Here’s what to know before hiking with dogs, what to do on the trail and after-hike care for your dog, plus how to find dog-friendly hikes near you.
Mollie is an experienced hiker, despite having 4-inch legs. The Dachshund mix has been hitting the trails most of her life. “She will be going as hard at the end of a four-hour hike as the beginning,” Doug Gelbert says of his 4-year-old dog. “Of course, she will also be asleep in the back seat at the end before I can get the car started.” Mollie has lots of company. The Facebook group Hiking With Dogs, which Gelbert founded, has more than 32,000 members. “It’s a good place to see a lot of happy dogs,” says Gelbert, a Flat Rock, North Carolina, author who has published more than 20 guidebooks on hiking with dogs.
Indeed, a walk in the woods benefits canines and humans.
“Hiking and backpacking is a real quality-time bonding experience,” Linda Mullally says. A Carmel, California, resident and lifelong outdoor enthusiast, Mullally and her husband, David, have co-authored seven books on backpacking or hiking with dogs, with another due out this fall.
Exploring the backcountry with your dog can breed a new and deeper appreciation for nature. “It is a chance to observe the natural world through the dog’s senses,” Mullally says. “You notice plants and trees and birds that you would otherwise pass by. You pay more attention to the way a stream flows and what surrounds it. You soak up scenery at a slower pace every time you pause while your dog investigates a new smell.”
Read more on tips for hiking with your dog on Dogster.com>>