December 1, 2021
There’s nothing wrong with your traditional 6-foot leash.A change from a 6-ft to 15-ft leash could seem manageable to you but it’s a huge change for your dog. They learn to reach to shifts in your hands, weight, and tugs to indicate where they should go. Any training you do in an effort to make hiking go smoothly should go on for a few weeks before you get anywhere near the forest.
We leave the collar on when we hike along with the harness OR clip the dog tag to the harness if swapping one for the other.
They can be wonderful if your dog wanders out of earshot or for communicating with them silently and effectively over loud winds or rain – but unless you have your pup enrolled in a professional course with a remote collar, do not attempt this on your own as it can spook the dog and be counterproductive.
Making sure your skills are down pat is a critical safety measure when you explore new terrain.
Sniffing activates the olfactory center in a dog’s brain, makes them thinking extremely hard and releases a healthy dose of serotonin and dopamine. These are all positive things and workout your pup’s active mind. It can also be a little overwhelming if they have never experienced this environment before. As such, they can sometimes get overstimulated in less time than your normal walk.
A traditional walk around the block is a great staple in your dog’s routine. It offers enrichment and physical exercise and it does work the brain – just not as much as new challenges or spaces. Plus, they get accustomed to their everyday path so they almost go on auto-pilot apart from using their sniffer.
All of this is to explain why you should keep your woodland adventures on the shorter side at first and build upon them each time you go. Start with 20-25 minutes and add 10-minute increments from there to avoid overwhelming your pooch.
All family members and friends (furry ones included) should stay together when hiking and never be out of eyesight from one another. In large groups this can pose a challenge so using the buddy system works too. It helps for everyone to have a physical print out of the trail if possible just in case cell service is spotting along the way.
Regardless of what you pack for a 15 minute or 45-minute hike – always, always, bring a water bottle with clean, fresh, drinking water and a collapsible dog bowl for your dog. Getting dehydrated happens quicker than you might thing – particularly in colder months when you sweat less and may underestimate how many calories you’ve burned or how much you’re sweating.
If you’ve been hiking for one day or years, always reward your dog immensely when they perform their recall command well. It is the cornerstone of safety in new situations and constant encouragement means continuous praise in our book.
It might seem like a lot of advice or rules but most of it is second-nature. Stick to what you know, see your group, and bring lots of water – and oh yeah, have fun! Dogs love the wild and whether it’s a small trail or a national park, getting a chance to explore makes them extra happy. Refuel your bodies regularly and get out there. Happy exploring!