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Get Outside: 5 Tips for a Fun and Safe Hike with Your Dog

Tina Haupert blogs about fitness, nutrition and a healthy lifestyle on her blog Carrots 'N' Cake. Here are her essential tips for hiking with a dog.

The warm summer weather makes it easy for me to stay active, especially when it comes to outdoor activities and spending time with my dog, Murphy. Murphy is a 5-year old pug with a lot of energy to burn, which means we often enjoy outdoor adventures together.

When I take him for hikes, he enthusiastically traverses up the trails, pinging and ponging from side-to-side, sniffing everything and anything that crosses his path. His enthusiasm for the great outdoors is contagious (imagine if we all felt that way about exercise!) and makes me look forward to our time together.

Murphy and I always enjoy our hikes together, but before we head to the hills, I make sure to plan ahead. Even though many of his needs are similar to mine (i.e. food and water), there are a few others that are unique to my fuzzy friend.

That said, here are 5 things to keep in mind to help ensure that both you and your canine companion have a safe and enjoyable hiking experience!

Plan ahead

The first rule in having a great hike with your pup is being prepared and having a plan.

Check trail regulations and etiquette (if dogs need to be leashed, whether there are special dog-friendly trails, etc.) and try to find a map online, so you have an idea of what to expect with regard to terrain, elevation, and distance. That way, you can get a feel for whether the trail is really dog-friendly and a good option for you and your dog.

And, finally, be sure to check the weather forecast to make sure it isn't going to be too hot, cold, or rainy for your dog. Regardless of the weather, I like to keep a towel in my car to clean up muddy or dusty paws.

Pack lots of water

Dogs need lots of water to cool down since they can’t sweat like we do, so it’s important to pack a decent amount of water for your hike to keep both of you properly hydrated, especially if it’s a warm summer day.

Instead of lugging around your dog’s water bowl, consider a collapsible or a hand-held one. Both of these items are small and travel well, so it won’t take up a lot of space in your gear and it’ll make water stops quick and easy.

You’ll want to give your dog plenty of opportunities to drink to keep him well hydrated throughout the hike.

Pack snacks

Depending on the duration of your hike, you might want to pack some snacks to take with you. You’ll be exerting a lot of energy, so you want to make sure that you refuel.

Bring a bag of your dog’s favorite treats and some granola or trail mix for you. Better yet, consider packing snacks that do double duty by feeding both you and your dog, such as turkey jerky, baby carrots, apple slices, and packets of all-natural peanut butter.

You’ll end up packing less and snack time with your four-legged friend is guaranteed to be a lot of fun!

Rest up the day before

Hiking is a great form of exercise, but it can also take a lot out of you, so you can imagine how exerting it can be for your dog. The day before your hike, make sure your dog gets plenty of rest, so he is prepared for your upcoming outdoor adventure.

 Also, avoid hiking during the hottest part of the day and take frequent breaks on the trail, so your dog can rest or drink some water.

Bring your cell phone

A long, peaceful hike in nature might seem like the perfect opportunity to escape the demands of your cell phone, but it’s good idea to bring it along with you just in case of an emergency. Plus, you can always access a map of the trail from your cell phone if you need it!

And, of course, having access to a camera on your phone is a great way to capture special memories with your favorite furry friend from the day!

Do you go hiking with your dogs? What are some of the ways you make your adventure enjoyable and safe? Let me know in the comments below.