy paws, scratching toenails and will help keep hair of the seat.
Talk to your vet to know more about the medical requirements and precautions you should take while exploring the outdoors with your pet. The vet might suggest some vaccinations depending on the hiking location. Fleas, mosquitoes, and ticks can be dangerous to your little friend.
Your vet can help you with some parasite preventives to keep the pet safe during hiking. You can consider topicals, chewable, or injectables depending on the puppy’s needs.
First Aid Supplies for Your Puppy
While hiking with your pet, you will have to carry a first aid kit for your tiny friend. You can buy one or can prepare your own. While preparing, make sure that you have everything to deal with emergencies.
You will need a saline solution, first-aid guide, antibiotic ointment, an antiseptic, gauze, antihistamines, multi-tool tweezers, heavy-duty bandages (stretchy), tick removal tool, cotton swabs, and blood clotting powder.
While this may seem overkill for a short hike, all of these things should be in the first aid kit that you’re carrying with you anyway. Your first aid kit is something that may seem unnecessary until it becomes VERY NECESSARY. At the end of the day, it’s always better to have it and not need it as opposed to need it and not have it.
You can also ask your vet about the medicines that you might need during hiking.
Have a look at the following to know which things can ensure safe hiking for your puppy. When you’re well-prepared, you both can enjoy the adventure and plan for the next one.
However, when you encounter major problems in the first attempt itself, you might not consider venturing the outside world with your tiny friend again. Some smart decisions can make hiking much easier for both of you.
• Do train your dog
• Do a few practice sessions with short and easy hiking
• Do bring a comfortable harness
• Do keep your companion hydrated and cool
• Do pay a visit to a vet before hiking
You can protect your puppy by avoiding all the following mistakes. A few steps can enable your pet to enjoy the adventure without being affected by the surrounding, physical, and mental stress.
• Do not forget any important puppy items
• Do not leave your tiny friend unleashed
• Do not consider pet unfriendly hiking areas
• Do not forget your pet’s first aid box
• Do not take a pet without proper training
• Do not panic while encountering a problem
• Do not force the pet when your companion is discouraged
• Do not forget any safety gear and extra leashes
Never Plan a Hiking with More than Two Puppies
There is no doubt that your puppy can be your best companion during hiking. However, you should not take more than two pets with you even if your puppies are well-trained. You might not face difficulties in a normal condition. But you might not control them in emergencies and unfavorable conditions.
So, act smart and plan your hiking with one or two puppies. You will not feel overwhelmed. You can enjoy your hiking without being worried about the safety of your puppies. Enjoy your adventure and inspire your tiny friend!