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If you are a dog owner and are striving to become healthier, there are few things better that you can do for both you and your fur baby than to go hiking together. The open air and a little exercise will bring you both closer together and become a new favorite pastime before you know it. However, there are definitely a few things you need to do to prepare your dog and to ensure it is a great experience. Here are a few things to consider before starting out.

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First, is your dog in good shape? If you have a dog who doesn’t get much exercise and you don’t typically take him or her for walks, it is going to be a real challenge to take on a hike of any magnitude. Just like people, dogs need to build up stamina and strength before “leveling up” to new challenges. Would you go on a hike if you have been living the life or a couch potato? Start instead, by taking your dog for walks in the neighborhood, slowly increasing them until you feel confident that your baby is ready for some more challenging terrain with you. It will become pretty obvious that your dog isn’t getting winded on longer and longer walks and that the transition to a dirt path and a different incline will not be too much of a challenge.

Next, learn the importance of communicating with your pet. As important as it is to have your dog obey commands like “stop”, “heel” and”wait” in the neighborhood, they can be even more important out in the wild. Imagine the heart break if Stella ran after a lizard and slipped off of a dangerous footpath. I know it’s impossible to imagine, but this is a real risk. So, thoroughly test your communication skills and obedience before leaving home. Once you are confident that your pet is obedient and healthy, it’s time to take a trip! Find a great place (start with something that a novice could master) and make plans to start your new hobby with your favorite companion!

Once you get in the car and have your fur baby in tow, there are a couple of other things that you need to do to ensure that things go smoothly. Do you ever take a trip without ensuring you have plenty of drinking water and snacks? I’m amazed when I hear that some people forget to think about that when they bring their pets! I think it’s downright cruel! Your puppy needs to be hydrated to stay cool. Remember, they can’t even sweat and they are covered with fur. Make sure they have plenty of clean water and some treats to keep them going with you.

The last piece of advice that I will recommend, and I think this is absolutely critical, is to not try to manage more than once dog…unless you are totally experienced with both on hiking trails. It will be too easy for them to lose focus, become distracted or follow each other’s bad habits and behaviors. Since you are trying something new and it is a brand new environment, you should definitely limit any diversions and distractions so your dog can be attentive to your demands and needs. After a few successful trips, you can certainly bring another dog with you, but do not rush into it.

Keeping those suggestions in mind, you are off on your next adventure, your best friend by your side. Enjoy your time together outdoors and you will soon both be happier and healthier!

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