Hiking with a friend is one of the more enjoyable activities for those who relish exploring nature. Many travelers schedule their trips to national and state parks around available hikes. For most outdoor lovers, even an impromptu excursion on a local trail is a stress-relieving exercise. Those of us with canines are always looking for dog friendly hikes, as we’d like to include them in our outings.
But where can we find trails that welcome dogs and those that are acceptable for their hiking abilities? Look below for several resources to help you discover new hiking experiences to share with your pet. Let’s dive in!
Is It Good for Dogs to Go on Hikes?
Unless your pet has a health condition that doesn’t allow them to hike, most dogs enjoy exploring, whether on a walk through the neighborhood or a hike. The only reasons a dog wouldn’t be able to hike are (1) if the land owner doesn’t allow dogs on particular hiking trails or (2) the dog doesn’t have the stamina (or long legs) for a long hike. Otherwise, a hike with your pet is almost always an excellent source of enjoyment.
Where Are the Best Places to Walk Your Dog?
Most dog owners have a habit of walking their buddies along the same route every day, allowing them to get a little exercise and do their business. However, looking at walks from a dog’s perspective, you may want to change the route frequently.
This will allow your canine to encounter new smells and new scenery. Remember, a dog’s sense of smell is 300 times greater than a human’s. Can you imagine how bored they must be with smelling the same old things every day? Why not make your walks more stimulating for both of you?
Good places to hike with your dog include areas that are safe and free from distraction. Busy roadways or locations fraught with wildlife or other domestic animals could cause your pet distress. They may chase a squirrel or provoke the neighbor’s dog into a bark fest. These distractions could also make it more challenging to control them on a leash. You might even get ticketed for your dog chasing wildlife.
That is why most national parks do not allow pets on their hiking trails. The preserves protect wildlife and flora, and even the best pets can break leashes and run after an elk or deer. So know where you can and cannot take your pup.
What Makes a Trail Dog Friendly?
Dog-friendly hikes are different for every breed. A four-pound Chihuahua can’t hike as long as a 45-pound husky, and the Chihuahua may only walk for a short distance in the shade. Also, a dog that hasn’t been very active needs to work up to extended hikes over time, just like a human athlete.
A better way to judge if a trail is dog friendly is to assess a few parameters. Note the length of the hike out and back. Is your pet ready for that distance? Check the altitude you gain during the trek. Can they handle steep terrain? The surface of the trail is also a concern. Is it highly slippery or rough? Additionally, factor shade or rest areas along the route.
Pro Tip: Keep your pup’s paws safe by using one of these 5 Best Dog Hiking Boots and When Your Dog Should Wear Them.
Are Dogs Allowed on Any Trail?
Some trails are off-limits to dogs, and that rule exists for numerous reasons. The most frustrating is because pet owners don’t actively pick up after their dogs, so some property owners that once allowed hiking with your dog had to overrule their permissions. Those hikers ruined the trail for other dog owners by not taking responsibility for their pets.
The National Park Service has outlawed pets on most trails in their national parks and monuments for a different reason. They protect native wildlife and plants, and dogs on a hike have a natural tendency to scare, chase, or attack some wild animals.
To preserve the animals that live in these parks, most units disallow pets from virtually all aspects of their property. There are some national destinations, however, that have trails set aside for dogs and their owners to explore. The best way to discover which parks allow pets is to check with a ranger or look at their website.
How Do I Find the Best Dog Friendly Hikes Near Me?
There are many ways to find dog friendly hikes near you. We’ve listed four here, but there are numerous organizations and websites specializing in finding places where you and your pet can spend time together outdoors.
If you know specific travel destinations, the best way to see if hikes are dog friendly will be to look up that location’s website or governing organization online. Most businesses realize that many of us travel with our pets, and they offer detailed rules with the amenities you might find at their site. The worst-case scenario is that there is no definitive rule against dogs, but they post a phone number to call and ask about your situation.
BringFido.com is a free website and app that lists over 500,000 locations where your pet is welcome. Look up specific destinations to find hotels, restaurants, events, hikes, and activities that are not only friendly to dogs but celebrate them!
A website for hiking, HikeWithYourDog.com, has trails by the state that allow your dog to explore with you. They also offer a database of beaches that are pet friendly and have several books and a blog with Doggie Dream Destinations. The only drawback is that the website takes time to search state-by-state and location-by-location rather than give you a search database function.
If you know where you are going, AllTrails.com can help you find dog friendly hikes near you. Type in the destination, and the massive database will provide hiking trails close to your location. The trail descriptions are specific, providing the length of the hike, its difficulty, and the time it might take to complete.
Pro Tip: Before you head out for your hike, make sure you pack these 10 Hiking Essentials You Should Never Hit the Trail Without.
How Do I Start Hiking With My Dog?
If your dog has not been on arduous hikes, it is best to start training them slowly. First, ensure they are obedient on a leash, as many trails only allow pets on a leash. Take your dog on short walks, increasing their length and difficulty as they gain ability.
Eventually, introduce dog backpacks if you want them to learn how to carry their water or supplies. At first, the packs should be empty, but you’ll gradually put a little weight on them until you have the total amount.
If your goal is lengthy hikes with your dog, carry proper equipment, including water, a bowl, food, and any comfort gear. Ensure they have identification in case you get separated. They should also have a good knowledge of commands to keep you both safe.
Pro Tip: Hiking with your furry friends is always fun, but not all national parks allow them on the trails. Find out which ones you can and cannot take your dogs to.
Hit the Trail With Your Furry Friend!
A walk with your dog can be the best part of any day. There is no reason to avoid exploring together if you know where to find dog friendly hikes. Use these resources to spend more time bonding with your dog. Give them the freedom to explore new and enticing destinations with you.
Seeking a relaxing beach day instead? We found The 7 Most Dog-Friendly Beaches in Florida.
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