Camping provides opportunity for exercise, great views, and fresh air, but why should you enjoy all the benefits while your canine patiently waits for you at home? Camping can be enjoyed by your best friend too, so here is a number of ideas to ensure your dog remains happy and healthy whether you’re enjoying a brief waltz through the woods or trudging through the outback for a longer hike.
Obey the Law
You teach your dog to obey and the proper authorities expect you do the same when taking your canine hiking. Check online to ensure dogs are allowed on particular trailways. For example, most national parks do not allow hikers to take their dogs.
However, if your animal is allowed, mind the peace of mind and enjoyment of others. Not all hikers are dog lovers, so keep your dog on a leash and be sure it’s well behaved as you pass others on the trail.
Condition the Animal
Perhaps your dog is physically fit and immediately ready for longer hikes, but if you’re not sure, be cautious. Start small, allowing your dog to get fit enough to enjoy longer hikes. If you want your friend to share some of the load, use the same philosophy; take them on brief walks while carrying a pack. Slowly increase the weight of the load until the dog is comfortable carrying the added weight.
Unfortunately, due to age or certain medical conditions, certain breeds and dogs cannot perform well on longer or even shorter hikes. Don’t put your friend in a bad situation or push them if their bodies don’t have the strength to abide your intentions.
Learn about first-aid needs of dogs (and humans for that matter!) You can never predict what may happen, and if you’re visiting an unfamiliar place, there’s always a chance that an injury may occur. Search the Red Cross website for tips related to hiking and animal safety. You’ll have the knowledge to help members of your own party in addition to lending a hand or advice to others in need.
Bring Food and Water
Humans need to remain hydrated while exercising and the same is true for dogs. Daypacks are available for hikers along with dog packs that feature a hydration system for easy access to water. Athletes consume energy bars to replenish their bodies during strenuous activities but check with your veterinarian regarding how your dog should compensate for lost energy and burned calories on the journey.
Pack Enough Gear
Some daytime treks turn into overnight stays. Like food, water, and first-aid, be sure to bring along enough gear to keep your canine comfortable during an overnight stay. Consider buying a 2-person sleeping bag so your friend can cuddle with you during the night, feeling warm as well as secure in a foreign place.
Aside from a sleeping bag, manufacturers offer thin coats and vests for dogs. A special outer layer preserves body heat, so they stay toasty even in wet, cold conditions. Especially if there are wet leaves or snow on the ground, your friend can benefit from having their underside protected.
Thirsty dogs are not wise about what they drink, so it’s your job to protect your friend from potential harm and sickness. Keep plenty of fresh water on your person and bring along a clean bowl. Visit berkeywaterfilterinfo.com for additional ideas and products. Have your dog drink plenty of fresh water, especially if digesting salt water, which dehydrates canines.
Consider the Extras
Perhaps dog boots seem immediately ridiculous yet doesn’t your dog deserve the best protection? Snow, twigs, and salt from icy conditions can irritate your dog’s feet, yet you can protect them with a pair of dog boots. Additionally, boots help grip icy walkways and rocky terrain.
Additionally, consider dog harnesses for climbing, GPS beacons in case they get lost, dog tents for overnight stays, cooling collars for exceptionally hot days, and creams that help soothe their feet in the snow.
Check at the End
At the end of your trip, look for signs of injury and insect bites. Contact your vet if you come upon a tick. A vet can help decide whether to detach it yourself or if it necessitates a trip to the doctor’s office. Some owners prefer to wash their pet with a medicated shampoo after a long or overnight hike.
Following the above advice helps keep your friend happy and safe during short or longer hikes, even overnight stays. Hiking and camping poses a wonderful opportunity for exercise and better health. Don’t deny your best friend the opportunity to share the experience with you.
Walter Adams is an American writer, blogger and travel journalist. As a journalist he has worked in news wire services, magazines, newspapers and radio. He has a B.S. in Languages and Linguistics, with a focus on Political Science from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. He has taught German and history in the Commonwealth of Virginia. He has worked in Latin America, Asia and Europe.