Hiking with Dogs: Safety Tips and Preparations for Hitting the Trails with Your Pooch

Some of the most memorable experiences you can have with your furry pets are outdoors. If you love hiking, you probably thought about taking your pooch out on the trail. Hitting the trails for the first time requires careful consideration and proper planning. Though they may be the perfect trail buddy for you, dogs will need extra care and feeding.

Once you get past the first few steps, you’re bound to have an energetic and immensely happy pooch appreciating the outdoors. Here are some of the tips and preparations to remember before hitting the trails with your dog. 

Is Your Dog Fit for Hiking?

One of the first things to consider is whether or not your pet is right for hiking. You should not take a puppy or adolescent pooch on a strenuous hike, which may strain their young bodies. Puppies may not have the stamina for hiking yet, and they will need some conditioning to regulate their body temperature better. Similarly, older dogs or cats may no longer be up for long hikes due to the condition of their joints and lower stamina.   

On the other hand, small dogs and brachycephalic breeds such as Pugs, Boxers, and French Bulldogs are more at risk of heat stroke and exhaustion. Hiking may not be the best outdoor activity for them, but you can mitigate the risk by taking extra care of their needs. If you want to take them out, you should go at a slower pace, more water breaks, using a cooling vest, frequent rest periods, and cooler weather hikes. 

And to be sure about your pet’s fitness for a hike, consult with your veterinarian to check their health and overall well-being before taking them on the trail.

Train Your Dog

Before you had your first hike, you needed to build up your endurance and stamina for the long walk ahead. And just like you, your pooch needs to build muscle strength and stamina before a hike to prevent injury and soreness. 

Start with easy hikes on trails with a small incline for less than an hour. Monitor your pet’s energy levels during and after the hike. If they look exhausted, choose an easier trail or shorten your next hike before leveling up the time and difficulty. And while on the trail, follow your dog’s lead. If they stop and lay down to rest, let them and make sure to give them plenty of water. 

Prep the Paws for Hiking

Dog paw pads need to build up some toughness to prevent soreness or rips while hiking on different terrain. They may also burn their paws when walking on hot surfaces. Thus, you need to ensure that their paws are protected during your hikes. You can use some paw protection wax, especially if your pooch has sensitive paw pads. There are also dog booties that can provide excellent traction, insulation, and protection for hiking on colder weather. But of course, you need to prepare your pooch and train them to wear these booties as most of them find it hard to walk naturally the first time they start wearing it.  

Dog Carrier Backpacks

The best dog carrier backpacks can be beneficial for hiking with your pooch on some challenging trails. Carrying them at some point in the trail is necessary, and it will make things easier for both of you. Remind yourself that you have signed up for this outdoor activity and that you should expect these situations. 

On long hikes, your pooch can become distracted by the surroundings and start pulling on the leash. Likewise, if you have a small dog that you decided to take on a hike, a backpack carrier is a great gear to have when they get tired. Additionally, if you have an aging pooch whom you used to hike with, a carrier backpack makes it possible for them to join your outdoor adventures despite their age.

Vaccination and Preventatives

Consult with your veterinarian to update your dog’s vaccines and if they need additional shots for your planned hike in certain areas. Your vet can give your pet parasite preventatives to ensure that they are protected from ticks, fleas, and mosquitoes that may carry harmful pathogens.    


Hiking is an exhilarating activity that brings you closer to nature. Taking your pet on your trail adventures creates beautiful memories that you both with treasure. Make sure to prepare your pet for this strenuous activity before taking them out on a real hike. More so, read more about dog hiking etiquette and always put everyone’s safety on the top anything else. 


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