Hiking with your dog is a great thing to do for both them and you! From your dog’s perspective it can be so much fun to go out in the woods…so many smells, people to admire them, and other dogs to visit. There are lots of things to consider before lacing up those hiking boots and taking off.
First of all, hiking is great exercise for any dog, especially for dogs that are a bit overweight (hiking is much better than getting less food to eat!). It’s also good for large breed dogs because it helps keep muscles strong, so they don’t have as much trouble with joints when they get older. Plus, it’s a great way to expend a lot of the extra energy some dogs have.
Before you go hiking, make sure pets are allowed at the park you’re going to. Can you believe that some parks don’t allow dogs? Fortunately, most St. Louis County Parks and Missouri State Parks allow dogs to come hike all they want (as long as they are on a leash), but some Missouri Department of Conservation parks don’t allow dogs.
A few other things to think about before you head out….
- Make sure you bring water and some type of bowl. Your dogs are wearing fur coats all year and it can get hot during the summer…they can dehydrate easily with activity.
- Make sure you are current with flea and tick protection (hiking, woods, ticks, do yourself a favor and spray yourself also)
- If you’ve never been hiking before, start with a small trek and work your way up to a more adventurous one. I have such fond memories of taking an “unimproved trail” and having to poop in the woods. Your dog will appreciate the gradual introduction.
- Always stay on leash—there are unknown dangers in the woods (other animals, getting lost, or scaring other people, just to name a few). And, it is the rule pretty much everywhere. Some “dog experts” (sarcasm inserted) feel they are so fabulous they are above the rules because their dog has a “perfect recall”. Hmmmm… Don’t be that person.
- Make sure you pick up your dog poop…no one likes to step in it, smell it, have their dog eat it (yep, go back and read about Turd-Herding)
- Microchipping is best, but at least put an easy-to-read tag on your dog’s secure collar with name and contact number, just in case they get lost and can’t find their way.
With our warmer weather now here, it is the perfect time to bust out of your Covid isolation, toss the masks, and breathe in the fresh air with your dog! Here is a great article with some parks in the St. Louis area to consider tackling with your dog Dog-friendly hiking trails.
Janie founded 4-Legged Kids, Inc in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1997 and provides education through her PetBizHIVE podcast and her PetBizMBA membership and courses. She is a Certified Professional Animal Care Operator, Fear Free certified and a Certified Professional Pet Sitter. Learn more about the Founder, Janie Budnick.