Preparing Your Dog For Hiking - The Trupanion Blog
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Preparing Your Dog For Hiking

For those pet owners who enjoy outdoor adventures, the fall is a great time to get out and go hiking. Spending time on the trail with your canine hiking buddy can be fun and rewarding, but it does require some important preparation.

Just like people, dogs need to be conditioned for extended exercise. Taking an inactive dog on a long hike over rough terrain is not advisable.

You probably wouldn’t try hiking or running a long race without some extensive training in the gym during the hot summer months, and your pet should be no different. Unfortunately, pets do not often get the same opportunity to do extended distance training, and many owners do not think to build up their buddy’s endurance.

Here are a few tips to consider before embarking on your adventure with your dog.

Clear Bill of Health
Having a veterinarian conduct a health check before any extended exercise is important. A heart, lung and joint check will help ensure your dog is ready for the trail.

Weight is also an important consideration. During hot months, an inactive dog may put on a few extra pounds. Providing a healthy measured diet like Natural Balance during the summer will keep you ahead of the game when Fall rolls around. This is especially important if your canine uses a doggy-pack to carry its own snacks and foldable water dish.

A daily walk around the block may not be enough to prepare your dog’s paw pads for an extended hike on rugged terrain. Slowly work your dog into distance. Start out with short trails and watch signs of sensitivity in the paws.

Your dog should have enough energy and endurance to easily hike the trail and return to the vehicle still excited to be outside. You don’t want the dog dragging itself back to the trailhead or limping due to sensitive paw pads. Carrying your dog five miles back to a trailhead can make for an unpleasant experience.

Obedience training
If your dog is new to hiking, obedience training is a must. Having your dog run off at the first sign of a critter in the woods can be disastrous. Being able to keep your dog on the trail is better for the wildlife and for your own stress levels. If your dog does not heel without a leash during daily walks then taking some obedience classes will not hurt.

Be Prepared
Preparation is crucial for a successful hike, so you’ll want to plan ahead for both you and your dog. Before you hit the trail, make sure you’ve packed a first aid kit (with tweezers and antibiotic ointment), an extra collar and leash, and plenty of water for both you and your dog. As long as you’ve prepared properly, hiking with your pet should be a breeze.

Vance Miller is a writer/blogger and an outdoor enthusiast. As a writer Vance says its the research and interview process that is the most rewarding. Vance currently is conducting digital media research on dog food with minimal ingredients, like Natural Balance, to reduce potential food allergies active dogs. Outdoor adventures are so much more fun with healthy, happy dogs.

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