If you want to go hiking with your dog in the mountains, in the forest or on the coast, you have to choose the right route and be well prepared. You can find out how this works here.
If you want to take your dog to the mountains, explore the forests or hike along the coast, you need to prepare yourself and your pet well. Because a hike is exhausting. You should only hike your dog when he is
- is at least one year old.
- is healthy and fit.
- has a physique suitable for longer running distances.
- interested in hiking.
- Can run 15 to 20 kilometers without problems.
Here you can find out why your dog has to fulfill these points and how you can plan the right hiking tour for you and your dog.
Consider the dog’s age for hiking
Young dogs are only allowed to hike when they have completed the growth phase. Long hikes put too much strain on the young, growing joints. So your dog should be at least one year old. For large breeds, an age of 1.5 years is recommended.
Adult and senior dogs are allowed if they are fit. If your dog has joint problems such as elbow or hip dysplasia, or a cardiovascular disease, he must not hike.
Which dog breeds are suitable for hiking?
Not only the age, but also the physique decides whether a dog is suitable for hiking. Breeds that like to run, such as Labradors, Weimaraners or Dalmatians are just as suitable as herding and hunting dogs.
Short-legged breeds such as dachshunds, pugs or French bulldogs, on the other hand, are not allowed to hike for long periods of time. Medium-sized dogs can accompany you if they are in good physical condition.
Also consider individual preferences: Not every sporty Border Collie feels like hiking in the mountains. He may find another activity like agility much more enjoyable.
Which routes are suitable for dogs?
You can hike with your dog through the forest, up a mountain or along the coast. However, it is important that you always avoid narrow passages and via ferratas. These are too dangerous with the dog! When hiking in the mountains, you should consider both the altitude difference and the length of the route.
You should adapt the length of the hike to the condition of your dog. Your dog should be able to easily hike 15 to 20 kilometers to master easy distances. Dogs don’t mind steep and rocky paths, but be careful not to injure your animal. If you observe these points, your dog will not overexert himself.
Caution! If the dog keeps panting, slows down or even stops, it is too weak. Take a break. Even if your dog runs out of drinking water, you must end the hike as soon as possible.
How to find the right tour
If you want to hike with your dog, the route must suit you and your dog. Be sure to consider these three factors to find an ideal hike.
1. Start slowly
To start with, choose a route that you can both easily master. Increase the difficulty slowly. If the hike is too strenuous, you and your dog will lose interest in it.
2. Get detailed information
Study the route on the map and find out more online. Are there via Ferrata passages? Are there cabins along the way? Are there water sources to fill up your bottles? Find out where the nearest veterinary clinic is to be prepared in the event of an emergency. Also check whether dogs are allowed in the huts.
Tip: It is often wiser to book a single room with the dog. If he feels unsafe in the area and if he gets restless, he won’t disturb the other hikers.
3. Note the season
Adjust the hiking route to the season. In summer you should only choose shady paths if you want to hike with the dog. Most tours are suitable for spring and autumn.
Prepare dog for hikes
It is important that the dog is fit enough to hike. That’s why you should go for long walks with him before the hike to build up his condition. The basic commands have to be right. The dog should
- will reliably return to you when called off-leash.
- run reliably alongside and behind you when the paths get a bit narrow.
- can also be lifted up in an emergency in order to cross obstacles.
The dog can improve its sure-footedness by gradually getting used to more difficult routes. Teach him to cross obstacles such as lying logs or small rocks. Also, prepare him for encounters with cows and other animals to avoid conflicts during the hike.
Rocky paths can be dangerous for dog paws. You should therefore get your dog used to dog shoes before hiking, which will protect them from injuries.
Important: Feed your dog at least two hours before the hike for the last time to avoid a dangerous torsion of the stomach!
The right hiking gear for you and your dog
Of course, if you want to hike safely, you need the right equipment. You should definitely have the following with you:
- sturdy and comfortable shoes
- rain jacket
- hiking backpack
- First aid kit for you and your dog (disinfectant spray, bandages, tick tweezers, tweezers, gloves, any medication you may need, telephone number for the mountain rescue service, and the nearest veterinary clinic)
- Flashlight and headlamp
- water and snack
For your dog you should definitely think of this hiking equipment:
- Dog backpack (only for large dogs and fill with a maximum of 20 percent of the dog’s body weight)
- Dog shoes (on rocky paths)
- Dog harness with handle on the back to hold and support the dog
- Luminous collar to see the dog even in the dark
- lightweight travel dog bed that the dog is already used to
- foldable bowls for food and water
- sufficient dry food and water
- adjustable dog leash
- spare line
When hiking, you should only offer dry food: it is lighter and lasts longer than wet food. Barfrs and those who feed wet food should switch to a specific dry food prior to the hike.
When hiking with a dog, a towline should be avoided as it tends to get tangled. It is more comfortable to use shorter lines that you can fasten around your stomach to keep your hands free. As a precaution, you should loosen the leash in dangerous areas to avoid accidents.
If you want to hike abroad, you should also pay attention to the entry requirements for dogs. Find out whether a muzzle or leash is required. Don’t forget to take your dog’s vaccination card with you.
Exploring nature with your dog can be a lot of fun. However, you must create the right conditions for the hike to be a success. With these tips and tricks, you can start hiking with your dog.