If you have a small pet dog, you might wonder if you can take them along on your hikes. Yes, Of Course! These little tykes may be short, but they are as adventurous as the rest of them!
There’s no need to leave your short-statured pets behind when you hit the trails. However, you should keep their special needs in mind.
The following tips will help both you and your short-legged companion stay happy and safe on the trail.
Just as you would spend time developing strength and endurance for your larger treks, it’s important to do the same for your pets. This includes the ability to traverse over, under, around and through obstacles on a hiking trail. While hiking, it is common to come across logs, stones, creeks and more — that dogs need to be able to handle. What may sound trivial for medium or large sized dogs might not be as easy for these mini hikers.
Some off-the-trail activities, like games and agility training, can help build up trekking skills while also strengthening your bond.
Pick a fairly easy trail
Our little friends can be an excellent company on the trail if we’re ready with the help they need to tackle obstacles. Smaller breeds may have the same gumption and bravery as their larger counterparts, but they also have severe physical limitations.
Shorter limbed/longer spine breeds like corgis, dachshunds, and Basset hounds should avoid large obstacles and uneven terrain. They are already prone to herniated discs and tackling high surfaces can put more strain on their spines. On the other hand breeds like beagles and Pomeranians are prone to damaging their necks.
Another difficult obstacle to tackle is water. Creeks and streams might not seem like a big deal to larger dogs but could pose a grave danger to smaller breeds.
Even though most dogs can swim, crossing a swift creek deeper than their legs can be dangerous as they may get swept downstream.
Watch out for exhaustion
Many small breed dogs seem to be bundles of energy, and it’s easy to lose track of the fact that they are running themselves ragged in their excitement. With shorter legs, it takes more effort for them to maintain the pace. It’s up to us to monitor and control them.
Just as it’s tough for us to go from low-activity levels to tackling trails, it’s equally tough on dogs. Especially if new to hiking, it takes time for smaller dogs to build up strength and endurance. It’s best to start small, with short hikes on easy trails.
Stop to cool-off
Breaks are often needed for everyone participating on a hike, especially in hot climes. Smaller dogs with bodies closer to the ground pick up heat off the sun-baked earth and thus need more than the average number of cool-down stops. They also tend to hit their over-heating point sooner than larger breeds.
Be on the lookout for excessive panting, wobbly legs or plain exhaustion. If your pet seems too exhausted, it’s better to cut the hike short or carry him for the rest of the way.