Dog-Friendly Hiking Tips

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Paws to paths can be a joy – when all goes well. But if your dog isn’t up to the trail, your pack just might get a little bit heavier.

Our friend’s little cocker spaniel quite enjoyed the view from the backpack, but I couldn’t imagine carrying a full-grown Lab. It almost happened though, on a trip to the southwest one spring. Sandstone wore the pads of dog boots and after a few hours we were following bloody pawprints. We ended up unable to hike back out and had to formulate an emergency exit plan via the lake and a couple of kind souls with a boat.

Six tips for successful outdoor adventures with Fido:

  1. Make sure your best friend is in shape for the hike. Just like you, dogs need conditioning before hitting the trail.
  2. Carry a collapsible water bowl. In a pinch, heavy plastic bags work as well.
  3. Choose routes without a lot of steep rocky scrambles where claws and paws don’t grip as well as the soles of your hiking boots.
  4. If possible, avoid walking through weedy areas with burrs that stick equally well to socks and shaggy dog coats.
  5. Plan rest stops with shade for your dog – even if you prefer to sit in the sun.
  6. Watch for ticks and always check your canine companion after the hike.


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