Hiking is a great form of enrichment because there is so much to take in. All the sights and smells provide mental stimulation for your dog. Obviously as well, hiking is a great form of physical exercise. Depending on where you live you may have flat trails to choose from or even trails with many ups and downs to get you and your dog's heart rate going. Hiking for Kelly and I serves as a great way to just shut off our brains from all the day to day stuff that we deal with.
There are some rules to follow when hiking. Here in Ohio all of the trails that we know of have leash laws. Leash laws are in place for a reason. The biggest reason for us as dog owners is because a lot of us have dogs that do not enjoy the presence of all other dogs. Especially when approached in a very enthusiastic way. So it is nice to be able to hike with our dogs with the piece of mind that other dogs will not bombard us.
Another rule is to clean up your dog's waste. People really appreciate walking on a trail that isn't littered with dog feces. Okay, enough with the rules, let's move on.
What to bring
- Anti-pull gear (Front hook harness or Head Halter)
- Poop Bags
- Spray Shield
- Hiking boots really make a big difference
- Depending on where you're going you may want to bring some snacks
- Cell phone (put it away unless you're taking photos or have an emergency)
All of these things listed are important. Spray shield is something that we always carry just incase someone isn't following the rules and lets their off leash dog run up to our leashed dogs. (In general it is a bad idea to let your dog meet other dogs while on leash. This can create a lot of frustration and things can go south.) Anti-pull gear is super important. This can really make your hike enjoyable because your dog won't be yanking your arm off the entire time. If you're looking for ideas in this department we sell some at the training center. Hiking boots for us are really important too because we are going over different terrain which includes walking through streams. It feels good to have dry feet!
If you're new to hiking, try to find an easy trail to start. The CVNP for example has all the trails mapped out with the elevation changes and the distance. See if where you're planning on going has something similar. Be prepared to have some fun!