Walking is one of the best exercises known to man, and it’s only natural to want to share the benefits of a mountain hike with your best friend. Taking your dog along on a mountain adventure is a great way to bond, and your favorite canine has a lot to add to your enjoyment of the fresh air and sunshine. As you prep for your mountain hike, get ready to enjoy these benefits of bringing your canine companion.
1. Burn Off That Puppy Energy
Higher energy breeds and puppies often need far more exercise than many people can handle. While a walk around the neighborhood is always a welcome activity, going for a hike engages your dog’s body in more ways than a flat, urban sidewalk. At first, you will want to stick to simple trails until you know your dog’s capability of handling rougher terrain. Once they know the ropes, you can add in challenges such as steeper hills that give them a thorough workout.
2. Encourage Exploration
Dogs are naturally curious animals, and every animal lover knows all too well what kind of behavior can emerge when a dog gets bored. Head up into the mountains for a change of scenery when your community route gets boring. Remember that it is important to always keep your dog on a leash in the wilderness, but you can still let them wander with you off trail a bit to sniff out that new scent that keeps them engaged.
3. Socialize With Others
Other dog lovers commonly travel many mountain trails. Once your dog has had all of their vaccinations, they are ready to touch noses with other friendly pets that you meet along the way. Keep in mind that you should always follow hiking etiquette by asking the other person if it is okay for the dogs to greet, but most mountain hikers and their pets are excited to make new nature-loving friends. You might even meet a new walking buddy for your dog to have fun with on your next mountain hike.
4. Deepen Your Awareness of Nature
It is easy to zone out when you go hiking alone, but your dog will be highly attuned to every new scent, sound and visual sighting of an animal that crosses your path. Get ready to see birds flying overhead that you never noticed before, and you might even sight some mountain wildlife that you would have walked right by in the past. While seeing a deer in the distance is always exciting, do remember to double up on your dog’s identification tags just in case they get a little overexcited.
5. Reinforce Positive Behaviors
Since you first got your dog, you and your dog have worked hard on training. Mountain hikes give them a chance to show it off. Whether your dog heels at your command rather than running off to chase a squirrel or they sit quietly while a fellow hiker passes by, make sure to reward your dog with praise every time they go the extra mile to behave.
Spending time in the wilderness gives you a chance to enjoy a new aspect of your dog’s personality. Afterward, reward your dog’s hard work with a good bath and grooming session to make sure they didn’t pick up any fleas or ticks. Then, you can start planning your new adventures, because once a dog goes on a mountain hike, they will always be ready to go again.
Image: Nikolay, freedigitalphotos.net