The Essentials -- How to have a good hike with your dog
A tired dog is a happy dog.
Especially if you have a younger dog, or a higher-energy breed, you know the old maxim is true that a tired dog is a happy dog. Walks are great, but can get repetitive for you and for your dog -- why not shake things up a bit? Give you something new to see, give your pup something new to smell, and get those sweet, sweet pics to spice up your Instagram feed.
So what do you need to know before you go?
- First off, and this is a big one, not all trails allow dogs. Find a dog-friendly trail, and make sure you understand the leash rules -- some places are on-leash only, some have off-leash areas, and some places (like Fort Funston in San Francisco) have some funky gray areas. Getting it wrong can end with you getting slapped with a fine.
- Prepare ahead of time so that you know that the trail you're taking is a good fit for you and for your dog. Do you need to monitor your dog's exertion? Better find a flat trail. Does he handle heat ok? Know ahead of time whether the trail is mostly shaded, or sun-drenched. And it's not just your dog's health -- your dog's personality matters too. Will your dog's prey drive lead it to chase a rabbit off the trail (and possibly off a cliff -- it's California, so some of these areas can be treacherous)? Know what wildlife to expect so that you can keep your dog under control and you both out of bad situations. All this and more is included in each of our trail reviews.
- For some places you can get by with just poop bags and a leash (and maybe a ball to throw); other trails might be best tackled with boots and rain gear for you and your pup in certain seasons. If it's worth calling a hike, you're best off also bringing water (enough for everyone!), a first aid kit and a bowl for your dog to drink out of; wearing long pants will also save you from scratches and poison oak/ ivy. Check out our product & service reviews for all the info; our trail reviews lay out the equipment we think you might need for specific trails.
- Did you know that many dogs are lost in the moments following a car accident? You can't just pile everyone into the car -- secure your dog in a way that they have room to move but are still ultimately tied in. Does your dog (or your human companion) get car sick? Take it slow, roll the windows down -- heck, we've even found that Grammar responds well to Chakra-balancing chant music (seriously). Keep everyone safe and comfortable on the way to and from the trail.
- Stay hydrated! Even if it's not hot you're still losing water over the course of your hike, and the same is true for your dog. Check out our post on hydration for all the details.
- If something does go wrong on the trail, be prepared -- be sure to bring a first aid kit and have a basic understanding of first aid for people and dogs -- basics like addressing cuts and gashes, and wrapping sprains so that you can get back from the trail safely. All of our trail reviews also include info on the nearest animal hospital.
- Just because you're done with the hike doesn't mean your day needs to end -- our trail reviews include other dog-friendly activities including dog parks, bars and restaurants, and hotels in the area.
- Get out there and have fun! Follow us on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date on new trails to try, and let us know where we should go next! We'll see you on the trail!