Being an avid hiker it's one of my favorite activities to do with Sloan, hence my business name PEAK9. Hiking is great for us to take our dogs on however there's safety to consider from wildlife encounters, dog health and trail etiquette.
What are some of the essentials to pack with you?
Bear spray. Having bear spray easily assessable and knowing how to use it when you have your leash in your hand is crucial. Practice with your dog on leash and you having to get that bear spray and pretending to spray it.
Water. Pack extra water for your dog, and consider the time of day and temperature you are hiking. Dogs heat up quickly especially being as active as hiking, it's best to think of sun exposure going up and descending the mountain and how much water your dog will require for both.
Emergency kits. Anything can happen while being in the great outdoors thus its always smart to be prepared. Rocks, sticks and heat can be hard on the pad of dogs feet and other body parts. I've added extra items to my own first aid kit such as tweezers for those ticks that can be present and dog friendly bug spray.
Food. Ensure your dog is well fed to keep up their energy. Bring snacks and or meals to give along the way.
Extra leash and collar/harness. It's always good to have an extra of these and they can be used in an emergency as well.
Poop Bags. Picking up after your dog anywhere and everywhere, while disposing it in the garbage and not leaving it in the beautiful environment.
Optional dog back pack. My dog wears his own pack and is able to carry his water, food and first aid kits. If you are thinking of one it's a good idea to introduce your dog to it slowly with positive reinforcement and ensure they enjoy it before setting up a mountain.
Trail etiquette is important for our dogs and for others on the trail. Having your dog on leash is not just the law in designated areas they are also safety tools. A leash is essential for your dogs and wildlife's well being. It's not just bears out there, there can be deer, mountain goats, and those smaller ones that dogs love to chase from marmots to squirrels. All wildlife should be able to be safe and non disturbed in their environment. If your dog is like mine wildlife is very interesting to them and unless your recall cue is 100% it is not worth your dog getting lost, possibly hurt or away on you chasing these curious creatures.
Additionally a leash keeps your dog near you when sharing the trail with others. Not all hikers are dog people, I know shocking! but seriously not everyone wants a dog running up to them and may even be afraid of dogs. As polite manners if the trail is narrow I cue my dog to move to side and do a sit while others pass. It also gives him space and a break which is sometimes needed for our dogs in busy environments. Which brings me to my last point reading your dogs body language to ensure they are enjoying themselves while hiking and when meeting other dogs on the trail. It can be stressful for dogs to meet on leash especially with tension on the leash, now add in narrow spaces it's not the most ideal situations for dogs to be greeting each other. It can be even more stressful if one is off leash running up to an on leash dog. Always be aware of how your dog is feeling by reading their body language and watching how they react when another dog is coming up to pass. Give them space if they need it and help them be comfortable.
We have a beautiful backyard and are lucky to be able to explore it. Enjoy it and stay safe!