If you love your dog and love being active and outside, taking your pup hiking is about as good as it gets. As summer gets into full swing you may be just as likely to meet a four-legged fellow hiker on the trail as another person.
So what should you know first before hitting the trail? Know your dog, and know how prepared they are. The basic things to consider are their age, their level of fitness including weight, and their breed plays a role too, because some … like bulldogs, can be more sensitive to heat. That’s a concern not only for heat exhaustion and heat stroke, but breeds with “smushed-in faces,” like pugs and boxers, can have more trouble breathing in warmer temperatures.
Whatever the breed, if they’ve been lounging around in the AC all summer, they need time to acclimate to the heat (just like us), so your first jaunt shouldn’t be a full-day hard scramble. Work your way up to longer hikes over a period of time. Humans need seven to 14 days to get used to heat, so bring your pooch along as you’re working on your own heat tolerance.
A big decision is whether your dog’s going to be an on-leash hiker, or off. Depending on the terrain it can be cumbersome to have them on leash sometimes. But, and this is a huge but, your dog has to have a rock solid recall before you should dream of letting them go (and of course that’s even if dogs are allowed off leash where you’re hiking).