The following are tips we’ve learned through hiking with our dog. We’re not experts and are still learning each time we hit the trail.

Before You Hike

  1. If you regularly walk your dog every day, start off with short hikes to test your dog’s hiking abilities. This will also help you both condition for longer hikes.
  2. Research trails when possible to find out if dogs are allowed. In general, National Parks and California State Parks do not allow dogs on trails. National Forests, National Recreation Areas, and Los Angeles County Parks allow leashed dogs on most trails.
  3. Pick trails that suit your dog’s abilities and personality. If they don’t like to get wet, avoid trails with river crossings unless you can easily pick up and carry your dog across. If your dog is not a good jumper or climber, avoid trails that are less developed and rocky. If your dog doesn’t get along with strangers or other dogs, then consider not hiking at all!
  4. Use flea/tick medicine regularly.

During Your Hike

  1. Bring enough water for both yourself and your dog. A collapsible or small bowl is a necessity.
  2. Bring treats that are quick and easy for you to pull out and for your dog to snack on.
  3. Always carry a small compass, first aid kit, flashlight (or head lamp), and map of the trail you’re taking.
  4. Keep your dog leashed at all times. They can run into dangerous animals before you can keep them safe like rattlesnakes and coyotes. Most trails require that your dog is leashed. Don’t ruin it for fellow hikers who obey the rules.
  5. Bring plenty of extra plastic bags. You can never have too many!
  6. Always pick up your dog’s poop. Double bag it. Bring a small carabiner to attach bags to your day pack.
  7. If your dog is having trouble on a trail (too rocky, too wet, too tired), it’s time to turn around.
  8. Always watch your dog for signs of heat stroke, exhaustion, or injury. It’s best to avoid hiking during the heat of the day.
  9. If a particularly hot day consider not hiking. Dogs can overheat more easily than humans. Rest often in shady areas and give your dog plenty of opportunity to drink water throughout the hike.
  10. If hiking into the night, attach an LED light or glowstick to your dog’s collar.
  11. If all your dog wants to do is sit or lie down, rest until your dog is no longer panting. Consider turning around. Remember, your dog can’t tell you when he wants to quit.

After You Hike

  1. Leave a towel in your car to clean up yourself and your dog.
  2. Examine your dog completely for ticks.
  3. Check your dog’s paws for any cuts.
  4. Take a much needed nap together!

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