Hiking is a wonderful way for both you and your dog to get some great exercise and enjoy nature. There are several things you’ll need to keep in mind as you prepare to hit the trail.

One – Is your dog up to speed on basic training? You really don’t want to take your dog out hiking if he’s not at least well trained in the basic commands such as sit, stay, down, come and so forth. The last thing you need is an out of control dog racing off down the trail and you are unable to get him back.

Two – Is your dog welcome where you plan to hike? Many of our National Parks welcome our canine companions, but also have some restrictions about dogs and trails. You will need to check the regulations for each park, as you want to avoid a fine which could happen if you take your dog where he is not permitted. Also, check the regulations associated with your local parks as well. If you are hiking on private land, please keep your dog under control and in your presence at all times.

Three – Respect the B.A.R.K. rules. Our National Parks have what are known as the BARK rules and these are good rules to follow when hiking with your dog, whether you are in a National Park or not. They are:

B = Bag your dog’s waste. Yes, even out in “nature” you need to pick up after your dog, as his waste could impact the water supply.

A = Always (yes, always!) keep your dog on a leash. Not everyone is comfortable around dogs and you also don’t want your dog disappearing down a trail because he saw a squirrel and not be able to get him back.

R = Respect the wildlife. This goes without saying. Do not let your dog run after ducks, chipmunks and so forth.

K = Know where you are permitted to go with your dog.

It’s also a great idea to take your dog first aid kit with you and of course to have a plentiful drinking water supply, as it’s not a good idea to let your dog drink from a lake or stream, as there is a risk of parasitic infestation.

You’ll also want to consult with your vet before you go about getting your dog on a good flea and tick preventative. Also, when you return, groom your dog throughly and remove any matted burrs, seeds or ticks that you see.

Make sure to have a strong, six foot leash and make sure your dog’s ID is firmly attached to his collar. Also see our WoofPost article on 7 essential items to take with you on the trail. Plus, see this article on how to make a first aid kit for your dog.

Ok, that’s about it. Time to hit the trail!

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