Aren’t all trails dog-friendly? I had seen Himalayan sheepdogs climb high mountain passes. That gave me the impression that dogs can wander anywhere. How wrong I was!
A discussion with pet owners at Indiahikes revealed the true story of pet trekking. It’s full of good questions and challenges every dog owner faces when trying to take their dogs on a hike. So it’s no wonder we regularly receive messages, emails, and phone calls asking if we have suggestions for dog-friendly trails.
In this blog I want to explain everything I have learned on this topic. Just read it through and add your points in the comments section below. Let’s make it easier for animal owners to migrate in our country.
Is Your Dog Ready To Hike?
How do you find out Definitely not by watching your dog around the house.
Running wildly around the house or being openly active and energetic around the house is not a clear indication of willingness to go hiking. To determine how good your dog is in the wild, do the following three steps:
- Take long walks, climb a hill
When thinking about the first hike with your dog, start with a small 1-2 hour hike around your house. Look for small hills, a long beach walk, or a hike that ends with a swim in a pond.
- Spend the weekend out of town
Once you’ve assessed your dog’s preliminary fitness, go for a weekend in the wild. Look for host families and Airbnbs that are open to pets. To make the most of this weekend, find a spot in the country. This will help your dog warm up in the wild.
- Notice how your dog reacts to different environments
In such a room, pay close attention to how your dog reacts to the surroundings. Does he feel like exploring on his own? Are you nervous? How does he react to other dogs on the trail?
Once you have a good idea of your dog’s readiness, it is time to work on their strengths and weaknesses.
Here’s how to prepare your dog for an outdoor hike
Hiking is an adventurous mixture of uncertainties. In the wild, you have no control over the weather, temperature, or who you meet on the trail.
In such a scenario, first observe how your dog deals with insecurities. Do you like to step out and explore?
“A lot depends on the race. Indie pets love and enjoy hiking and trekking. But they are at risk to most of the other local dog packs.
That being said, dogs like Labradors and other large breeds have to slowly adapt to hiking as they tire too soon and need help when the trail gets bouldery and rocky, ”says Digvijay Singh, an Almora-based photographer who keeps short His dogs Snowy and Laku go hiking.
The key here is to ease your dog out into the great outdoors. To do this, follow
- Sign up for dog-friendly meetings.
A great way to introduce your dog to the wild is to do so through a community. Go for a walk with fellow dog owners and spend time in spaces specially designed for this purpose like The Farm, Semmancherry.
- Spend time outdoors
Puppies raised in a household take some time to get used to the outdoors. If you plan to take them on a hike, spend time with them. Be sensitive to how they react to the environment
- Make yourself comfortable with a loose, long leash
You need to watch your dog closely on an unfamiliar trail. Understand that the dog may not follow you everywhere or be so excited that he / she won’t run back and call you.
It is necessary to keep your dog on a loose, long leash to accomplish this. But that also takes a lot of practice.
There are three things to keep in mind when training your dog to walk on a long leash:
- The dog’s pace becomes your pace. Know that the dog will not obediently follow you along the way. Instead, the dog can run ahead and keep pulling on the leash when not trained. This could become annoying to you and the dog after a while.
- Be ready to keep your dog on a leash or follow him when he goes exploring.
- On trails in the jungle with trees and bushes, watch out for the leash to get tangled when your dog zigzags through the path. In such cases, it is best to call your dog back or follow his crooked trail to straighten the leash.
- Encourage your dog to explore
The idea of taking your dog outdoors is to foster the spirit of exploration. But your dog will only love it if he / she has no physical discomfort. To do this, you may need to look for accessories that will make the hike comfortable.
If your dog is out of town and exposing him to the wild, the outdoor trail takes time. Usually, city-bred dogs’ paws are used to smooth and flat surfaces. They find it difficult to navigate through areas where a lot of pebbles and stones get stuck between their toes.
It also happens that their paws get scalded when the sun is too strong. In such situations, they become inactive after the excursion. Rub paw butter or soothing creams to relieve their pain.
Like humans, dogs are prone to dehydration. Especially when they are in the sun for a long time. So keep them hydrated by offering them water from time to time on the hike. This prevents heat stroke.
5 Great Dog Friendly Hikes in India
“Day hikes with dogs are best when you don’t have the pressure to cover a certain distance. Bring plenty of water, take breaks, and choose a balanced, shaded, sunny way to rest that your furry friend needs, ”says Digvijay.
From there, I’ve listed five hikes you can do with your dog and why they’re great to start with:
Sari to deoriatal
The Deoriatal campsite
This is a great option for pet owners who are open to introducing their dogs to trek in the Himalayas. This is a popular trai that starts in a narrow Himalayan Sari village. Although reaching Sari is a long journey, the hike from Sari to Deoria Valley is short, scenic, and initially safe as the first Himalayan hike with your dog.
Here’s why I say this:
- The long drive to Sari prepares your pet for trips that lead to such a Himalayan trek.
- The trail is well laid out so the chance of getting lost is minimal. Even if it is advisable to keep your dog on a long leash.
This is a comfortable long drive of 70 km from Bengaluru. It is a collection of huge rocks and boulders with cave-like formations.
If you want to introduce your dog to explore the great outdoors, this is a great hike for two reasons:
- It’s an easy hike
- It has an interesting landscape that will encourage your dog to explore and play.
Located in the Mandya district of Karnataka, this enchanting hike is great for getting your dog used to outside waters.
The Shivasamudra hike takes you to a magnificent waterfall (second highest in India) on the Kaveri River.
Again, there are two strong reasons this hike works well if your dog has just started exploring the outdoors. You are:
- It’s an easy hike, barely 100 steps until autumn.
- There are a lot of monkeys. That way you can gauge how your dog is reacting to the wildlife.
This hike is approximately 150 km from Mumbai. It’s an interesting trail that takes you to an old toll booth between the Konkan coast and the Hunnar region on the Deccan Plateau. It’s a great hike to explore in the monsoons when water cascades climb the stairs that lead to the top of this pass.
While it’s a favorite in the trekking community, this is why this is a great option for trekking with your dog too:
- After a gradual ascent through the forest, it becomes difficult.
- Doing this in the monsoons will expose your pet to the rain and prepare for unexpected weather conditions on longer hikes.
- The pass is also connected by road. If your dog is exhausted by the end of the hike, you can rent a ride back to the trailhead.
Located in the Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh, this walking tour takes you to an ancient temple overlooking a floating island in a pond. For the Prashar Lake Trek, climb to 8,900 feet from Kantlu Base Camp, which is a 2-hour drive from Mandi.
There are two strong reasons this is a great hike for pets who are used to the great outdoors:
- It is an easy to moderate hike that goes through a beautiful rhododendron forest with a steep incline. This exposes your dog to a slightly challenging trail.
- You can also see how your dog reacts to the Himalayan weather and altitude.
What to take with you when hiking with your dog
- eat: Make sure to feed your dog every 45 minutes along the way. This is necessary to maintain their energy levels as they make an effort to go on the hike physically.
- water: It is important to keep your dog hydrated along the way. Like food, continue to offer them water. You can even mix water with glucose to help maintain energy levels.
- Warm jacket: Depending on your dog’s coat, wear warm clothing for hikes that are high or in colder regions. Your dog can get sick if he is not protected from the cold.
- Rain jacket: For monsoon hikes like Naneghat, your dog will need a raincoat the first time he ventures into the rain. Experienced dogs can sometimes do without a raincoat
- Dog backpack: Carrying food, water and accessories for your dog will add weight to your backpack. In such a situation, you can get a backpack for your dog and put some weight on him / her.
However, be careful not to overload your dog. Ideally, a dog can support 10-30% of its weight. That doesn’t work at first either. Slowly put weight on your back depending on your dog’s strength. Start with the backpack first.
That brings us to the end of this blog. But not everything has been said yet. There are a lot of things to keep in mind when traveling with your dog and I will talk about them in my next blog.
In the meantime, please tell me if you found this blog useful. Have I neglected to address a key issue about hiking with your dog? Do share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Have fun trekking!