Hiking with a dog is an enjoyable activity for many active pet owners, but there are several additional things you must do to ensure you and your dog have a safe hike. Before taking a dog on a hike, it’s important to consider your pet’s fitness level and age to determine whether or not a hike might be too strenuous. Older dogs tire out faster, so long hikes may not be an option, and a puppy’s bone development may be adversely affected on hikes that require a lot of jumping. Further, your dog should be socialized and relatively non-reactive since you are likely to encounter other dogs, cyclists, or even horses while hiking.
On the actual hike, keeping dogs on a leash prevents the dog from running off and shows courtesy to other hikers who may be uncomfortable around unleashed dogs. However, there are some trails that allow dogs who are unleashed. If you plan on letting your dog off the leash, make sure he or she reliably comes back when called.
You will also need to bring plenty of water and some snacks for yourself and your dog. You can either carry everything on your own or share the load using a small pack designed for dogs. Make sure your dog tolerates the pack, however, before you venture out on a hike.