Hiking with dogs is becoming more and more popular. In fact, the trend has been growing rapidly over the last few years.

Whether you are an experienced hiker or just starting out, it’s important to understand how to hike safely and responsibly with your hiking buddy.

This guide will provide you with all of the essential information you need to know about hiking with your pup in the US.

Before hitting the trails, it’s important to make sure both you and your dog are prepared, let’s begin!

Get the pup ready for the trail


You should make sure your dog is up to date on all of its vaccinations. This will ensure they are healthy and safe while out in the wild.

The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends that your dog receive vaccinations for rabies, distemper, parvovirus, and canine hepatitis.

You should also consider investing in a flea and tick preventative, as these parasites can be harmful to both you and your dog.

Immune system ready:

It’s important to talk to your vet about your dog’s immune system before venturing out on the trails. Since dogs are exposed to different bacteria, parasites, and other unknown creatures while outdoors, having a strong immune system is essential for their health.

Your vet can help you determine if your pup’s immune system is ready for the trail by providing a diet and supplementation plan that will help boost their immune system.

Trail Regulations for the dog

Each state in the US has different regulations for dogs on trails. It’s important to research these regulations before heading out with your dog.

For example, in some states, all dogs must be leashed at all times.

Additionally, some areas may require your dog to wear a GPS collar or tag so they can be tracked if they get lost. Be sure to check the trail rules and regulations of each trail before heading out with your dog.

Why “leave no trace” is important for hiking with dogs?

This means that any waste you and your dog produce should be disposed of properly to help preserve the natural environment.

Additionally, try to stay on existing or paved trails as much as possible and avoid trampling vegetation or disturbing any wildlife.

Following these guidelines will help keep both you and your dog safe, as well as ensure that future fellow hikers are able to enjoy the trail in its natural state.

Dog hiking essential equipment

The most essential equipment you’ll need for a successful hike with your pup includes:

  • A dog leash or harness vast
  • Water
  • Food and treats
  • Dog’s waste bags
  • ID tags
  • First-aid kit for dogs
  • Tick preventative

Depending on the climate, you may also need weather-appropriate clothing or accessories such as dog booties or a coat.

Having the right equipment will help ensure that both you and your dog are safe and comfortable during your hike.

How to use the dog pack correctly?

large dog with wearing dog pack

Using a dog’s pack is an excellent way to teach your dog independence, as well as help them learn how to carry their own weight. Dog packs are available in a variety of sizes and styles, depending on your dog’s individual needs.

When using the pack, it’s important to make sure it is correctly fitted to your dog. The pack should be snug, but not too tight. It should also evenly distribute the weight of the pack and should be centered on your dog’s back.

Once the pack is fitted correctly, it’s time to start loading it! Depending on the hike, you may want to include items such as food, water, and extra supplies (We’ll discover more later). Be sure not to overload your pup with too much weight, as this can cause fatigue and injury.

What to bring in the dog pack?

Once you have the correct size and fit for your dog, it’s time to start packing. Before heading out on the trail, make sure to include all of the necessary items that you and your dog will need during the hike.

Depending on the dog’s size and energy level, essential items include:

  • Water and food
  • Poop bags
  • First-aid kit for dog
  • Extra supplies such as a blanket, whistle, rope, collapsible bowl
  • A toy or chew stick
  • Any medications your dog may need
  • Safety light

Having these items on hand will help make sure that both you and your dog have an enjoyable, safe experience on the trail.

Food and water planning

It’s important to plan ahead and bring enough dog food and water for your dog. Depending on the temperature, amount of exercise, and size of your dog, they may need as much as one to two cups of food and 34 ounces (1 liter) of water for every two hours spent on the trail.

A good rule of thumb is to provide them with one ounce of water for every pound of body weight per day. For example, 50-pound larger dogs would need about 50 ounces of water per day.

If your dog is a picky eater or has specific dietary needs, consider bringing high-energy snacks such as dehydrated treats or trail mix. Additionally, if you’ll be away from a water source, consider bringing an extra bottle of water or a collapsible bowl to ensure your dog stays hydrated.

By following these essential tips and guidelines, you’ll be sure to have a successful hike with your dog.

Top 6 Trail hazards for the dog

dog drinking pound water

#1 Overdoing

It’s important to remember that dogs have much smaller legs than humans, and are therefore more prone to injury. This means they can tire quickly and should not be taken on hikes longer or more difficult than their individual fitness level allows.

Overdoing it can cause exhaustion, joint strain, dehydration, heatstroke, and even permanent damage. Be sure to pay close attention to your pup and watch for signs of fatigue or distress, such as excessive panting or slowing down.

Additionally, always be aware of any potential hazards on the trail that could put your dog in danger. Rocks, cliffs, cacti, sharp plants, and thorns can all injure a dog’s feet if navigated improperly.

Keep in mind that dogs can experience the same physical and mental fatigue as humans, so it’s important to take breaks throughout your hike to rest and refuel.

To ensure that your dog doesn’t overdo it, make sure to follow the 10% rule: no more than 10% of overall hiking time should be dedicated to walking. The other 90% should allow for ample rest, play, and exploring.

Lastly, make sure to bring plenty of water for both you and your dog, so that you can stay hydrated and refresh yourselves throughout the hike.

#2 Wildlife

Wildlife can also be a danger to your pup while on the trail. While most animals will try and avoid confrontation, it’s important to remember that some may not.

Snakes, for example, can bite or spray venom if threatened. Bears and mountain lions can also be a threat, they’ll show extremely aggressive behavior especially if they have cubs. It’s important to be aware of your surroundings and watch for signs that wildlife may be near, such as fresh tracks or droppings.

If you suspect that any wildlife is in the area, try and make yourself as big as possible (while still keeping your pup close) and make lots of noise to scare them away. Additionally, always keep your pup on a retractable or short leash and remain aware of the situation.

Finally, remember to never feed wild animals! Doing so can not only be dangerous for your pup, but it can also encourage wild animals to become dependent on humans for more food.

By following these guidelines, you can help ensure the safety of your pup during your hikes.

#3 Wild Plants

Yes, wild plants can be bad for dogs. Just like wildlife, some plants can cause harm to your pup if ingested. Common toxic plants include poison oak, poison ivy, and various types of mushrooms.

If your pup does ingest a poisonous plant, you should seek immediate medical attention. Additionally, watch for signs of distress, such as vomiting and excessive drooling.

To avoid any potential risks, it’s important to pay attention to the plants on the trail and keep your pup as far away from them as possible. This also includes making sure never off leash at all times to prevent them from running off and exploring the vegetation.

#4 Heat Stroke

Dogs can experience heat stroke, just like humans.

Heat stroke occurs when the dog’s body is unable to regulate its internal temperature, causing it to rise too high and become dangerous.

Symptoms of heat stroke in dogs include excessive panting, drooling, vomiting, confusion, and even seizures. If your pup is showing any of these signs, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.

Additionally, be sure to take breaks throughout your hike and provide plenty of water for both you and your pup to stay hydrated.

Lastly, never leave your pup in the car during hot days as this can lead to a rapid increase in temperature, putting them at risk for heat stroke.

#5 Waterborne Pathogens

Waterborne pathogens can be detected in a dog’s stool sample or blood test. These tests will look for the presence of bacteria, parasites, and other pathogens that can cause diarrhea and vomiting in dogs.

Other signs of waterborne illness include lethargy, fever, lack of appetite, and dehydration. If you suspect that your pup has ingested any contaminated water, it is important to seek veterinary care immediately.

Additionally, if you notice that your pup is drinking from a water source that may be contaminated, take them to a different spot or provide them with clean and safe drinking water.

#6 Neglect Water Safety

Unfortunately, many dog owners neglect water safety and do not take the necessary steps to ensure their pup’s safety when it comes to drinking water.

This can be especially true in areas where the water source is not well-maintained or water contamination is more likely to occur.

If you are taking your pup on a hike, it is important to ensure that any water sources are safe for them to drink from. Additionally, it is a good idea to bring along your own water sources, such as bottled water or a collapsible bowl. This will help prevent any waterborne illness.

Common mistakes when hiking with the dog

hiking with dogs

Dog Too Yong

One of the most common mistakes when hiking with dogs is taking them out at too young of an age. Puppies are not developed enough to handle the physical activity and extreme temperatures of a hike. Additionally, their immune systems is not yet strong enough to protect them from any potential waterborne illness.

It is recommended to wait until your pup is at least one year old before taking them out for their first hike. This will give their body enough time to develop and be in better shape to handle the rigors of a hike.

Additionally, if you do take them out before the age of one, start off slow with shorter hikes and bring plenty of water to keep them hydrated. This will help keep your pup healthy and safe.

So, when it comes to hiking with young or small dogs, safety should always be your number one priority.

Push Too Hard

Unfortunately, people often push their pups too hard when going on a day hikes. This can be due to a variety of factors, such as not paying attention to their pup’s physical condition or not providing enough breaks and water.

It is important to remember that all dogs are different and have varying needs when it comes to physical activity. If your pup is showing signs of fatigue, such as excessive panting or slowing down, it is important to take a break and provide them with water.

Not Enough Energy for Dog To Go Back

Another common mistake when dog hiking is not providing them with enough energy to make it back. While your dog may be able to handle a long hike, it is important to pay attention to the dog’s stamina to make it all the way back.

This means providing them with high-energy snacks along the way, such as bananas or peanut butter. Additionally, you should plan for plenty of breaks throughout the hike to allow your dog to rest and replenish its energy.

Finally, if you are planning a long hike, it is important to plan for an alternate route in case your dog is too tired to continue. This will help ensure that you and your pup both make it back safely.

Forget to Check Potential Dog Injuries

Many dog owners fail to check for potential injuries when hiking with their dogs.

This can be due to the fact that dogs are often seen as tough and resilient animals when in reality they are just as prone to injury as any other animal.

It is important to keep an eye out for any potential injuries and take your dog to the vet if they do occur.

Not Enough Water for Dogs

Many dog owners forget to provide their dogs with enough water when going out on a hike.

Dogs need plenty of water to stay hydrated and keep their bodies cool during a hike. It is recommended to bring at least one liter of water per dog on each outing, with additional water sources if needed.

Additionally, it is a good idea to bring along some collapsible bowls to make sure your dog can always access the water when needed.

No Dog First Aid Kit

Many pet owners forget to bring along a dog first aid kit when they go on a hike.

A dog first aid kit should include items such as bandages, antiseptic wipes, tweezers, and vet wrap. These items can help in case of any small injuries or emergencies.

No Emergency Plan

It is also important to have an emergency plan in place when hiking with a dog.

This plan should include things such as what you will do in case of injury, how you will get your dog back to safety, and who to contact in case of an emergency.

No Tick Protection

Finally, many pet owners forget to provide their dogs with tick protection when out on the trails.

Ticks can carry illnesses such as lyme disease and parasites that can be dangerous for dogs, so it is important to use tick prevention products such as spot-on treatments or flea and tick collars.

Additionally, it is important to check for ticks after each trail hiking and carefully remove any that are found.

The Bottom Line

Kayaking with our cute pom

Hiking with your dog can be a fun and rewarding experience for both you and your dog. Just remember to always hike safely and responsibly by being prepared, packing the essentials, and being aware of your surroundings.

By following these simple tips, you and your furry friend will be able to enjoy much great hiking trip together.

Do you have any experience or stories when hiking with your dogs? Share them with us in the comments below!

Similar Posts