Dogs are described as man’s best friend, and very few people would disagree with this. Many people are beginning to treat dogs more as children than just a regular house pet. This entails bringing them on adventures with them! When planning which activities you want to do with your pup, you may find yourself asking how far can a dog hike in a day?
Typically, dogs that are well trained and eased into a very active lifestyle can hike over 20 miles a day with little to no problem. In order to get your dog to this level, it’s important to start slow and when they’re young. Take baby steps and increase the activity level each day until they are hiking with ease. The average in-shape dog can conquer 5-10 miles at a time, but maybe not back-to-back days. If you are just looking to take your pup for an occasional hike, this is most likely the category they will fall into. However, there are a lot of other factors that go into how far your dog can travel at a time.
Both puppies and senior pups will on-average be unable to travel as far. Puppies can usually only walk for up to 40 minutes without getting tired and sore. While they may seem to have a whole bunch of puppy energy at every other time, hikes involve sharp inclines and constant movement. This, plus the weather, will be harder on your puppy than them chasing around a toy in the living room.
Senior dogs may have brittle bones and achy joints. These will both factor into how far they can comfortably travel. Many senior dogs can’t make it a mile or more. It’s important to also factor their activity level throughout the earlier years of their lives. When younger, if they were consistently active, they may still have it in their golden years. However, if they have been stationary throughout their lives, that will only be enhanced in their old age.
Dogs that are overweight or malnourished won’t be as durable as healthy, in-shape dogs. Overweight dogs will have a lot of pressure on their bones and joints that will slow them down and cause them to be in physical pain. On top of this, it may be harder for them to breathe on the walk due to lower lung capacity.
Overweight dogs can have many similar problems to senior dogs, the two factors often overlapping. In order to reduce the discomfort of your pup on a hike, take them for small walks to start, getting them more comfortable with it as well as helping them get in better shape. A diet will also help. Avoid foods high in fillers and feed them smaller rations. Also avoid feeding them table scraps, as hard as it may be.
Malnourished dogs simply don’t have the energy to keep up on a hike. They’re small and easily fatigued due to not having enough nourishment. This could cause them easy exhaustion and they may go as far as to collapse early into the hike. To help them, feed them a diet higher in calories until they are at the desired weight. Then, maintain their weight by putting them on a consistent diet. Also, take them for short walks when possible in order to see how they are improving. The more weight they put on, the more active they should be.
Certain health issues may cause a dog to be unable to hike as far as the average pup. Arthritis, hip dysplasia, and even allergies may cut hike time down for certain dogs. These conditions may cause extreme discomfort if your pup is walking for too long. It is recommended to take your dog to the vet for a full checkup yearly in order to help maintain their health and prevent any health condition that can be caught early enough. Your vet can also help you estimate how long your pup can endure a hike and give you advice on how to make their endurance higher.
Certain dog breeds are made for hiking. Labs and collies, when in good shape, can seemingly travel around forever. Smaller dog breeds have smaller legs, therefore, exude more energy in each step. This causes them to have less durability than bigger dog breeds. Bigger dogs often are able to make bigger strides and travel around with much more ease. The climate of the area may also impact dog breeds. Huskies and Bernese mountain dogs may not conquer nearly as much terrain in warmer climates than they would in places that are cold and snowy.
Other Things to Remember
Dogs aren’t self-sufficient like people are. They will love hiking with you but you are going to have to ensure that they are given proper care during the adventure. They may get fatigued or dehydrated. To prevent these things, make sure to pack your bag with snacks and water for not just you but your pup as well. It’s recommended to bring high-calorie treats or snack bars for your dog as this will give them the energy they need to comfortably make it through the hike. Also, stop to give them water anytime you think they may need it. Signs of fatigue and dehydration include excessive panting, dry nose and eyes, and reduced energy.
Knowing these signs will help you anticipate their needs, making them a happier pup for the entirety of the hike. Also, make sure you have protective measures for their paws if needed. Dog paws are extremely sensitive. Depending on the type of trail you’re on, it may be more dangerous for your pup. Pavement holds on to heat like no other, and though it may not feel that extreme to humans, it is extremely dangerous to dog paws. The cold can also cause blisters and cracks in their soft pads. To avoid this, know the conditions of the trail you’ll be on. Also, bring little booties. These will protect their paws and help them to avoid injury.
So, How Far Can a Dog Hike in a Day?
While dogs always seem to have endless energy and high spirits, it’s important to understand that hikes are different from the typical household play. Every dog is different, and there are plenty of important factors when estimating how far your dog can hike in a day. Knowing your dog will help you decide how long they’ll be able to hike, which will help you pick out the best trails for you two to go on! And remember to take tons of pictures of your fuzzy friends on your hikes!
Written by Alissa Buckley