There are many opportunities open to you when you own a dog, largely thanks to their need for regular exercise. Rather than taking your furry friend to the park all the time, you might want to try something more challenging and take him or her up a mountain.
This can be a fun experience for both you and your dog. However, there is a lot of preparation required to ensure the experience is as safe as it is enjoyable. To help you plan your trip properly, we will look at some great tips for preparing for your trek.
Train Your Dog A Little Before Your Trek
Before you plan your mountain hike, you need to train your dog beforehand. You need to make sure they feel comfortable around other people and dogs, as the mountain will likely have many people and dogs coming and going.
It may be worth investing in some training for your dog. Consider taking some baby steps and initially travel shorter distances than you are planning to go eventually when you take your waggly tailed friend on the hike.
This is particularly vital if normal exercise for you and your dog consists of a walk around the park. A hike up a big steep hill or mountain is much more taxing than the average walk around the park. Not only is the terrain uneven, but it is possibly steeper than you and even your dog are familiar with.
Aside from actual physical training though, you may want to make an honest assessment of just how well-behaved your dog is. We all like to see our animals through rose tinted glasses and think the very best of them. However, although you may be out in the middle of nowhere halfway up a hill, it doesn’t necessarily mean you will be alone. Along with other hikers and dogs though, depending where you are, there could be other animals, such as cows, birds and other critters.
If you are not sure how well he or she will fare with other animals around, you may need to invest in some professional obedience training. At the very least, your dog should be able to obey basic commands such as sit, stay and come.
Remember, if anything happens while up the mountain, if your dog tires out or gets injured in some way, you will need to carry him or her down, so you need to make sure the hike is a fit for your dog.
Find Hikes Suitable For Your Dog
While you may have mountains in particular you want to tackle, it is crucial that you make sure they are suitable for and open to dogs. There are various sites you can look at online to find the information on trails that are okay for dogs such as meetup.com or explore-mag.com. With some hikes there may be parts where you have to carry your dog, so we would recommend using an outdoor harness with a handle.
Pack Snacks, Food And Water For You Both
When hiking alone, you probably would take lots of water and some high-energy snacks. When you hike with your dog though, you need make sure that they too have enough water and food. It is wise to bring their favourite food and snacks along and don’t hold back from packing more than normally is necessary as your dog will be using more energy and burning more calories than normal.
Some great dog treats to take along include dog biscuits, as these are easy to pack, usually contain higher levels of sugar and are easily digested quickly. If your dog enjoys a meaty snack, jerky treats are great too.
Bring Dog Poo Bags
One phrase that goes hand in hand with the countryside is ‘leave no trace’. Therefore, you should leave the mountain the way you found it, collecting any rubbish as you make it and disposing of it in the correct way. This includes your dog’s poo. So, make sure you pack enough dog poo bags for a whole day of activity.
Doggy First Aid Kit
Along with a first aid kit for yourself, to help if you trip or fall and get injured; you need to also pack a first aid kit suitable for your dog too. You never know what could happen, so it’s best to be prepared.
Pack Extra Clothing
Make sure you pack the right clothing for your canine friend based on the location of your hike and the weather forecast. In temperate climates your dog will not require a coat. However, if you intend to take a number of stops, you should take extra clothing to keep them warm and happy. The layer system often used by human hikers is effective for dogs too. As well as waterproofs, you should invest in a high visibility jacket or vest, when visibility is poor.
Bring Their Toys
Bring along your dog’s favourite toy. This is ideal for when you want to take a break and want to keep him/her occupied.
Keep an eye on your dog at all times during the hike to ensure they are not uncomfortable, overheated or fatigued. If your dog starts to behave differently, pants more than normal or limps; stop and make sure there is nothing serious going on. Make stops regularly, rather than waiting until they look noticeably tired or poorly.
There are a wide array of different injuries that can befall your dog when you are taking him or her up a mountain on a hike. Some of the most common include:
Avulsed Toenails – although you may not think a toenail injury would be worthy of highlighting, an avulsed toenail is anything but a minor issue. Compared to human nails that grow from very soft nail beds that lie underneath the cuticle, your dog’s claws grow from the last bone in their toe. When your dog suffers from a blunt injury to one of their nails or their nails overgrow, it can cause the nail to lift itself up (in other words avulse) from the surface of their toe. Not only is it painful, but if it is not appropriately treated, an infection can form in the soft tissues that surround the nail and this can spread eventually into the bone. So, what starts as a small problem can turn into a much bigger, more serious one with long-lasting implications.
This can be prevented though by ensuring that their nails are kept short. If you see any bleeding coming out from the toenail, a deep fissure or even a crack in their nail; wash it, use antibiotic treatment and cover it. As soon as you get home, take your dog to a vet, to have it checked out.
Bites – Although we all expect other owners to keep their dogs under control, on the side of a mountain anything can happen and more often than not, its not the other wild animals on a trail, but the other dogs that can be the biggest problem.
As previously noted, investing in a great leash is crucial for a hike. But even if you have a good quality leash, your dog may still get bit. If he does, it is vital you realize these kinds of wounds are far worse than they may look initially. Another dog’s sharp teeth could easily transport bacteria into the wound, and if the bite is from a strong and large set of jaws, it could even damage your canine’s deep tissue.
Try to keep the area clean, if possible and cover any lacerated or bleeding skin with a bandage to keep debris and dirt out. Assess the bite when you return home, and if drainage continues and increases or the wound has become even more painful – take your dog to the vet.
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Mike loves spending time outdoors with his Cockapoo, Luna. He can normally be found walking up mountains or sat at his computer blogging about dogs at www.poochingaround.co.uk.