How to Hike With Your Dog

Good afternoon, Ferals!

I’ve been excited to write this blog for weeks – we actually ended up shooting a video to partner with this blog for the Trekitt Youtube page; check it out here. I LOVE taking Affy out into the hills but it occurred to me that people may not take as much care as they should when they’re out enjoying the countryside.

Below, I’ve listed what extras to pack, how to be mindful of your surroundings and how to look out for your 4-legged furry friends. Enjoy!

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What extras do you need to take in your pack?

  • Collar or a harness with a tag that shows your phone number and address (and a lead) //  In the UK you’re required by law to have all dogs microchipped, but a collar with a tag makes it much easier for a someone to just give you a call, should you become separated from your dog during your hike. You may find a harness is more beneficial on a hike though – it will help you assist your dog in getting over stiles and scrambling sections and also helps control your dog around livestock and wildlife.
  • Flat pack bowl // It’s important for your dog to stay properly hydrated on your hike – a flat-pack bowl like this one which is just a little one from Sea to Summit, doesn’t take up much room at all in your pack and is really handy. Remember to account for your dog when you’re filling up bottles and water bladders in the morning.
  • A mini first Aid Kit // Not just essential for you, but a lot of bits in there can be transferred to your dog if you need to – tweezers can help with thorns, grass seeds and bee stings, and a cut up old sock with some tape can be added in to make an impromptu tubi-grip.
  • Poop bags // Some places are okay with the ‘stick and flick’ rule but a lot of public places and trails require you to take your dog waste with you and dispose of it properly, so take spare bags just in case. If you’re worried about breaches in Poop Bags whilst carrying out, double bag and or carry in an old drybag. Outer pockets on bags are ideal to tuck this away in.
  • Piriton // Dogs eat things that they shouldn’t do ALL the time – Affy is particularly fond of Bees (great) so one thing I always carry with me is Piriton in case she decides to chomp on one. Please check with your vet about the exact dosage your dog can have.
  • Spare food and treats // A small bag of treats are always appreciated. If you’re out for an especially long hike it may be a good idea to take a ‘packed lunch’ for your dog – they need the energy too!
  • An old towel // I tend to keep mine in the car so I can towel her off after a long walk (she always ends up in puddles and rivers!).
  • A coat (and possibly little boots) for cold, snowy days // Our dogs get cold too, and it can get particularly bad on snowy days. Ice and snow build-up (which can be worst on long-haired dogs and dogs with webbed feet) on dogs’ paws and bellies causing ice balls. These ice balls can be very painful and distressing to your dog. There are loads of tips and tricks out there to keep this from happening, but the main two that come up are: Keep the fur between your dogs’ toes trimmed and before you go out, spray a bit of vegetable oil cooking spray underneath their feet (yes really). Then, when you get home, if you find some ice balls on their paws, simply melt them away with a hairdryer (on the lowest setting) or in some lukewarm water.

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Etiquette

  • Pick up after your dog // This is SO important. Some places (especially if you’re out in the middle of nowhere) don’t mind if you flick it into a bush with a stick, whereas others require you to pick it up and dispose of it properly. In this case, PLEASE DO NOT BE THAT PERSON who leaves biodegradable poop inside a non-biodegradable bag on the trail or in the car park. Take an old dry bag with you to stash double-bagged poops until you can dispose of them properly.
  • Keep your dog on a lead around livestock // It doesn’t matter if your dog is ‘a good boy’, it is an offence to allow your pet to bother any livestock. It’s always good practice (and a legal requirement on ‘open access’ land) to keep your dog on a short lead (and extendible lead does NOT count as a short lead) around farm animals and horses, for your own safety and for the welfare of the animals. A farmer may shoot a dog which is attacking or chasing farm animals without being liable to compensate the dog’s owner. In areas where your dog is allowed off the lead please ensure it does not stray off the path where you have right of access and be confident it will return to you promptly on command.
  • Be mindful of wildlife // to protect our local wildlife and your pet, it is important that wild animals do not become distressed. Be vigilant and respect any signage that requires you to keep your dog on a lead. The access rights that normally apply to open country and registered common land (known as ‘open access’ land) require dogs to be kept on a short lead between 1st March and 31st July to help protect ground nesting birds. At the coast, there may also be some local restrictions to require dogs to be kept on a short lead during the bird breeding season and to prevent disturbance to flocks of resting and feeding birds during other times of the year.
  • Speaking of wildlife // Long grass can be home to insects, parasites and adders – it’s important to check for ticks when you get home. Also, if your pooch is ever bitten by an adder, try not to let it move and consult a vet as soon as possible. Be vigilant with grass seeds and thorns – grass seeds can cause a lot of discomfort for your dog. They can be sharp and can become embedded in their skin, most commonly their paws, ears, tail, underarms and groin area. Vets recommend daily checking of your dog, especially after a walk and avoiding long grass when you do go out. In the summer, keep long-haired dogs trimmed and well groomed especially around their feet and ears. If you suspect a grass seed problem on any location on your dog, please contact your vet as these can be VERY hard to remove.
  • Respect other visitors // the hills and mountains are also home to other walkers, cyclists, runners, horse riders and other dogs – please respect other visitors by keeping your dog under close control.

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Things to keep in mind…

  • If the tables have turned and it’s farm animals chasing you and your dog, it’s often best to let the dog off the lead, they’ll get themselves out of trouble quick enough. Whereas if you pick them up you are more likely to get injured by the chasing animal.
  • Build dogs up to longer hikes. Especially when young. E.g. If you suddenly decide a 30km hike is a good idea, is your dog fit enough to be able to cope. Could you carry your collapsed dog out with you?
  • Be careful not to overdo it, they can’t tell you if they’re tired or injured. Keep an eye on breathing and heart rate, does the dog need time to catch its breath? Also, is it going too wild too quick, will it tire it’s self out in the first 5km of a 20km hike?

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That’s it for this weeks segment- if you think I’ve missed anything then leave me a comment below!

Have a fabulous weekend, Ferals!

H

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