Hiking With Your Dog

Before hiking with your dog, ensure they are ready for the adventure. Be sure and check with your veterinarian. Your dog should be 12 months old before they go on a serious hike and some larger breed dogs should wait until 18 months because of their growth plates.

Tips for Hiking With Your Dog

  • Start small. You will have a good idea about your dog’s endurance, however, your first hike should be less than 3 miles.
  • Bring plenty of water and treats for your dog.
  • Carry Poop Bags and clean up after your dog.
  • Make sure you know trail etiquette.
  • Bring a first aid kit.
  • If hiking where it’s okay for your dog to be off leash make sure they have 100% recall.
  • Double-check if dogs are allowed on the trail you are planning to hike. A lot of National parks and California State parks don’t allow dogs on any unpaved trails.

Start Small

Before heading out on a big hike, take your dog on a few smaller hikes and see if they like it. Ideally, you should incorporate a little incline to see how they do. Things like the breed of dog and the weather can really affect their hike.

Bring Water & Treats

Dogs can overheat quickly on the trail even when the weather is mild so be sure and offer them plenty of water. Dogs don’t sweat like humans and panting is their way of cooling off. If the weather is warm offer your dog water every 15 minutes.

Pet Waste

People not cleaning up after their dogs is one of the reasons dogs are being banned from trails. Even worse than not cleaning up is when an owner bags poop and leaves it on the side of the trail. Bag your pet’s waste and dispose of it properly.

Trail Etiquette

Hikers going uphill have the right of way and should yield to hikers coming downhill. Everyone needs to yield for horses and mountain bikers need to yield for everyone. In a perfect world, your dog should scoot off the trail and let other hikers pass.

First Aid Kit

My first aid kit also has supplies for my dog in case I need them. I have Benadryl for a bee sting, gauze to wrap up a leg, and a pair of infant socks that I can duct tape to my dog’s leg in case she hurts a paw.


There are a lot of places in the Sierras that allow dogs to be off-leash, however, dogs need to be under voice command. This means your dog needs to have a really good recall. Fellow hikers don’t want your dog running up to them or jumping on them.

Tips for hiking with dogs: Jinx is wearing her cooling vest.

Is Your Location Dog-friendly?

Some states are more restrictive and depending on where you live there are different rules as to where your dog is allowed. I took my dogs to Death Valley National Park and the only place they were allowed to hike was on a 4-wheel drive truck road that was hot and had no shade. They would have been happier at home.

Always Ready to Hike

The best part of having a dog that likes to hike is I always have the perfect companion ready to go. With a little bit of training and planning your dog can be the perfect hiking companion too.

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