Colorado is the ideal place to take your dog hiking. It’s great exercise for you, and great exercise for your dog. To help you be prepared for your summer hiking adventures, Denver Dog Dynamix has some tips and tricks to make your hike enjoyable and safe for you and your dog. Good etiquette and creating positive cultural norms around dogs can vastly improve our hiking and dog experiences!
1. Train your dog to come when you call them. If your dog won’t come when you call them, they might get lost, chase wild animals, or get into confrontations with other dogs and people. If your dog with a solid recall is off leash, call your dog to you if you see (distractions, aka) other dogs, people, cyclists, wild animals, (insert distraction here), to you. If you’re working on that recall, i.e. your dog is still on leash, REEL THEM IN. Allow each distraction a safe distance to pass, and NEVER allow your dog to approach a distraction without express invitation (and even then I think you’re taking an unnecessary risk, but you do you).
2. Bring plenty of water for you and your dog. Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition. Be sure to check in on your dog and look for signs of heavy panting (with their tongue curling). Offer them water frequently. It might be tempting to let them drink out of a pond, lake or creek, but that could make your dog really sick. Most water sources in Colorado contain Giardia, a protozoan that causes explosive diarrhea.
3. Bring a first aid kit. Cuts, scrapes, and foot sores are much easier to deal with if you are prepared. Dog’s feet are especially susceptible to being worn on rocks and gravel. If we are going for a long hike, we always carry Ruffwear Dog Boots and Musher’s Secret. Do NOT lotion your dogs paws at home.. they need their pads to be tough in order to run around on rocks!
4. Be sure your dog is in good shape. If you have been hitting the treadmill all winter, but your dog has been mostly couch surfing, don’t expect them to climb Pike’s Peak. Be sure to consider your dog’s fitness level before you set out for a difficult climb. Starting the season with some shorter trips is a good way to boost your dog’s cardio, and condition your dog’s feet to the trail.
5. Pick up after your dogs. The easiest ways to lose access to wild spaces (and yes, the list of NO DOG spaces is growing) are to allow your dog to be a hinderance on other people’s good time and to leave the trail littered in doodoo. This means not forgetting bagged up poop on the side of the trail — we like our dogs to wear a dog-backpack so they can pack out their OWN waste.
Denver Dog Dynamix wishes you many safe and enjoyable hiking journeys!
Be Kind! Respect Nature!