Take A Hike: Adventures In Dog Hiking Part 1

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Oscar and I decided we needed a new challenge this summer. We’re not the most athletic pair – you could call us couch cuddle enablers. But since I’m the responsible one in the relationship, it was up to me to pick a new summer activity and get us off our butts.

Picking one that would suit the both of us was a challenge in itself. Oscar is a 10 pound Shih Tzu/Chihuahua mix who is content at barking at dogs visiting the neighboring vet’s office. We needed something that he would be able to accomplish physically but wouldn’t bore us both to pieces. The options didn’t look promising. That was, until I met Jessica Rhae from You Did What With Your Weiner?

I know – that site sounds way dirtier than it actually is! But this is a website that’s dedicated to Jessica’s hiking adventures with her two miniature Dachshunds, Chester and Gretel. If those two little pooches can climb mountains and rocky trails, there’s no reason why Oscar and I can’t do it!

Because I’m such a hiking noob, Jessica was generous with her advice and was happy to pass along just a few of the things she thought I’d need to know on my first hike. Because this was my first hike, she suggested that I keep it short. If we were to get tired or whiny (that would be me, not Oscar), it would be much easier to bail. Jessica wisely notes that the goal of your first hike is to make it positive – that way, you’re more likely to want to do it again.

A good jumping-off point would be about two to three hours, at a distance of three to five miles. Jessica recommends a trail that is flat to gently rolling – so don’t try to conquer Mount Everest on your first time out.

What To Bring On Your Hike

hiking-with-dogs-1Because you’re going to be out on the trails for an extended period of time, you’re going to have to bring a few things (in a backpack). But one thing you can never have too much of is water, says Jessica. You’d better have plenty of water and snacks for you and your pups.  You don’t want to get dehydrated, so plan to take a sip of water about every five to 10 minutes while out hiking. Jessica likes to use a hydration bladder for convenience sake.

To make it super easy, Jessica’s offered up a list that every pooch packer should take hiking with them (in addition to water and snacks):

  • A small flashlight or headlamp;
  • A map of the trail (it doesn’t have to be fancy, it can be a photo of the map on your cell phone);
  • A small first aid kit (some Band-Aids, a wound cleaning pad, and some duct take to cover sore spots on your feet before a blister forms);
  • An extra pair of socks in case your feet get wet (or double as gloves in an emergency);
  • A short sleeved shirt or light sweater;
  • A portable dog bowl.

Leave It At Home

Not only has she picked up what to do right, Jessica also knows what not to wear on the hiking trail. Making that list are jeans and cotton – specifically cotton socks. Jeans are heavy and uncomfortable (not to mention not-at-all flexible) and cotton stops insulating when it gets wet. Plus, as soon as cotton gets damp, out come the blisters! Spend a little extra and get yourself a pair of synthetic or wool socks (she recommends Smartwool socks).

Now that I’ve been properly schooled by an expert, I’m ready to hit the trails with Oscar. I’ve also convinced a my friend and colleague Stacy, and her dog, Watson, to join me. It’s much more fun to share the experience with someone else – and I figure that between the two of us, we’ll be able to read a map!

Join us next week for Part 2 of our dog hiking extravaganza, when we hit the trails, get back to nature and come pretty close to encountering an almost alligator (which is pretty incredible considering we live in Canada, we were nowhere near a zoo and again… we live in Canada!)


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