Labrador and hound mix dogs are excellent hikers, but these breeds require a bit more care than some of the others on the trail. If you’re planning on hitting the trail with your pup, keep these tips in mind to make sure you both have fun and stay safe!
When you go hiking with your lab and hound mix dogs, you need to keep both of the breeds in mind. The hound side of your dog will want to track everything and the Labrador side will want to take everything as a souvenir!
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Starting to Hike With Your Lab/Hound Mix Dog
Hiking is a great bonding activity for you and your dog. It can also mentally and physically tire them out (which is great for high energy dogs like lab/hound mixes)! Begin by preparing your pup to enjoy hiking before you even get on the trail.
First, if they don’t already know commands like sit and stay, you need to teach them. These commands are potentially life saving. Come is also a must have for the trails.
Also make sure your dog knows the leave it command. Their Labrador side will want to pick up anything on the trail. You may want to let your dog carry around a stick while hiking, but if there is trash or any other suspicious item on the trail, you want to make sure they do not pick it up!
Your dog’s hound side will want to sniff every scent. Remember that dogs’ noses are incredibly sensitive and they can gather a lot of information from sniffing!
It’s good to let your dog sniff around for a few moments so that you can exercise their mind at the same time you’re exercising their body, but you should be able to call them off a scent to continue on the trail.
Next, start taking him on easy hikes in environments similar to where you plan to take him—this is called acclimation training.
Make sure there are no other dogs around (unless they’re well-behaved) so your dog has all of his attention focused on what he needs to learn: how hiking works. You may want to go early in the day or take a day off during the week when the trails are less busy to help get them acclimated to the trails.
Then you can start introducing hiking trails that have more inclines to help build your pup’s stamina. This will give you a good idea of how easy or difficult it will be to hike with your dog in addition to helping him prepare for new terrain.
After you pick out a trail, start out at his slowest pace—you may have to carry him at first while he gets used to walking on uneven surfaces and climbing hills, especially if they are young! You can bring a baby sling or a backpack that your dog fits in just in case.
Now that you’ve acclimated your dog to hiking and have started going on longer, more difficult hikes. If you can find a group of other well-behaved dogs who also like hiking, that would be best—it helps socialize them and get them used to hiking together.
Hiking Gear to Use with your Lab/Hound Dog
Harnesses are generally easier to use with larger dogs. When hiking with a dog of any size, you’ll want to make sure to have them fitted with a harness rather than a collar—and no matter what time of year you’re hitting trails, have their tags on and keep them up-to-date.
Consider investing in a dog backpack (a backpack to put your dog in) in case they get injured on the trail, become exhausted, or something else happens that requires them to be carried. You can also carry extra water for you and your dog in the backpack as well as some basic first aid supplies.
One great option that you can use to give your dog extra support is a hiking harness. This will help to keep them steady and stable while you make your way along trails, without putting too much pressure on their neck or back.
Many harnesses are designed to be easy to put on and take off, which is a great feature—but what’s even better is if they can also be used as a car restraint system.
These hiking harnesses also usually have a handle that you can use to pick your dog up if there is a steep rock to climb or you need to physically move or restrain them. The harness should sit on your dog’s breast plate and not up on their neck where it could choke them like a collar.
Some dogs will need to wear hiking booties if they have sensitive paw pads. These booties are designed specifically for dog paws and can help to keep them from getting injured or hurting themselves.
However, before you purchase these or any other kind of outdoor gear for your dog, make sure that you buy what’s best—not just what’s on sale.
These particular products need to fit properly and adjust well around your dog’s legs, as well as having Velcro straps (rather than buckles) so they don’t get caught on anything when they’re moving quickly or if they jump up and down.
Make sure to keep up with your dog’s drinking needs, especially if it’s hot out. Dogs dehydrate faster than humans and they don’t sweat as much, so they can easily become overheated while hiking.
On hotter days or longer hikes you may want to carry a water bottle in addition to some dog-friendly water in a doggy bag. Use caution at all times while on hikes and make sure you aren’t making things too difficult for your dog—they should be enjoying himself and not getting hurt or overly exhausted.
How to Know When to Stop Hiking
Labrador and hound mix dogs have TONS of stamina, but it’s important to know when to stop hiking. Dogs get tired and can overheat easily. If you are unsure if your dog is tired, you can tell because he or she will walk slower, stand frequently, pant heavily and drool more.
When a Labrador hound dog shows these signs of exhaustion, it may be time to call it a day. Otherwise, you might end up in an emergency situation later on due to heatstroke.
If you notice that your dog is showing signs of exhaustion, it’s a good idea to stop hiking and find a safe place to spend some time. Dogs can overheat, get dehydrated and develop other problems if they’re pushed too hard.
Pushing a Labrador hound dog in extreme heat can also cause organ failure or death. Be cautious about spending too much time hiking in hot weather and pay attention to these other signs of heatstroke.
This is where your backpack can come in handy. If a rest and water isn’t enough to get your dog back to hiking, you can place them in the backpack and carry them until they feel well enough to continue. You should consider taking your dog to the vet if they are having trouble recovering from their hike.
Hiking is a great way to mentally and physically tiring your labrador and hound mix dog. You can also spend time bonding with them on the trails. Do you have any additional tips for hiking with your labrador and hound mix dog? Please let us know in the comments below!