What Your Dog Needs For a Hike
If you're anything like us, going out for a day hike is one of the most enjoyable ways to spend time with your dog. We like to pack some water, a few snacks (for people and dogs), and then head out to the trail.
In Central PA where we live, we luckily have many state parks and hiking trails. We do have a couple of favorite hikes, but we like to sometimes venture out and explore new areas too.
Most places in the USA have nice hiking trails near you, so be sure to look it up if you can't think of any places off the top of your head. Unless you truly live in the middle of no-where, then there are bound to be well-blazed trails around you!
Does Your Dog Need Exercise?
Most people who have dogs will take they outside regularly. Alot of this depends on the type of breed you have - small breeds can get much of their exercise by just running around the house, with a few bathroom breaks throughout the day.
On the otherhand, medium to larger breed dogs do not do well if they don't have 30 min - 1 hr of exercise per day. Just like us humans, dogs bodies' aren't built to sit around all day.
We will talk about ways to help make sure your dog gets an ample amount of exercise - and make it fun for you as well! We'll mention safety when it comes to this as well - more on that later!
What happens if your dog doesn't exercise enough?
Lack of exercise, depending on the breed, can cause any number of health issues.
In a more short term period, not enough movement can lead to your dog being constipated when it comes to potty breaks. If your dog is constipated, he or she won't be able to go when when you give them the chance most times. This can lead to accidents in the house when your dog simply can't hold it anymore. Usually when your pet is having constipation issues, they likely won't go near their food bowl either. After all, no one can eat when they have a tummy ache.
Over a longer period, the effect of lack of exercise is definitely much worse. For certain breeds, it can lead to or worsen issues that the breed normally deals with over time. These are things like hip dysplasia, arthritis, and even organ failure in the worst cases. If you want your dog to live a long, happy, and healthy life, you NEED to give them ample amount of exercise.
Another issue that can be seen in both short term and long term cases is that lack of activity (such as exercise) can lead to destructive behaviors. This would be things like getting in the trash, ripping up shoes, or even excessive barking. Most dogs are full of energy - and going outside is the perfect outlet for it!
Our Dogs Depend on Us
Dogs depend on us to provide for them, and it is a big responsibility. For us, most dogs are like children. They can't feed themselves, be outside on their own, and generally need guidance.
By letting your dog outside, you are allowing it to smell the smells, see the sights, and generally just do the things it wants to do! Dogs need the stimulation that being outside gives them. It's in their DNA, after all. Physically, it gets their blood flowing - this helps with all the issues mentioned above that result from a lack of exercise.
Mentally, the animal gets to experience new things and has an outlet for its energy. So when you do come back inside, your dog won't (usually) be bouncing off the walls!
What to Take on a Hike with a Dog?
Along with the supplies we like to take for ourselves, your dog also needs a few things. Hiking can be strenous, so we always make sure to pack enough water for every person who is with us, AND our dog(s). Dogs need water just as much as people, especially on a hike that can last 1-2 hrs, or more. Also, we like to pack some treats or a portion of food for our dogs.
They don't neccesarily need or want a full meal during a hike - usually water and a little snack is enough to keep them going. But what should you take to make sure your dog is safe? Here is a checklist of what you absolutely need.
Feel free to take anything else, but these are the things that we find our dogs can't hike without.
- Water and a Small Snack
- A durable collar, with a name tag that has your phone number and name
- A durable leash (we prefer snap lead leashes for hikes)
- A bell that fits on their collar so you can hear them at all times (even when they are visible)
Pet Hiking Bells
Sometimes, depending on the area, we like to take out dogs off leash periodically when hiking. Usually, its when we get near water, or if we just want to let them explore for a few minutes before being called back and put on the leash again. Some areas require leashes at all times, so it is important to know the rules of the area you will be hiking in.
Either way, accidents can happen. Maybe you lost track of your dog for a minute, and he or she dove into the brush and you can't see them. If you don't have a bell on your dog's collar, you won't be able to hear them moving at all in most cases. So what are you supposed to do now? Besides wishing you had put a bell on your dogs collar and trying to shout for them to come back, there isn't much you can do. Dogs have a knack for getting in to hard to reach areas.
That's why we always make sure to put a bell on our dog's collar before going for a hike. If you lose sight of them for a minute, you will still be able to hear the jingle of the bell. At least this way, you will know where your dog is heading and can track him/her down.
You can have a look at our bells here: Pet Collar Bells
Another added benefit of using a bell is that it keeps potentially predators and other wild animals away from your dog. You don't want your dog coming face to face with a bear, which can happen if your dog is silently walking through the woods. But bears aren't the only threat - the pet bells we sell can help keep skunks, porcupines, and other less lethal animals away from your pet as well.