Taking a hike to explore nature is an exciting and rewarding activity, and it doubles up as an exercise routine for your beloved furry friend. Hiking a trail up a path can be taxing, though, so there are a lot of things to consider when taking your pet with you.

Here are a few questions you can ask before taking your dog to a hiking trip:

IS MY PET READY FOR A HIKE?

The most important thing to ask is if your pet is ready to take on a hiking activity. For example, a cocker spaniel may have a high energy level and is a potentially wanderlust breed, but there are limits to the intensity and exercise needs, so you have to adjust accordingly. Gauging your pet’s health before taking on the proper planning of the trip should come first before anything else.

To do this, you need to consult your dog’s veterinarian to make sure that you are not going to put your dog’s health at risk. You have to remember: not all dogs are hikers. Ask the vet about your pet’s physical status. Ensuring that they are free from any illness is a must. Also, getting an update on your pet’s vaccines helps boost their immune system to protect them from potentially harmful infections acquired while hiking.

Aside from their health, you also have to consider their age. Puppies can tolerate walks but hikes might give their young bones a lot of strain. Hiking would also take a toll on an older dog’s health.

If you are sure that your dog can take a hike, you can start preparing for the trip.

HOW DO I PICK A SAFE TRAIL?

Picking a trail that is appropriate for both you and your dog is essential in achieving a successful hike. The best thing to do is check a trail’s regulations before picking it. Location is also an important thing to consider. Some trails do not allow pets as companion, or some allow them as long as they are leashed. Check for any possible wildlife hazard that may spook your dog. A hike should be a relaxing experience for them as well, and bringing them to a trail that makes them anxious or stressed would put stress on you as well.

HOW DO I GET MY DOG READY FOR THE TRIP?

You need to make sure that you and your dog get enough practice for the long trip ahead. Start by taking little hikes every so often, especially when you are near the planned hiking date. You need to develop a pace that is comfortable with your pet. Also, this would help build their strength and stamina, especially when you up the distance and time of these practice hikes before the real one.

You should also reinforce obedience to your pet, so that hiking would be easier for both of you. Teach them to stick close to you and listen to your commands, since the new environment might excite your dog. You can practice with a whistle to do this.

Hiking is a form of exercise that toughens your dog and is a great bonding moment for both owner and pet. With the right preparation and practice, you will surely be able to enjoy a nice hike up a trail with your furry sidekick.