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Know Before You Go: Hiking with Your Dog

Are you an avid adventurer who recently adopted a new dog? Or a newbie on the trail looking to bring your pup along on your new hobby? We’ll cover the basics to make sure you and your dog are set up for success and safety on the trail.

Prepare Your Pup for the Trail

Believe it or not, dogs aren’t born trail-ready. You’ll need to work out exactly when your dog will be ready. This may depend upon their age, endurance level, or physical fitness.

A visit to your vet will help determine what vaccines or preventative medicines they may need before venturing out into the great outdoors. If you have a young dog or puppy, you will need to take it easy until their growth plates are fully developed. Taking puppies on long repetitive activities like jogging without multiple breaks can cause orthopedic problems. Ask your vet for more information on this topic. If you plan on taking your puppy hiking, bring a bag to carry them in or keep it short with lots of breaks along the way.

Keep in mind if you adopted a dog that transferred in from another area of the country, they may need time to acclimate to our elevation and heat. For these pooches, starting in the foothills may be a better option than climbing a peak. 

hiking with dogs

Now that you know your puppy or dog is fit and ready to go, we recommend the following. 

  • Knowing your trail regulations
  • Brushing up on doggy obedience
  • Getting the right gear

Not all trails are off-leash, and watersheds do not allow dogs. Some national and state parks do not allow dogs on their trail systems, be sure to do your research beforehand. Following the laws keeps the trails accessible to all dogs and their people. You should maintain control of your dog at all times, whether they are on or off-leash. Step off the trail and yield the right of way to hikers, horses, and bikes. 

Having your dog on a leash isn’t enough. You also need to keep your dog calm as other people and other animals pass by. Practice basic obedience or attend our Hiking Hounds dog training class. You can sign up for a single lesson or multiple. These classes are held on trails along the Wasatch Front. They allow you and your dog to practice your training skills with real-life distractions. 

Having the right gear can make all the difference. 

  • We recommend a well-fitted “Y-front” harness with a back attachment and a long lead. Keeping your dog on a leash will keep them safe from wildlife, cliffs, or rivers 
  • Having an up-to-date microchip and collar ID will help you reunite if your pet should become lost 
  • Bring more water than you think you need for you and your dog. Give your dog a chance to drink water multiple times throughout the hike 
  • Booties may protect your dog’s paws from sharp rocks if their paw pads aren’t acclimated to walking on the rocky terrain. They may also protect against the hot sand 

Lastly, we encourage everyone to practice Leave No Trace. Always pack out your dog’s waste. If you’re worried about a breach, double bag the poop and stash it in an odor-proof bag. You can purchase these bags online and keep them in your day pack.

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