When my puppy Bravo sees me carrying a daypack or hiking boots, he races to the door. Plants himself behind the vehicle and Whenever it swings wide enough, he squeezes through, quivering with anticipation. He leaps gleefully inside, as the tailgate drops. Bravo rides unobtrusively, no matter the distance, until sidewalk gets rougher. As if on cue, he stands, whimpering impatiently. The whimper crescendos to a bark as the car stops at the trailhead. Bravo is my Chesapeake Bay retriever. I increase simply because of Bravo some days.

He devours his share of our edibles looks at me with his large brown eyes, curls up next to me, when we reach the summit of a hill. He couldn’t care less about the view. He likes to hike because he’s with me and because it fills his nose with various tantalizing odors. I love to hike with him to the exercise and for his companionship.

Most dogs, regardless of size, make excellent hiking companions–if they are physically fit for the level of hiking that you plan to do, if they’re obedient, if they are socialized among people and other dogs, and when the weather isn’t too hot. All these are ifs. In short, hiking with dogs takes more thought and preparation than just starting a trail up. If you are thinking of taking a four-legged pal on a hike, here are some things to keep in mind that will keep you, your dog, and other hikers happier, and the environment healthier, starting with deciding whether you should even put your dog in the car:

Fitness
Hiking is more strenuous than walking. The terrain is uneven and involves gain. Chances are good that your dog does, if you spend more time than exercising lounging around. Likewise, your daily dog walk is made up of casual stroll around the block although if you’ve mapped out a hike, you might be carrying out your pooch. Before you load your backpack up, make an honest evaluation of your dog’s fitness level to be sure it can comfortably go the distance. If you cannot feel your dog’s ribs it would benefit from more exercise until you hit the trail.

Health
In addition to its fitness level, your dog may have other health concerns that influence its ability. The two most common are nursing hip dysplasia and pups. It’s best to wait until pups are weaned. The pups need their mother nearby, and a nursing dog’s body is under a lot of stress caring for the little ones. For hip dysplasia, a vet may be able to prescribe medication to reduce Fido’s pain. Whatever you do, do not give your dog ibuprofen, such as Advil or Motrin, or naproxen such as Aleve! These anti-inflammatories may have side effects for dogs.

Behavior
Then ask yourself if it is, if you feel your dog is fit enough. Hiking may take place but that doesn’t mean you’ll be alone. Before you take your dog be sure it can heel, sit, stay, and come in your control that is verbal. Your dog should be comfortable on a leash and, if off-leash, be interested in staying with you. Above all, your dog should be socialized among humans and dogs. Trails are narrow, often. You will be close to others when you pass on the road or at the peak of a favorite mountain. It will not be a if your dog is protective or aggressive. Ditto if it’s prone to barking, which disturbs the quiet people appreciate in the backcountry.

Size
Assuming that the dog is in form and well-mannered, just about any breed over 40 pounds must make a, which isn’t to say that small dogs can’t trot down the trail. If the trail is short and relatively 16, a Lab that is lazy cans humble. However, dogs that are small need to take far more steps to cover the identical bit of ground, and they can’t stretch as far up or down a stone, so where a larger dog wouldn’t they may require a lift. There are some trails that any dog can handle, obviously, and others that only the outstanding mountain dog should attempt. For everything in between, it is a judgment call.

Age
Age is more of a factor than size. Old dogs, like old people, have stiffer joints, arthritis, and other ailments that reduce their physical skills. Any dog age should be carefully assessed before taking it while smaller breeds have a tendency to live longer. Be gentle with dogs too. Lack of obedience training aside, hiking up and down steep, uneven paths can adversely affect the development of a growing puppy’s hips, shoulders, and other joints, which are not fully formed until a dog is at least nine months old in smaller breeds, and a year old in larger breeds.

Weather
Irrespective of how mountain-savvy your dog is, even a flat, shaded route to a pond is a much better choice than a steep, rocky scramble up an epic 4,000-footer if the weather is humid and hot. Or save hiking. Though the trail is much preferred by us, Bravo and I have opted for a dock over a hike.

All told, my furry friend and I have hiked over in New Hampshire, Vermont, and the Adirondacks. Our hike? A tough choice, but Mount Moosilauke on the western edge of the White Mountains is a competition. Bravo has accompanied me up Moosilauke no fewer than eight times. He also wading and enjoys the footing. I like the ridge walk along the Appalachian Trail to the summit with its view of the Presidentials and Franconia Ridge. But it doesn’t matter what Bravo is trailed by dog-friendly and I follow. Just getting out there is what I cherish.

Canine Trail Etiquette
You and your dog are. It only requires a few incidents, a couple of, or expensive dog rescues for a backcountry area to become limited to dogs. If you follow these guidelines, you’ll be a model puppy master on the road:

Keep your dog with you and under control at all times. When it’s off-leash, your dog should be in sight and within range of your commands.
Hold the dog-to-human ratio at 1:1. If dogs outnumber people, it can be tricky to quickly control dogs.
Limit the whole number of dogs on your hiking group to 2, regardless of the number of humans. More or three dogs trekking together develop into a bunch of dogs, which may be intimidating to other hikers and increases the effect to the environment.
Give dog-less hikers the right of way. When you meet with others on the trail, put your dog on a leash, step out of the way, and command your dog to sit until the other hikers have passed.
Say a friendly hello to others on the trail to signal to your dog that a friend and not a foe approaches.
If you encounter a loose dog on the trail, put your dog on a leash. You can control the situation better if your dog is leashed. Allow the two dogs sniff and to meet each other, and talk to them. As soon as the brief introduction is finished, continue briskly in your own way, ignoring the puppy.
Prevent your pooch from begging. It will be less likely to beg from others, if you satisfy your dog with its own snacks and water.
Clean up after your dog just as you would after yourself, using Leave No Trace principles. Dogs are not wild animals, and their refuse isn’t part of nature. Carry out (the only option in the alpine zone) or bury dog waste in a hole that is at least 6 to 8 inches deep and disguise the spot. Be sure the hole is at least 200 feet from campsites, trails, shelters, and water sources.
Don’t allow your dog to disturb plants or wildlife. Keep your dog when treeline walk on rock, and on the trail. Trampling can not be endured by many alpine plants. Also, soil gets compacted and sticks accelerating erosion.
Keeping Your Dog Safe
Not every hike is dog-friendly, and might still have elements that seem appealing to you but that may pose a threat to your dog. Consider the following before committing to a route:

Fire towers. These lookouts with construction disorient and their narrow stairs dogs. Most cannot make it and if they do, the space is cramped inside to get a canine that is nervous. Leave your dog at its base, tied to a tree or held by a friend, if there is a fire tower your destination or rock away from the steps.
Cliffs. It is going to sense your excitement or trepidation and become excited itself, frequently bounding ahead, although a cliff wo jump off. To prevent any scares–or worse–make certain to put your dog and keep it shut and calm when approaching cliffs.
Ladders. Hiking trails with ladders. The taller the ladder is the probability of your dog and it is harmful to you and your dog to carry it down or up a ladder.
Water. Dogs are susceptible to waterborne illnesses. Technically, you should discourage your dog from drinking water. Yeah, right: Just the prudish dogs will dismiss a brook, and most will jump right into a swampy pool of stagnant algae if they are hot and thirsty enough. If at all possible, guide your dog always, and to clean, running water carry a water dish and water for your dog. Streams frequently dry up, and dogs are not allowed around water sources for shelters and campsites.
10 Essential Items for Hiking with Dogs
Leash: Avoid long leashes. A better choice is either a moderate leash under 10 feet or a short heeling leash long that you can quickly shorten to length. Note: A variety of state parks require dogs to be on a leash that is 10 feet or shorter.
Dog comb or brush to maintain your dog’s fur deburred. On certain breeds, even if their fur gets knotted enough, they’ll refuse to move another inch even if they are 10 miles from the vehicle.
Snug collar with your phone number and your pet’s name, rabies tag, and dog license on it.
Dog booties to protect sensitive dog paws or if your dog cuts a pad or rips a claw.
Water: Carry at least a quart of water to your dog for every 3 miles you plan to increase, if there are no reliable water sources along the route.
Water dish
Dog food/snacks: Bring actual dog food and/or dog snacks, which are nutritionally balanced (fewer carbs and more fat, protein) and easier for dogs to digest than human food.
Spare rope: based on what you carry for a leash, a spare rope is useful for times when you need to tie your dog to a tree or another fixed object.
Plastic bags if your dog does its business anywhere above treeline, along a trail, or in a camping area, and you need to pack it out.
Dog first-aid kit: Basic components should include the following, most of which can be found at larger pet supply stores, through your veterinarian, or in your local drug store:
Bandage scissors
Dog toenail clippers
Tweezers
Cleansers and disinfectants such as hydrogen peroxide and Betadine
Canine eyewash
Calamine lotion (for itchy bug bites)
Topical antibiotic ointments like Bacitracin or Neomycin
Baking soda (for bee stings)
Vaseline
Stop bleeding powder
Enteric-coated aspirin or Bufferin
Imodium A-D
Pepto-Bismol
Dressings and bandages
Gauze pads (4 inches square)
Gauze roll
Non-stick pads
Adhesive tape (1- and 2-inch rolls)
Muzzle: The most passive dog can get snappy when stressed due to trauma