Shadow on the Trail

Warning cute animal photos and tips for hiking with dogs ahead…

Hiking with dogs can be incredibly fun and rewarding, but there are several important things to consider when bringing your pup along for an outdoor adventure.  Last week’s post on Planning your First Hike has a few quick reference tips, and I’ll include more information with these photos.

It’s important for your pup or pups to hydrate before each hike.  Shadow (right) is usually good about drinking water, but sometimes I use ice cubes to get her to drink up if she doesn’t seem interested in water.  My parent’s dog, Sophie (left), hikes with us sometimes too, and they both love getting their paws on the trail.



If your dog is new to hiking it’s a good idea to start with normal walks that are close to home.  Walking regularly with a pet is a good way for both of you to stay in shape and trail ready.





Once you are all ready for the next adventure you can load up and head to the trail.



Even when you’re all in shape a good nap might be needed after the hike.





Resting on the trail to enjoy a good view, hydrate, and snack is a good way to avoid the post hike crash for you and your pet.  Although, Shadow rarely lays down for a true rest.



Waterfalls and stream crossing are a temping area to let your dog quench their thirst, but parasites and other contaminates in the water can make your pet extremely sick.  Be sure to check with your vet to learn what protections their medications offer toward giardia (a parasitic intestinal illness) and other potential infections, and make sure you always have fresh water to offer them.  Providing them water is really the safest option, but sometimes it is hard to keep them from sipping while wading. 

In warmer temperatures, getting their paws and belly wet can really help them cool down.  We don’t hike with Shadow when it’s hot because it is difficult for her to stay cool due to a short snout and under-bite.  Make sure you know your pet’s limitations, and don’t push them too hard.  Also, be aware of the common pet injuries and illnesses and learn basic pet first-aid in case your dog faces these issues on the trail.  My knowledge of how to treat an overheating dog allowed me to cool Shadow down and get her out of the heat when she overheated two summers ago, and my vet said my actions could have saved her from heat stroke so I was grateful to be familiar with pet first-aid.


Dogs love to explore, so allow extra time for this on your hike.  Most importantly ALWAYS keep them on a leash for courtesy and safety.

A harness is also a great way to make sure your dog is better secured and more comfortable while hiking.  Shadow wears one on longer hikes and anywhere near rushing water, sinkholes, or drop offs.


If a trail is hard to follow or there are misleading social trails and rock cairns a dog can be helpful sniffing out the right path, but having them on a leash will help keep them on track if they’d rather follow a false trail.  Shadow got a little confused here by a rock cairn that was constructed as “trail art.”   Please always remember to Leave No Trace.


Following Leave No Trace principles doesn’t just mean not building rock cairns, it also means picking up after your pets on the trail.  Even if they go in the woods this is not part of the natural ecosystem, and you should bury or carry out your pet’s waste.

Shadow loves to hike, and she gives me kisses to let me know how much fun she has on the trail.  I hope you had fun seeing some of her adventures, and for more tips on hiking with your pet check out the links below:


Hiking Safety Tips for You and Your Dog at Huffington Post

5 Dangers That Hiking Dogs Face on the Trail – Backpacker

Hiking or Backpacking with Your Dog from the experts at REI

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