1. The Story of a Hiker and His Dog
My name is Jeremy and I am the proud owner of Soka, a Siberian husky.
I'm going to tell you all about my experiences of hiking with your dog in the summer, or what we call "dog-led hiking” and why I love it so much.
Unlike a stroll or walk, when you go on a dog-led hike, your 4-legged friend is attached to you in a leading position.
Here are some tips for getting started and exploring walking trails with your dog.
2. The Advantages of Hiking with Your Dog
The main benefit of hiking with your dog is that it increases your closeness with your pet. An outdoor activity will not only give you a strong sense of well-being but also a feeling of companionship with your 4-legged friend and will strengthen your connection with him.
3. Choose Trails Suitable for Hiking with Your Dog
Good preparation is needed for an enjoyable hike, and it's the same with your dog, with a few important things to plan ahead.
- The Route - Your dog will want to discover our region's trails just as much as you do. But
- Hydration - My husky cannot tow me on a hike above temperatures of 15-18°C, so it's important that when it gets warmer, I can keep him continuously hydrated. For the hydration of two-legged hikers, take a look here.
- The Type of Trail - Your dog may be very agile but it won't be able to climb a ladder so forget about very exposed or elevated walkways, ladders and ropes. Discover our article on classifications to hike at your level.
How to Equip Your Dog
Once you have planned your route, the next step is to prepare your kit.
There are two options depending on the breed, size and age of your animal and the type of hike (intensive or not).
- The dog backpack It consists of two side pockets of different sizes. This means that your companion can transport its own water, food and maybe even its "toys". However, be aware of the load your dog can carry, it is not a mule and the dog's back cannot carry a very heavy load. A dog in good health can carry a third of its weight. For safety, and if you are going to be walking for a long time, plan for your dog to carry a load of around a quarter of its own weight.
- Carrying your water and food in your own bag Personally I opt for this approach. The advantage for the dog is greater freedom of movement. As soon as your bag(s) is/are ready, it's time to prepare the dog's harness and again the choice of harness is made based on the dog and the chosen activity. There are several shapes with the "x-back" type harness being the most suitable for dogs that are towing. The attachment point is located just in front of the tail and therefore the dog tows its entire weight. The main thing is that the dog is not attached "by the neck" as it is with a lead.
The final step is to connect to your dog using a lanyard with a shock absorber (elastic). Leashes for sled dogs work very well. The lead rope is then attached to the backpack stomach strap.
5. Rules for Dog-Hiking
There are some rules to consider when dog-led hiking:
first, be respectful of other hikers, and respectful of fauna and flora. For example, avoid approaching herds or wild animals even with your dog attached to you.
Take bags for your dog's poop. Remember to deal responsibly with your own waste too.
For optimum enjoyment it is important that your dog is well-trained: heel, (just in case), sit, walk and more useful commands specific to dog-led hiking: left/right (important for unexpected forks), stop (very useful in case of problems), in front (for him to assist you).
6. Post Hike
Once you return home, the first thing to do is to look for any ticks and the second thing, is to get the food bowl out. You must wait one to three hours before feeding your companion. The dog's stomach is at greater risk of dilatation-torsion as it is more mobile. Giving your dog food after exercise increases the risk of stomach torsion. The third is to check the dog's paws. Dogs who love lots of affection might also enjoy a little massage after the hike.
TIP: Use encouragement rather than punishment, your dog may be stubborn, don't worry too much if he's a bit disobedient. Just encourage him and congratulate him when he is obedient. Do you want to go out with your dog all year round, even in winter? Have you heard of dog-led snowshoeing?