Hiking and dogs are a great mix, but if you’re still undecided on the matter, you’re on the right page. We’ll give you plenty of reasons to have your dog tag along, but also some good tips, so read on.
1. It’s fun
There’s nothing more fun than getting your dog to accompany you on these hikes because you’ll get to admire nature from a whole different perspective. The best hiking dogs have a strong connection with the great outdoors, and they’ll show you just how much they enjoy being outside.
Through a series of boisterous howls or very excited whines, your dog will tell you exactly how happy you made him feel. Besides, he will sniff every new different scent, making you check out the direction he’s looking in, so you’re constantly wondering what new surprises await.
But simply having a companion along is great fun because you and your dog can talk, you can even let him off leash in special places where you’re allowed too. And when you stop for a break or for the whole night, you can easily toss around your Frisbee for a little while. Or maybe you’ll meet other people and their dogs along the way, which will be a great experience for both of you.
2. You can bond
Since you’re in the wilderness together, you get more chances of bonding. The first reason, apart from having more time to do that, is that you spend that time in very different conditions than at home. So when dogs find themselves in new settings, they are likely a bit apprehensive at first, relying on their human a bit more.
But you’ll also have lots of fun, which means both your brains will secrete tons of endorphins at the same time, which will connect you two. While you smile and your dog gives out a pleasurable howl, you’re certain to see the world in the same way.
If there are more difficult portions along the way, when you need to use rope and carabineers for a difficult ascent, for instance, your bond can become even stronger. If you actively rely on each other, working together to tackle a problem, you’ll improve the communication between you, as well as your overall relationship.
3. You can train your dog
Since this is a new setting and the dog might be a little overwhelmed, it’s a perfect time to take the helm and show you’re in charge. That will give you the upper hand for obedience training, particularly if you’ve had some lessons at home.
Anyway, your dog should already know how to walk on a leash because you can’t bring him along without one. Besides, at first, you’ll notice that his enthusiasm is a bit hard to contain, so don’t start your training right off the bat.
It’s good to wait a little longer so the dog can sniff around and get more acquainted with the surroundings and so that he can get rid of the excess energy. But that will also give you enough time to assert your dominant position.
When that’s done, you can start with simple commands that your dog doesn’t know, like “sit” or “speak”. You can also try to practice “fetch” or “stay” but only if you’ve started to at home, or the dog might be completely overwhelmed by the distance between you two. Another amazing skill you can teach your dog is how to potty in specially designated places.
4. It’s a great workout for both
Working out might feel very stressful when you’re at home, and justly so. You need to juggle work, kids, errands and what not. So when can you find time to run to the gym or run at all for that matter? Same goes for your dog unless you have a big yard or a doggy sitter.
But even if you do have the time to work out at home on a regular basis, there’s nothing quite like breaking a sweat outside. The fresh air will not only motivate you, but it will help your muscles perform better. You also have a different perception of how time passes, so you’re likely going to hike way more than you would walk or jog at home.
Since we already established that it’s so fun to hike with your dog, you should know this fun has a strong impact on your workouts too. The secreted endorphins, along with the stronger bond created will act as a great motivator too.
5. It reduces stress
All the factors above work together to reduce stress for both you and your dog. You will be more relaxed, have a stronger, closer connection with your four-legged friend, you can show him he can depend on you and you’ll have an amazing workout. All these will increase your dopamine levels and have you more relaxed by the end of the day.
But stress isn’t a problem just for humans, as dogs get plenty of that. It can be decreased for dogs who have the whole backyard for themselves, but suppressing their natural instincts of running and chasing prey can’t be beneficial.
So hiking gives them a breath of fresh air, both literally and figuratively. Having fun will help them relax more, but so will discovering the fact that you’re a great human they can count on. At the end of the day, the obedience training you’re doing now and the connection you’re building will reduce stress for them in the long run too.
But even a short day hike can have outstanding effects. Since they’re exercising hard and using a bunch of extra energy, the dogs will be calmer and enjoy a better sleep when you get home.
With that in mind, we’re curious what reasons you have for hiking with your dog. Where will you go? How long will you be staying? What activities do you have planned? What do you think you and your dog will enjoy most? And when you’re back home, pay us a visit too and tell us how it all went.