If you own a dog and are trying to stay fit, there are quite a few activities that you can do together, one of the main ones being hiking. There’s nothing quite like getting out into the great outdoors to build camaraderie and provide you with an opportunity to get some good exercise. Who knows, hiking could even prove to be your new favorite activity!
There are some things, however, that you’ll want to set up ahead of time to make sure that hiking is a good experience for both of you.
First, you need to make sure that your dog is in decent shape. If your dog is more of a “couch potato” who doesn’t get out much, it’s going to be a challenge to go out on a walk of any length. Pets, like people, need to build up their endurance and fitness before taking on major physical activities.
Think about your own level of fitness. Would you want to get active immediately from a sedentary life? Probably not. Don’t expect that from your dog. Instead, start slowly. Begin by just walking around the neighborhood. After the two of you are used to shorter walks, gradually increase your time and distance. You should notice over time that your dog is not getting as winded or tired out. Once you see that, it’s a signal that you can move on to bigger and better things.
Communication is essential in preparation for your hike and the hike itself. While commands like “stop”, “wait” and “heel” are important in everyday life, they become increasingly important in the great outdoors.
Imagine the pain you’d feel if “Fluffy” took off after a squirrel and ended up sliding over a cliff. Not pleasant to consider, but better to think and prepare than to have it actually happen. Evaluate how you and your pet work together and note how obedient your pet is in familiar territory before setting off.
Once you’re confident in your pet’s fitness level and obedience level, it’s time to pick a hike! It’s recommended that you start off with something relatively easy at first as the natural progression from all of those walks around the neighborhood.
Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate!
To make sure everything goes smoothly and everyone makes it back in good condition, next consider the nutritional needs of your pet. What do you take for yourself on a road trip? Typically we take something to drink and snacks. So, don’t forget to bring those things for your dog, especially water.
Remember, that your dog can’t really even sweat since he’s covered with hair. Plan on bringing lots of clean water for you and your dog. Don’t forget the snacks either, as your buddy will work up an appetite on the hike just like you do.
Finally, don’t try and take more than one dog at a time if this is your first time out. Without experience, that could turn into a disaster. You want to reinforce good habits, and if they’re both distracted, they could end up copying bad habits.
Early on in your hiking trips, you want to minimize distractions and diversions as much as possible so you and your pet can get acclimated to this new routine. You want your pet to be paying more attention to your instructions than all of the distracting scenery and wildlife. After you’ve got the basics down, you can look to add more complexity with another dog. Don’t be in a hurry though. Enjoy the process.
So, keep these suggestions in mind on your next adventure with your canine friend. Enjoy your time together in the great outdoors!
Got your own tips? Let us know in the comments below.