I’m not talking about a long walk along the cycle tracks or canal (although these tips will still apply), I’m talking about a hike up a mountain or across fields, setting off after breakfast with a full rucksack and a map and getting back just before tea.
Not only are harnesses better for your dog to wear as they take the strain off their neck, but a proper lifting harness can be a lifesaver. I bought the Ruffwear Webmaster harness after finding it difficult to lift Guinness over a number of styles which didn’t have suitable dog access. It’s also very useful to be able to hold on to him and give him some extra support up difficult scrambles or rock climb sections, and if (fingers crossed it never happens) he did happen to slip or fall he shouldn’t come out of his harness or be hung from his armpits.
Once you get off the beaten track there aren’t many bins about. No one wants to get to the top of a mountain only to find they’ve stood in dog poo, so I always clean up wherever I am. A dicky bag is great for putting the bag of poo in and sealing all of the smells inside with it. You can clip it onto the outside of your rucksack or even put it inside if you’re feeling brave. Plus if you have a drive in your car before you eventually return back to civilisation you don’t get that nasty smell filling up your car. Highly recommended!
I’m sure you’ll be carrying drinks for yourself and it’s vital that you carry enough water for your dog too. Collapsible travel bowls are great space savers and you can use them for water and food if required. I have found that the cloth ones (such as the blue one below) soak water through to the outside slightly and then stay damp in your bag whereas the grey rubbery one dries much quicker. I simply clip the grey one to the outside of my rucksack.
I know I know, some people want nothing more than to see flexi leads banned. I have a confession to make, I actually use them quite a lot! I find them perfect for walking in big open spaces that are either unsafe for dogs to be off lead, require dogs to be on lead by law or is simply a new place that I haven’t been before and therefore it’s safer to keep Guinness on a lead. The flexi lead still allows him some freedom to mooch around, plus he can break into a comfortably trot rather than pacing. I use a thick webbing flexi lead (those thin, cord type ones definitely should be banned) and Guinness doesn’t pull when he gets to the end. For me its essential for a day hike in unknown territory, even if there’s no livestock about your dog shouldn’t be running around loose across agricultural land.
As much as flexi leads are useful there are times when a short lead is best, for example when you’re in a crowded area or the path is narrow. Plus it’s good to have a back up in case one lead breaks.
Chews & Treats
If you do get an area where your dog can be off lead then you may want something that you can reward the recall with, plus if you’re spending a whole day walking then your dog will appreciate a little extra nourishment. More so than anything, I find giving a dog a few biscuits or a chew while you’re sat down eating your lunch helps them to settle and keeps their attention (momentarily) away from your sandwiches!
1st Aid Kit
And not just a human kind. Ripped dew claw, sliced pad, cut leg, all common injuries a dog might pick up along the way. Carry a small 1st aid pack specifically for your dog.
I’m sure that most owners will agree with me when I say that walking our dogs is one of the nicest perks to having a dog. Getting out into the fresh air, discovering new places or revisiting favourite spots and enjoying some invigorating exercise. Of course different breeds and ages of dogs will need different amounts of exercise, so it’s vital that you ensure your dog is fit enough for the type and length of walk you are heading out on. It may be that you can still go for that day trek, but you’ll need to carry them for half of it, or you need to plan a short walk to allow time to do it at a slow pace. Our old Schnauzer was happy to be carried for a while, however with Guinness I think we’ll have to have a different plan to accommodate him, when that time eventually comes.
Wherever you go and whatever you do, enjoy it! Send me an email or drop a comment below sharing where you enjoy walking with your dogs. I’d love to see photographs and maybe if we get a few I can collate them into a post on here in the future!
- Ruffwear webmaster harness – http://dogoddity.com/2011/07/27/ruffwear-web-master-dog-harness-review/
- Dicky bags – http://dogoddity.com/2014/01/26/sht-happens