Hiking through the wilderness is exhilarating and worthwhile, especially when accompanied by your four-legged companion. Many dogs enjoy long runs outside, away from the city. As a result, if you plan to go on a hike, bring your dog along to give them some exercise.
Hiking with a hyperactive dog, on the other hand, is a different story. Anxious puppies can be difficult to manage on hikes. This is especially true if they come across other people, dogs, or wild animals along the way. Despite the difficulties, hiking with your anxious dog is not impossible. It simply takes a lot of planning, patience, and understanding.
If you want to bring your reactive pooch on your next hike, consider the following tips for a stress-free experience:
Stock up on equipment
As a hiker, you invest in good hiking shoes and clothing, and you should do the same for your dog. A collar, harness, and leash will keep your dog safe on all walks and prevent them from running off unexpectedly. Harnesses, in particular, are ideal for providing comfort to a hyperactive dog. As a result, you should look for high-quality dog equipment and avoid the low-cost options available at many pet stores.
When shopping for reactive dog wearables, make sure it’s the right size: not too big or too small. Hiking should be possible with a harness designed for intense physical activity, such as canicross. It should be able to withstand the tug and pull of larger dogs, in particular, and last for an extended period of time.
Many reputable dog gear stores sell appropriate collars, leashes, and harnesses for canicross and other high-octane canine activities. Look for those that include a measurement chart for each product. Always double-check all pertinent information before allowing your reactive dog to wear something comfortable and secure on your hikes together.
Understand Your Dog’s Triggers
A dog owner must understand what causes their anxious pet to become anxious. It differs for each dog, just as it does for humans. Here are some of the most common dog triggers as a quick reference:
Other canines or animals
Noises that are audible
Automobiles or bicycles
If you’re aware that your dog suffers from anxiety but aren’t sure what causes it, take them on a regular walk around the neighborhood and observe. Staying at home can sometimes result in triggers. When you notice any of the following symptoms in your dog, you’ll know he’s having an anxiety attack:
trembling and shivering
Excessive whining or barking
Prepare for those triggers to appear while on the hike. If possible, choose a hiking trail that is rarely used by other hikers. If you can’t avoid it, try to keep yourself and your dog as far away from the trigger as possible. Depending on your dog’s training, you can also use counter-conditioning to help your dog desensitize to the stimuli.
Hiking with your anxious dog can also be enjoyable if you play familiar games with them. While on the trail, play fetch with their favorite toy or perform basic obedience tricks with them. It will make your dog less anxious about being somewhere new and teach him that not all places are scary.
Bring Some Desserts
All dogs enjoy treats. Aside from bringing enough water for your dog to the hiking trail, don’t forget to bring snacks for your canine companion. It makes no difference whether it’s a homemade or store-bought treat. It will keep them from getting too hungry on the hike and will distract them from any potential triggers they may encounter. You could even use treats to reward your dog for remaining calm.
Make sure to only give your dog a treat if they behave properly. That means no treats if they have a bad reaction or do something unfavorable on the hike. This teaches your dog that even if their triggers affect them, they will receive a treat if they act calmly or focus on you rather than the stimuli.
Take a break if your dog is overtired.
While on the hike, check in on your dog to see how they’re doing. Dogs, like humans, can become physically and emotionally exhausted. So, if you notice them acting strangely even a few minutes into the hike, it’s best to take a break.
Never force your dog to continue hiking with you if they are exhausted. After all, you wouldn’t want others to treat you the same way. Your dog’s well-being is also important. And it never hurts to return home after a good hike. Even if you’ve only been hiking for a few minutes, you should be aware that your dog may no longer enjoy it.
Relax and unwind
De-stressing is essential after hiking with your dog. Exploring new places can be mentally taxing for a reactive dog, so allow them to unwind as soon as you get home. Allow your dog to rest for a few hours without any stimulation, extra activities, or, most importantly, visitors.
Make sure your dog has a safe and comfortable place to sleep. After a long day on the trail, you need your four-legged companion to relax. After all, you’d want to sleep after a long day at work or school, right?
Hiking with a fearful dog is not impossible. Find ways to have fun with your pet without jeopardizing their mental health if you truly love and understand them. It takes time and patience, but your dog will eventually figure it out. They may eventually become excited about their next hiking trip with you.