What could be better than immense green spaces, lands where our gaze is lost beyond an infinity of trees, flowers and wild plains? What could be better than walking on these dirt paths where the scents of fresh herbs and wild flowers surround us, where the sound of the wind passing between the branches merges with that of the nearest river? What could be better than taking a few moments for yourself, closing your eyes, and being surrounded only by mountains and greenery?
But above all, what could be better than enjoying this type of outing with your faithful canine companion?
By bringing Pitou on so many hiking trails, he sees not only the chance to be in the company of his owner but also to live an extraordinary experience.
However, in order for it to involve the least possible risk, some precautions prove to be necessary, both on the medical and material aspects. Some very important questions to ask yourself during the preparation can help.
Are dogs allowed?
When choosing your hiking trail, it is essential to first make sure that dogs are indeed accepted there. It may seem like a small detail, but a hike, as well prepared as it may be, with its faithful companion will turn out to be completely useless if you cannot bring it with you.
Also note that, although SÉPAQ now gives access to dogs in its national parks, this is not the case on all trails.
Is this a popular hike for walkers and their dogs or is it less popular?
As part of a hike with your dog, this question is particularly important to ask, especially if our dog is reactive.
Although for many dogs the presence of other living beings on the trails is little or not significant, for others it is synonymous with a very high source of stress.
Thus, before giving your companion this outdoor experience, make sure that he is comfortable with the presence of others. Otherwise, it would be a good idea to plan your outing according to the traffic of the chosen trail(s) as well as the tourist season.
Is it a hike in the mountains or in the forest?
When it comes to planning, one of the first aspects that comes to mind is the type of terrain we will be walking on. This same aspect is just as important when we plan this type of trip with Pitou. Indeed, if the hike takes place rather in the mountains, it will be necessary to take into consideration:
the presence of rocks;
the physical health of our companion (see a little further).
Depending on these various aspects, the equipment required for both you and Pitou will be at risk of changing. So be sure to take them into consideration and equip yourself and Pitou according to each of them.
Will it be a multi-day hike or just a few hours?
This question allows you to know the quantity as well as the type of material to bring. A 4-hour hike, for example, will not require as much equipment as one spanning 4 days.
The first will only require:
a bowl of water (this must come in sufficient quantity);
a good walking harness.
A lanyard is also welcome because it allows Pitou to explore over a greater distance while being directly connected to you.
The second, however, requires more preparation:
a good walking harness;
boots to protect your dog's paws if the terrain turns out to be rocky;
a small SOS kit (to design this one, you can refer to your
a coat (if your dog is chilly);
pliers to remove potential ticks;
Note that in all cases, the use of a harness is strongly recommended in order to avoid any injury to the neck and to properly distribute the tensions along the back.
Should I keep my dog on a leash or not throughout the hike?
Although the prospect of Pitou frolicking happily in nature may seem very appealing to some dog owners, this simple act has several problems:
the dog can get lost (hence the importance of an excellent recall), or even get hurt;
he can come face to face with animals such as a porcupine;
it can endanger nearby wildlife by attacking it;
it can fall on a dog not being comfortable with the others, the meeting
can escalate into a fight;
some people are not comfortable with dogs, the presence of these
can make them uncomfortable.
Thus, for your dog to get the most out of this outdoor activity, the use of a lanyard is highly recommended.
Is my dog physically fit to walk the desired distance?
To know if his companion is able to follow us or not on the hiking trails, we must first and foremost ensure that he is in good physical health. A visit to your veterinarian will eliminate certain problems such as cardiovascular problems, breathing difficulties, mobility problems, even allergies (which, if environmental, can get worse in the forest).
Also, if your dog has joint problems, a short hike of just a few hours might be more appropriate, just like a young pup. Indeed, the impact caused on the still growing body can be detrimental to its formation, not to mention that puppies naturally need much more rest than adults.
Also, if your dog isn't used to walking long distances, going on a multi-day hike may not be the best plan. Instead, start with simple steps, which gradually increase in time and distance. This will allow your dog to adapt and minimize the risk of accidents.
As you have seen, living an experience as incredible as a hike with your best friend requires some preparation. Choosing the appropriate trail, the time of year, the amount of traffic, the appropriate equipment and a “quick check-up” with your veterinarian are just the basics of a successful hike. The rest being pure pleasure, all you have to do is put on your shoes and choose a trail to discover!