How to Train Your Dog to Be a Hiking Companion? Here Are the Basics

Holding paw of dog
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Hiking is a wonderful way to clear your mind and take in the beauty of nature. But, what’s better than enjoying these moments with your furry four-legged companion?

If you’re someone who loves hiking and wants to take your dog along with you, then it’s essential to train your dog in advance. It’s not only about keeping your dog safe on the trails but also making sure that they are properly trained and comfortable with long walks in nature. Just like people, dogs need training to be more fit – as simple as that.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss some tips and tricks to help you train your dog for hiking and turn them into your ultimate hiking partner.

How to Train Your Dog to Be a Hiking Companion? Here Are the Basics

1. Start with Short Walks With a Dog

Before heading out for a long hike, start by taking your dog for short walks around the neighborhood or local park. This will help them build up their stamina and get used to walking on a leash. Gradually increase the length and difficulty of the routes to match a level that will be similar to a hiking trail.

Do it frequently. In all weather. It will prepare both of you.

The better you train, the easier it will be in the outdoors.

2. Improve Their Socialization Skills

Next, work on their socialization skills – they matter same as much.

As you take your dog on short walks, make sure to socialize them with other dogs and people. Socializing your dog will help them feel more comfortable on the trails, where they will cross paths with other hikers and their dogs. It will also help them learn how to behave around other dogs, how to approach other hikers, and avoid any conflicts on the trail.

Read more: Dog Hiking Etiquette

3. Teach Basic Commands

It’s a useful thing for every dog. Not only for hiking.

Basic commands like “sit”, “stay”, “come,” and “leave it” are essential when hiking with a dog. These commands will help you keep your dog’s attention when you face any danger, need to stop suddenly, or when encountering other hikers. Make sure you use positive reinforcement when teaching your dog, such as treats or praise, so they associate good behavior and commands with positivity.

4. Get the Right Dog Hiking Gear

The right gear can make all the difference.

Investing in a good quality collar or harness with a leash that matches the length of your hike is essential. A long hike will require a long leash to give your dog more freedom to explore. Bring poop bags, water, and enough food along the trails, as well.

You could also consider a dog hiking backpack – for your dog, not yourself. This way your buddy can carry all the essentials and lighten your load. But make sure they are comfortable with it before you embark on a long hike.

The better you train, the easier it will be in the outdoors.

5. Gradually Increase Hiking Time and Difficulty

Once your dog has been trained to comfortably walk on a leash and follow basic commands, it is time to gradually increase the length and difficulty level of your walks. You can try new routes or go higher in the mountains, and do hikes similar to the ones you have envisioned for the future (your goal at the moment).

Siberian Husky
Siberian Husky

Not All Dogs Are Fit For Hiking

Let’s not forget that not all dogs are fit for hiking.

While most dogs love to walk and explore, certain breeds have a natural inclination towards the outdoors. Breeds like huskies, border collies, and retrievers are examples of dogs that are excellent hiking companions. They are also significantly stronger than many others, an important thing when it comes to finding the best dog for hiking.

So, if you love to hike a lot, and are still looking for a dog make sure to take this into account. When it comes to hiking, it’s essential to choose a breed that is built for endurance, has a good temperament and personality for hiking, and is comfortable with exploration in new environments.

Consider Your Dog’s Physical Capabilities and Age

If your dog is a senior pet or has health issues, it’s best to opt for easy trails, shorter hikes, or simply stick to walks around the park. Also, don’t expect a senior pet that has spent the life at home to be the best hiking buddy all of a sudden – it may not work out at all.

Your Dog Could Be Your Ultimate Companion… With the Right Amount of Training

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or someone who’s looking to get into hiking, your dog could be your ultimate companion. By following the tips mentioned above, you can enjoy long hikes in nature with a trained and well-prepared dog. This means getting to see new trails, with your best friend by your side, experiencing the great outdoors in a completely new way.

Just remember, training a dog takes patience and time, but the reward is worth it. Be persistent. Keep following the routine you have setup. And you’ll succeed.

Featured photo by Ivan Babydov

Please note that the information provided in these articles is intended for informational purposes only and should not replace professional advice from a veterinarian or dog trainer. Always consult with a qualified expert before making decisions regarding your dog’s health, well-being, and training.

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