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1. Leash your dog-
This is arguably the most important part of hiking with a dog. Not only is this out of courtesy to other hikers and dogs, but it is to the local wildlife. In some areas near a trail, wild flowers, berries or plants may be trying to grow and could be damaged with dogs running off of the trail. It is also important to think of other hikers (both humans and dogs) that may be afraid of your furry friend. While leashing your dog may result in some tugging if they get excited, it is the most responsible thing a hiker with a dog can do out of respect for other hikers, dogs and the trail itself.
2. Please make sure your dog is up to date on all vaccinations-
Vaccines for canine parvovirus, distemper, canine hepatitis and rabies are considered core vaccines. Non-core vaccines are given depending on the dog’s exposure risk. These include vaccines against Bordetella bronchiseptica, Borrelia burgdorferi and Leptospira bacteria. Having your dog up to date with these vaccinations is just an extra step of safety against the elements of the woods.
3. Check the weather ahead-
Dogs are vulnerable to the weather just like humans. Summers can be too hot to hike and winters can be too cold. Humans have the ability to add or remove layers but dogs are stuck with the coat they have on! Always keep an eye on your dogs behavior regarding the weather to better judge your hike.
4. Practice manners-
While you might be excited to meet dogs on the trails, not all dogs are excited to meet you! Please ask owners for permission to pet or greet their dog beforehand.
Remember to keep an up to date tag with owner information on your dog. An owner name, phone number and address will do the trick for a simple tag.
6. Be mindful of your pet-
Our dogs unfortunately do not have the ability to say "Hey mom I am tired can we turn around" when they have had enough of the trails, it is an owners responsibility to know when to end the day. Watch for excessive panting for signs of dehydration. Keep an eye out for any potential injuries. Help them through parts of the trail that may be rocky or steeper.
7. Always check for ticks-
Ticks are a huge problem in Upstate New York and can cause an immense amount of pain for a dog if one goes unnoticed. After a day in the woods, always check your dog for under their belly, inside their legs and around their neck. Ticks are smaller than Lincolns head on a penny but cause a HUGE problem.
8. Pack enough for everyone-
Be sure to pack more than enough water for your dog. Just like humans, dogs get hungry after a hike too so be sure to pack a snack. A first aid kit should be packed regardless of hiking with a dog or not. Make sure to pack dog treats as well, they need a reward for reaching the top!
9. Pick up after your dog-
This should go without saying, remember to bring a bag for pet waste. Let's keep the trails clean for everyone.
Click below or scroll to the bottom of this page for hiking tips and safety measures that are applicable to winter hiking.
•Know the signs of hypothermia and frostbite- signs of hypothermia in dogs may be faster breathing, rapid heart rate, cold to the touch, shivering, lack of mental awareness, trouble walking, cold ears or tail or constantly wanting to stop.
Protect the paws and body- Considering fitting your pup with booties or a jacket to keep them warm. They may seem silly at first but they serve a purpose of protecting your dogs pads from snow or ice which can cause extreme irritation.
Have a Plan B- Know how long your planned hike is going to be and how late you’re going to be out. With the sun setting faster in the winter months, hikers can be easily fooled on how much daylight they have. Know the current and forecasted weather conditions and be prepared for anything.
Keep the water flowing- Winter hiking can be exhausting if you get the honor of breaking the trail. Water is just as important in the winter as it is any other time of the year.
Have realistic expectations- Plan shorter hikes at first and understand your dog might not be ready for winter hiking. The mountains will still be there in the summer.
Pack a First-AID kit- Just like any other season, it is important to pack a first-aid kit for you and your dog as a safety measure.
Pack a blanket- When you get to the summit or wherever your destination might be on a hike, lay out of a blanket for your dog so they have somewhere to rest next to you. Human hikers might have the luxury of finding a log or using their backpack to relax.
Finding the right treats or snacks- With colder temperatures, your regular treats may freeze or be harder to chew for your dog. Know what goodies you’re packing and how they might react to a new environment.
Always double check the temperature before you take your dog out to hike. The mountains are not going anywhere, use your head. Just because the weather might not be hot for you, it could be hot for your dog!