Going on a hike can be a great way to spend your day! If you would love to bring your dog along to make it a family adventure then there are some things you will have to take into consideration.
Factors That Impact How Far A Dog Can Hike
If you have an active dog then they would be able to withstand a hike that is up to 20 miles in one day. But there are many things that can impact your dog’s hiking abilities such as age, breed, activity level, and overall health.
Your dog’s age will play a vital role in how long of a hike they can endure. Most vets recommend that you limit your walks to about two minutes per week of age. For example, if your dog is 20 weeks old then you may want to limit your walk to 40 minutes. After the first year of the dog’s life then you can start to add more time on their walks. After the second year that is when most dogs can last longer distances of up to ten to twenty miles.
Your dog’s breed will play a vital part in whether they are suited for long hikes. For example, if you have a small dog with short legs then they will not be able to hike as long as a larger dog with considerably longer legs.
There are many breeds that are better equipped for longer walks or hikes. These breeds include Labrador retrievers, border collies, Bernese mountain dogs, Siberian husky, and Alaskan malamute just to name a few. You need to work within your dog’s limitations and adjust your hikes to a distance that they can endure.
You need to consider your dog’s activity level when deciding how long of a hike they will be able to withstand. If your dog is usually laying around the house and not getting much exercise you cannot expect them to go on a long hike without getting exhausted. You need to slowly get your dog accustomed to the exercise. A great way to do this is by starting with short walks and adding more time as you progress.
Before deciding to take your dog on a long hike you need to take into consideration their overall health. If your dog has any preexisting health issues such as arthritis or hip dysplasia then a long hike may not be the best option for them. A hike for dogs with such preexisting conditions may be uncomfortable and you would want to get your vet’s recommendation before putting your dog through any unnecessary pain.
Tips for Training Your Dog for Long Hikes
There are many things to take into consideration before taking your dog on a long hike. There will be things you need to do in order to prepare them to tread such long distances. The following are some tips in order to make this a pleasant experience for both you and your pet!
You cannot rush your dog. You need to start slowly and build up their stamina before taking them on long hikes. It is suggested that you start with a two to five mile hike which will help your dog get used to traveling long distances. It is also recommended that you keep the path you chose very flat, no up hills or extreme terrain.
Increase Time Gradually
You need to increase your walk time gradually. You cannot start your dog on an hour walk if what they are used to regularly is an average of fifteen minutes. It is suggested that you talk lots of short walks during the week and then a long walk on the weekends to get your dog accustomed to walking long distances over time.
Everyone gets tired on a long walk and your dog is no exception. You should take a break about every twenty minutes when first starting out getting your dog accustomed to long walks. It is also suggested that if you are going on a long hike to plan for a lunch break in order to give your dog some time to re-energize.
Keep a Close Eye on Your Dog’s Energy
Since dogs cannot communicate when they have had enough it is important for you to keep a close eye on their energy level. When they start to show clear signs of weakness it may be too far into the hike and they may be in pain or need a break right away. Some things to watch out for during your walk is a change in energy, slower pace, panting, and loss of appetite. If you see any of these signs then it can be an indicator that it is time to take a short break and give your dog some water.
Vary the Terrain
Although it is recommended you start your dog walking on easy flat paths, after a while of gradually increasing your time and distance it is important for you to change the terrain. You need to get your dog adjusted to similar terrain in which you would like them to hike. You can start taking them over hills, around builders, or other obstacles that they may encounter on a regular hiking trail. Doing this will help your dog prepare for the conditions of a hike and help them gain experience before going on a long journey.
If you are an avid hiker, before getting a dog you should look into which breeds are the best hiking dogs so you can enjoy your passion with your pet!
Written by Erin Stanley