This weekend, mix things up a bit and head to the trails with your dog (just don’t forget mom on Sunday!). Discover the beauty of your local state parks and national forests, all while you watch your dog’s excitement in exploring new places. Just think how much he or she will love the change of scenery and all of the new scents that go along with it. And hiking is just not for athletic dogs (and people), you can find easy flat trails for all to enjoy.
To plan a hiking outing for you and pup, seek out dog-friendly trails at HikeWithYourDog.com. Search by state for listings of over 2,000 state parks, national forests and other areas in the U.S. and Canada that welcome dogs. You’ll even find reader suggestions categorized by state, and many more ideas on where to hike with your dog.
Also try regional hiking resources like Bay Area Hiker for the top dog-friendly spots in the San Francisco Bay Area, or Explorer Dog for the best hikes in Western Washington. If you prefer to join in with others and participate in groups hikes, visit the Sierra Club to see if your local chapter offers dog-friendly hikes or those specifically for dogs and their people, and search for dog-hiking clubs in your area (search online for something like: dog hiking and your city name). A few dog hiking clubs are listed in this post on WoofReport.com.
To make sure your furry hiking companion is prepared and stays safe on the trail, check out the quick list of pointers below, and find more tips here.
Before Your Hike
- Your dog should be fit and healthy so he or she can enjoy the outing.
- Ask your vet if you have any concerns about your pup’s health.
- Begin with shorter hikes and gradually increase the distance as your dog becomes more conditioned.
- Research the areas you’re visiting to be sure that dogs are allowed on the trails.
- Ensure your dog is wearing his or her ID tags, and that the information on them is current.
- Be sure your dog’s vaccinations are up to date and toenails are trimmed.
- Don’t feed your dog right before (or during) a hike to avoid an upset stomach. A few treats are fine.
- Make sure the weather is mild so your dog won’t get overheated in particularly sunny or humid weather.
- Pack plenty of water, a bowl from which your dog can drink, poop bags and a dog first-aid kit (see what to include in the first aid kit).
On the Trail
- Keep your dog on a leash to keep him or her safe and away from other hikers.
- Watch the terrain to be sure it’s not too rocky or rough so your pup’s footpads aren’t injured.
- Provide water for your dog often so he or she stays hydrated and maintains energy.
- After the hike, check your dog for ticks, fleas and foxtails.
- Have fun!
In addition to the resources mentioned above, here are a few organizations that offer great outings. Please feel free to add other dog hiking resources in the comments section!
Arizona (various cities): The Canine Hiking Club of Arizona has members in all cities across the state. Join and access their message boards to find and plan hikes and other outdoor activities.
Baltimore/Washington D.C. areas: The K9 Trailblazers dog hiking club in the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area organizes monthly, leashed hikes on dog-friendly trails in the area.
Honolulu: The Hawaiian Humane Society’s Paws on the Path hiking club explores Oahu’s beautiful trails with volunteer-led hikes on the last Saturday of every month.
Los Angeles: The California Canine Hikers organizes a variety of day and evening hikes in the Los Angeles County foothills and mountains.
Greater New York City/New Jersey areas: The Harriman Park Hiking group organizes weekly dog hikes and other hiking outings in the Appalachian Trail, Sterling Forest, Hewitt, Ringwood, Ramapo and other nearby parks.