5 Effective Tips To Safely Hike With Your Dog

Rilor Staff
Update: September 7, 2020
Table of Contents

Hiking is undeniably one of the most thrilling ways to explore the wild. It allows you to see scenic landscapes and formations in a rare bird's eye view perspective. It is good for your health and helps you freshen your mind, effectively relieving you from various forms of stress. 

However, don't you know that you can hike with your furry friends? Dogs, specifically, are excellent companions for such expeditions. They can make the journey a lot of fun and memorable, especially if you treat your four-legged buddy as one of the pack. 

But just like humans, dogs have to be treated with constant care and attention on their first hike. And even in the succeeding hikes, you should never leave your pet unattended. 

Tips To Safely Hike With Your Dog

If you are planning to hike with your dog, essential preparation is necessary. A responsible hiker (and pet owner) would never miss the opportunity to learn all the fundamentals of hiking with a furry companion. 

There are several things that might come into your mind when it comes to this expedition. In fact, it is not surprising if you are going to postpone the idea. But I do encourage that you try this adventure. Trust me. It is a wonderful experience. 

Here are some of the essentials for hiking with a pooch:. 

  • Pre-hike preparedness - You need to consult a veterinarian regarding the overall condition of your dog. Is your best friend suited for a rigorous activity like hiking? Necessary pre-hike preparations should also include obedience and etiquette training for your dog.  

Building your pet's stamina is also a must. Also, Pick a trail that allows dogs and pets.

  • Dog pack - Dogs have hiking packs, too! You need to get the right ones that could fit the frame of your beloved buddy!
  • Provisions - Food and water are all crucial for the survival of your pet. Your dog could spend a considerable amount of energy once you are on the hike. Make sure that your buddy is properly fueled from time to time. 
  • Hazards - Don't ever think that your dog is impervious to the external elements. It can get sick from extreme heat, intense rain, and bacteria. Other wildlife can also threaten your dog. 
  • Other essential equipment - If you are planning to stay in the wild for a couple of days, you should secure a tent that can fit you and your buddy. Don't forget to acquire a first-aid kit. 

Tip 1: Preparations

Safely hiking with your dog is impossible without prior preparations. It is your prerogative as the owner to ensure that your dog is in its top condition before going to the hike.

Go To The Vet

Visiting your vet is a mandatory procedure here. Animal health experts are the ones that can give clearance as to whether or not your dog is already fit for the trip. 

  • When is my dog physically ready for hiking? If your dog is still a pup, then you should wait for a little more before you can take it with you on your outdoor adventures. The bones of a puppy are still not developed; hence, they are still susceptible to fractures. The minimum age a dog can hike is one. However, this still depends on the breed of the dog, its size, and some other stipulations that your vet might place. 
  • Does my dog need to take vaccines and medicines before the hike? When hiking, it is entirely for your dog to lick on something--it might be a pond, lake, or even the surface of a rock. These things might contain pathogens that could harm your dog's health. Therefore, it is essential to ask your vet regarding the possible interventions that could be put in place to protect your dogs from these hazards.

Learn More About The Trail Regulations

Not all parks and forestries allow dogs on their trails. Whenever picking a destination, make sure that it permits dogs as your trail buddy. Otherwise, you have no other choice but to select another route where they are allowed. 

Fortunately, a myriad of national forests is open for pets. You just need to know their rules and procedures for this particular jaunt. 

Strength And Endurance Training

Please be mindful that the playfulness and cheerfulness of your dog don't translate to the latter having an unlimited pool of stamina. They get tired, weary, and sick, too. 

A physically exhausting adventure of hiking requires training for both humans and dogs. Do not forget to train them, specifically in the hiking regimen. Look for a hiking route and ascend there with your dog for 30 minutes or an hour. 

If your dog remains active after this period, you can increase the training time the next day. Make this a routine until your dog is used to it. 

Intensify Etiquette And Obedience Training

Never let your dog accompany you on the trail if you haven't trained it properly. Once outdoors, you need to have full control over your dog's action. Unruly dogs can actually ruin the journey and even affect other hikers, too. You have to teach your dogs to be calm if other canines are present. 

Securing them in a leash is not enough. Always assist in your dog to move out of the trail whenever the right of way is for other hikers and passers.

Observe "Leave No Trace" Policy

Once you are in the hike, be mindful of the residues and secretions of your dog. If it lay waste on the ground, put it on the poop bag right away. Do not wait for another day before you clean it up. If you are worrying that the poop might escape, put it on a double-bag.

Of course, you are not going to bring the poop back to your home. You are going to dispose of it in a properly designated area. 

Specifically, the poop should be buried in a 6-inch hole that is at least 200 meters away from the main trail, water sources, and camping sites.

If your dog wants to urinate, the 200-meter distance policy might not be practical anymore. Just go to an area distant enough from any water sources.

Tip 2: Fitting Them With A Dog Pack

It is not only you that requires the essential hiking gears. Your dog requires it as well. 

Don't get the idea that a dog pack is a piece of optional equipment for hiking. It is a requirement if you want to ensure that you remain safe and comfortable throughout the journey. 

There are a myriad of dog packs available in the market today. Honestly, you have different options to choose from. Regardless of what you want, the right design requires an ergonomic top handle that allows you to hold your dog close whenever needed. 

Learning How To Find The Right Fit For Your Dog

It is easy to find a dog pack that fits perfectly with your dog.  

Measure the circumference of the chest of your dog. You should do the measurement in the broadest region--specifically around the rib cage. 

Depending on the size, you can search for packs that are compatible with the numbers you got. Many dog packs have adjustable straps to ensure that they will not fall off. 

As a reminder, don't attach the dog pack tightly. Your dog will have difficulties in breathing and moving if you make it too snugly. Of course, don't make it loose as the pack might slip away. 

Once you purchase a dog pack, train your dog with it. First, let them wear it empty. Let them stroll in your house, then next on walks. 

If your dog is already accustomed to the pack, put loads on both of the sides of the pack. Gradually increase its weight until such time it will reach the ideal weight. By the way, the maximum weight you can put in the dog pack is 25% of the weight of your dog. 

Tip 3: Provisions

Hiking and trailing are exhausting activities. You and your dog need to be replenished from time to time to ensure that you can complete the journey. 

Packing the essential provisions--like food and water--is vital to keep your dog afloat. The survival of your pooch actually relies on the nourishments that it gets throughout the trip. As I said, their energy levels are not infinite. They require rest and rejuvenation, too.


Let's talk about the specifics. Large breeds usually consume half to one ounce of water per pound every day. This means that if your dog weighs 15 pounds, their water consumption should be around 15 ounces daily. 

But that's just the average estimate. Given that hiking is quite stamina-draining, they might need more than that. 

You also need to pay attention to the water. Is it hot? If that's the case, you should keep your dog hydrated from time to time. 

You can easily identify if your dog has enough water intake or not. Take a look at its nose. If it is dry, then you fail to hydrate your dog enough. 


Similar to water, your dog requires more things to eat during a hike. They need enough calories to burn so that they can complete the trip without being lethargic. 

The amount of food that you should feed to your dog is dependent on various factors. If it is an extensive and challenging terrain, they need high-calorie intake. The same is true if your dog loves to move or wander around. 

It isn't easy to make food recommendations here. The people that are qualified to give you are the veterinarians of your dog. Hence, don't ever hesitate to consult them about this matter.

Extra Tip

How can you know if your dog is thirsty or hungry? Many pet owners have bat this question already. While it sounds tricky, its answer is quite simple. 

There's a good chance that your furry buddy is thirsty and hungry if you are feeling the same way, too. You and your dog are connected to the gut. Trust your instinct if you think that your company requires replenishment already. 

Don't hesitate to find a spot to rest, have a munch, and take a breather. 

Tip 4: Watch Out For Hiking Hazards 

I like people taking their dogs in camping and hiking activities. It is a pleasure in the eyes to see both humans and animals interact in harmony. 

But let me give you a reality check here. Your dog is actually susceptible to various hazards while they are outdoors, especially in mountains, forests, and other off-grid terrains. 

The saddest part about this is that your dog is not aware of these hazards. It is your duty to protect them and ensure that no harm can come in their way.

  • Exhaustion - I keep on telling this, but some dog owners seem to be oblivious about the risk of overdoing the hike. It can exhaust your dog, and that is quite deleterious to their health. 

If your dog is breathing heavily, that's a sign that you need to take a break first. Let their system get back to normal before you start trekking again. Another indicator that your dog is tired is when they limp already. 

Take multiple breaks if necessary. Alternatively, you can shorten the trip.

  • Heatstroke - Many dogs died because of heatstroke. You don't want to happen to your beloved buddy during the trip. You should always be conscious of their hydration, especially if the weather is hot. 

Let your dog drink multiple times during the trip. That's completely okay. Furthermore, you might also need to bring a cooling collar to moderate their body heat. If the sun is on its peak, look for a natural canopy that can provide shade for you and your dog.

  • Snakes and wildlife - Another issue during a hike is wildlife encounters. Snakes, bears, and wild animals can be a present threat in your trail. 

Of course, the best way to deal with them is to avoid them altogether. That's why it is essential that you can pick a trail that is free from these creatures. If they are there, ensure that their population is not that big in your given trail. 

Chances are, you can still run into them. If that's the case, do the following:

  1. Have your dog on a leash while you are camping or hiking. By doing so, you can easily control them.
  2. Don't veer off from the trail. A clear path is the safest one. However, be wary that snakes could be slithering under bushes, logs, and rocks. Be attentive to where your dog is sniffing.
  3. Once you are at the campsite, do not let your dog wander unattended. 
  4. It is ideal if you can take a snake aversion class before you go to the hike. This will be important for you and your dog. It usually involves the use of a mild shock collar and the proper identification of various snakes based on their smell, sound, and appearance.
  • Pathogens - There's a need for you to keep hydrating your dog. But since we are talking about hiking, there's a limit as to the volume of water we can bring. 

It is not actually safe to drink water coming from rivers, lakes, ponds, and other water bodies in the wild. There's a possibility that there are pathogens there that can harm your dog. 

Before you drink anything out there, make sure that you treat and filter them. Safety comes first before anything else.

  • Dangerous plants - Sure enough, wild plants and grasses are hazardous to your dog, too. The best way to avoid them is by stopping your dog from chewing them. Otherwise, they can get poisoned or digestive problems. Most of the time, these conditions are life-threatening. 

There are certain species that you should watch out. Sumac, poison oak, and ivy can be discomforting to your dogs. Meanwhile, burrs and thorns will irritate them. But be wary about foxtails, as they can cause disruptive reactions to the body of your buddy.

If these foxtails snagged your dog, remove them using tweezers immediately. 

Tip 5: Other Hiking Essentials For Dogs

  • First-aid kit - You have no access to a veterinarian while you are hiking. Therefore, you should bring the basic first-aid kit for your beloved dog. Of course, it is necessary that you know how to use it well. 

You can ask your vet the tools and amenities that should come in a doggie first-aid kit. Probably, this will include medicines, wool socks, and bandages. 

In some instances, you will be required to bring Pedialyte. This medication can treat diarrhea. However, seek the permission of your vet first before bringing one. 

  • Tent - Staying at a campsite with your dog is allowable as long as you have the appropriate tent. Never let your dog sleep outside! 

The size of the tent is important. Make sure that it is spacious enough for you and your dog. You can use a down comforter and foam as the bed for your four-legged friend. 

It would really be great if you can get your dog accustomed to sleeping in tents before the hike. 

Consider bringing these essentials, too:

  • Water container
  • Booties
  • Cooling collar
  • Safety light 
  • Dog coat


These are the tips to hike safely with your dog. Although the list is quite extensive, it is still vital to fulfill all the recommendations here. Your furry friend is at stake here. One little mistake can endanger them. 

Always remember that there is no means you can get immediate help for your dog in the trail. Preventive measures must be taken into account to guarantee that accidents and risks will be avoided. 

Do you know other ways to make our dogs safe on the hike? Share them with us in the comment section below. 

Other readings you may enjoy
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram