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Figo’s 2023 Guide to Hiking With Your Dog

Don't hit the trail unprepared! We've got the tips and tricks you need to know before you set off on an adventure with your pup.

young couple hiking with dog

Hiking is a fun way to bond with your dog and explore the great outdoors. There's nothing like fresh air, sunshine, and a soulful sidekick to remind you that life is worth exploring. Our pets are more than just... pets. They're with us as we scale every boulder and hurdle, both literal and abstract.

That's why it's so important to ensure they're safe, happy, and healthy before you set off on adventures near and far. Figo's compiled a list of our favorite hiking tips, pet-friendly spots, worst-case scenario what-ifs, and more!

How to choose the right trail to hike with your dog

Hiking with your dog can be a fun and rewarding experience. However, not all trails are suitable for dogs. Before hitting the trails, it is important to choose the right one to ensure your dog's safety and enjoyment. Here are a few things to consider when choosing a trail to hike with your adventure pup.

Distance and difficulty

When choosing a trail, consider the distance and difficulty level. Choose a trail that matches your dog's fitness level. If your dog is not used to hiking, start with shorter and easier trails. Gradually increase the distance and difficulty level as your dog gets accustomed to hiking.

Trail rules and regulations

It is important to check the trail rules and regulations before heading out. Some trails do not allow dogs, while others may have leash laws or restrictions on certain dog breeds. Make sure to follow the rules and regulations to ensure a safe and enjoyable hiking experience.

Trail conditions

Consider the trail conditions before heading out. Trails with rough terrain, steep inclines, or narrow paths may not be suitable for dogs. Make sure to choose a trail with a surface that is comfortable for your dog to walk on. Avoid trails with rocky or jagged terrain that could potentially injure your dog's paws.

If your pup does get into a sticky situation while on the move, we've got all the info you need to render aid as soon as possible here: what to do if your dog gets injured while hiking.

You never anticipate the unexpected until it's too late. That's why Figo wants you to feel prepared and educated before you take your pup with you on a hike. A little awareness can save you precious minutes in an emergency.

Trail amenities

Choose a trail with amenities that your dog may need. Amenities such as water fountains, restrooms, and waste stations can make the hiking experience more enjoyable for both you and your dog. Make sure to bring enough water and snacks for both you and your dog.

By considering these factors, you can choose the right trail to hike with your dog. Remember to always keep your dog on a leash and clean up after them to ensure a safe and enjoyable hiking experience for everyone.

While you're at it, why not check out The Best Dog-Friendly Hikes in Each State? No matter where you roam, we've got the most scenic strolls for you and your pet.

How to prepare your dog for a hike

Before hitting the trail with your dog, it's important to prepare them for the journey. Just like humans, dogs need to be in good physical shape to be able to hike comfortably. Start by taking your dog on shorter walks to build up their endurance. Gradually increase the distance and difficulty level as your dog gets more comfortable with hiking.

It's also important to make sure that your dog is up-to-date on their vaccinations and preventative medications. Dogs can be exposed to ticks, fleas, and other pests while hiking, so make sure they are protected. Additionally, make sure your dog has proper identification in case they get lost on the trail.

Before heading out, make sure to pack a backpack for your dog with essentials such as water, food, and snacks. Bring enough water for both you and your dog, and make sure to stop for frequent water breaks along the trail.

You may also want to bring a first aid kit in case of any injuries. We've compiled a solid list of five essential items to bring when hiking alone with your dog as a good start. When your partner in crime is your pup, it's only natural to bring them along for all life's adventures. But it's important to keep safety in mind, particularly if you're hiking solo. Let's explore the must-have items for any one-on-one pet trek.

Finally, make sure to keep your dog on a leash at all times while on the trail. This will not only ensure their safety, but also the safety of other hikers and their dogs. Remember to respect other hikers and their dogs by giving them plenty of space and not allowing your dog to approach them without permission.

By properly preparing your dog for a hike, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable hiking experience for both you and your furry friend.

Hiking trail etiquette for dogs

When hiking with your dog, it's important to follow proper trail etiquette to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Keep your dog on a leash

Keeping your dog on a leash is not only a safety measure, but it's also a sign of respect for other hikers and their dogs. Even if your dog is friendly, not all dogs are, and some hikers may be uncomfortable or fearful around dogs. By keeping your dog on a leash, you can prevent any potentially dangerous or uncomfortable situations.

Clean up after your dog

Make sure to bring poop bags and clean up after your dog. Nobody wants to step in dog poop, and leaving it on the trail can also harm the environment. Bag your dog's waste and carry it out with you.

Yield to other hikers

When encountering other hikers and their dogs on the trail, yield to them and give them plenty of space. Step off to the side of the trail and keep your dog close to you. If your dog is reactive or anxious around other dogs, consider stepping even further off the trail to let other hikers pass.

Be mindful of wildlife

While hiking, you may encounter wildlife such as squirrels, rabbits, or even larger animals like deer or bears. Make sure to keep your dog under control and don't allow them to chase after wildlife. Not only is it dangerous for your dog, but it can also harm the wildlife and disrupt their natural habitat.

Respect trail rules and regulations

Make sure to respect trail rules and regulations, such as leash laws or breed restrictions. Follow any posted signs and stay on designated trails. By respecting the rules and regulations, you can help preserve the environment and ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.

By following these tips, you can be a responsible and courteous hiker when hiking with your furry friend. Remember to always be mindful of other hikers and their dogs, as well as the environment and wildlife around you.

Lizz Caputo is a Content Strategist at Figo, animal enthusiast, and owner of a rescued senior American Bully. Her hobbies include checking out new restaurants in her area, boxing, and petting dogs of all shapes and sizes.

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No one is permitted to sell, solicit or negotiate an insurance policy without a producer license in the state in which the plan is sold, and all prospects should be directed to Figo Pet Insurance. The information contained in this website is for illustrative purposes only and coverage under any pet insurance policy is expressly subject to the conditions, restrictions, limitations, exclusions (including pre-existing conditions), and terms of the policy documentation issued by the insurer. Availability of this program is subject to each state’s approval and coverage may vary by state. Coverage underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (IAIC), a Delaware Insurance Company, 11333 North Scottsdale Road Suite 160 Scottsdale, AZ 85254. Live Vet and the Figo Pet Cloud are separate non-insurance services unaffiliated with IAIC. Figo Pet Insurance's California license number is 0K02763.

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