One of the great things about having a dog is that she can open up a world of exciting adventures for you to enjoy. If you look at dog ownership in the right way then you can enjoy a healthier lifestyle while spending quality time with your pet.
For a lot of people this simply means going to the park with their beloved pooch or making the occasional trip to the beach together. For other people, they might soon realize that their dog can be the perfect company on long hikes and become more active than ever before.
For example, I recently went on a terrific walk up Mount Snowdon in Wales with my Cockapoo, Luna. I learned a huge amount from that trip and decided to use my new-found experience to make a list of some of the most essential tips for anyone looking to do something similar.
1. Plan Well
If you go out hiking on your own then you need to plan well in advance of the day. Even the gentlest and least demanding hill or mountain needs to be tackled carefully or you run the risk of getting lost or getting stuck up there after dark if you underestimate it.
Doing it with a dog means taking a bit more time to plan, as you need to go at her speed and look after her needs as well as your own. You definitely want to make sure that you put in enough planning time to make this a fabulous, trouble-free day out that both of you remember fondly for a long time.
In my case, I decided that we would be best going up the gentlest route to the top of the mountain, even though it isn’t the quickest approach. It is worth thinking about how to make the day comfortable and enjoyable for your dog while you are planning, as this might not always be the same as your own priorities.
2. Start the Day Early
This is the kind of day out in which it makes sense to get as early a start as you possibly can. If you are doing it at the weekend after a tiring week of work then it can be tempting to settle for a long lie-in before setting out.
However, this means that will miss out on some of the best hours of the day. You might also end up running late and not being able to get the end of the climb before it gets dark. Don’t forget that you might encounter some setbacks along the way or your pooch might not be in the same rush to climb the mountain that you are.
We set off at 4am and this turned out be the best possible start of the day that we could have made. Arriving early and having the place all to ourselves for a short while was a fantastic feeling. Starting so early in the day also meant that there no rush and we were able to enjoy our climb at a decent pace without any risk of darkness surprising us.
3. Take Along Plenty of Food and Water
Another tip you should definitely bear in mind is that of taking along enough supply of snacks and water for both of you. In fact, it is a good idea to take more than you think you need, as you never know if you will get delayed or stuck somewhere.
Thankfully, dog snacks don’t take up too much room and you can also use a collapsible water bowl to make sure that your backpack isn’t too packed with stuff. Even if it isn’t a particularly hot day you will still want to make sure that you offer her a drink now and then.
One great tip I hadn’t thought of before leaving home was to look for restaurants or pubs to have a stop in on the way back to the car. The good news is that we found one on the way down and stopped in for something to eat and drink there, which was a brilliant way to round off the day.
4. Look for Useful Accessories
Unless it is a tough mountain to climb you probably don’t need too many accessories for yourself. A warm jacket, sturdy boots and something to keep the sun out of your eye are among the essentials for anyone, of course.
Yet, you might find that you need to put a bit more thought into the accessories that your four legged friend is going to need when she joins you. An outdoor lead and a winter jacket are a couple of the items that you will definitely need to consider along for your dog on an adventurous trip like this.
In the end, the lovely winter coat I had picked out for Luna wasn’t needed, as the weather stayed pleasant throughout the day, but I was glad to have taken it along all the same. The longer outdoor lead I had bought was used, and while she pulled more than normal I chalked this down to her being overly enthusiastic rather than a problem with the lead that we used.
5. Find Out When to Keep Him on a Lead
Since we just looked at the use of a lead, it is a good point to mention that there are bound to be a number of situations in which you will need to keep your dog firmly on a lead as you hike with her. One example of is if the terrain is treacherous and you feel that you need to keep tight control over her to avoid possible problems.
You might also feel that you want to keep her away from other hikers or other dogs. Not everyone is happy to see a dog bounding towards them while they are out hiking and this can also be dangerous if someone panics when they see your dog running towards them and stumbles or falls.
In some places it is also illegal to let your dog off the lead at any time. This is the case on the climb up Mount Snowdon, so I made sure that Luna was on her lead at all times as we walked up and then back down again. This is one of the reasons why choosing a good lead is a good idea, so that you have more control over how far she can go and can vary the length as the occasion demands.
6. Look After the Environment
No matter where you take your dog for a walk it is important that you look after the planet while doing so. This is truer than ever when you are exploring a pristine mountain or hill with your furry buddy. Isn’t it horrible when you see people leaving rubbish behind them?
These are open, natural spaces that we should all be looking to leave in exactly the same state that we found them. This means being really careful to not leave behind rubbish or dog poo on your travels.
This might feel like a bit of extra hassle but just do what we did and stop to look at the natural beauty all around you for a second. Do you really want to mess up this place so that future human and canine visitors don’t get to enjoy it in the same way that you do? I am sure that you won’t mind a little bit of extra work once you look at in that way.
7. Take Plenty of Breaks
Taking plenty of breaks along the way is the final big piece of advice that we can offer after our great day out. This might seem like something that you would do naturally but it turns out that it is easy to get stuck in the mode of rushing up the mountain and not seeing anything going on around you.
As well as missing out on some of the best sights, this also means that you both risk getting tired out too soon. It is far better to pace yourselves and ensure that you get to the top in good shape and still feeling pretty fresh.
On our climb, Luna and I had got about halfway up before I realised that we hadn’t yet stopped for a single, proper break. Doing this gave us a chance to take some pictures, get a drink and rest our limbs for a few minutes. These breaks can be among the most enjoyable moment of the whole day.
Climbing up a mountain with your dog isn’t really as difficult as it might appear to be at first. If you take these simple tips into account then you will discover that it is a fantastic day out that should go smoothly from start to finish.
Certainly, we are planning to do it again soon, as it is an addictive business that can easily become a habit once you give it a try.
About the Author:
Mike is a dog lover who enjoys nothing more than getting out and about with his Cockapoo, Luna, to explore the world together. He runs CockapooHQ, which is a blog all about the Cockapoo Breed.