Hiking with dogs is great for people who suffer from anxiety and depression. It's also a great exercise for overall health, good for your mood and it's a great bonding experience between you and your dog.
Exerting lots of your dog's energy on a hike will prevent boredom and frustration too but how long can a dog hike?
How Long Can a Dog Hike?
Dogs can hike up to 30 miles in a day if conditioned to. The average dog could manage between 5 to 10 miles a day but not consistently every day as this could lead to injuries and exhaustion.
In this article we will take a look at the ins and outs of hiking with a dog but we will also explore the best dog snacks for energy and which breeds are the best and the worst for being a hiking companion!
Starting with the definition of a hike, the main difference between hiking and walking is that hiking is a long walk done through trails, woods and countryside which can last anything from hours through to days.
Walking your dog exercises your dog mentally and physically and it helps you to build a true, loving relationship with them and creates quite the bonding experience.
How Far Can Your Dog Hike in a Day?
To determine how far your dog can hike in a day you will need to learn from experience and simply by trying. There are some factors and questions you can answer but every dog is unique, and you still need to judge it on an individual basis from your analysis. Questions and factors to consider include:
- How old are they?
- What breed are they?
- How active are they?
- Do they have any health conditions?
Let's further explore some of these factors.
How Far Can You Hike With a Young Dog?
When hiking with a young dog, remember they have little legs, little lungs and small limbs which are still growing should be the first thing on your mind. If you have a young dog or puppy then it is a great time to mould them and train them into a hiking canine however this should be done with care and consideration.
You can take them out on walks and mini hikes but you short take many little breaks for rest and hydration and take care not to push them too far. Taking something to carry them home in such as a K9 dog backpack could prove very beneficial when hiking with younger dogs.
How Far Can You Hike With an Old Dog
An older dog shouldn't just be left at home, they will still love the fresh air and joining you on a hike. Of course, when dogs gets older you should monitor them closely for issues such as arthritis and speak to your vet to ensure they are still capable. Lots of rest breaks will help, keep them well hydrated and choose cooler days to prevent them overheating (this counts for all dogs). Let them set the pace for you.
What Are the Best and Worst Dog Hikers?
If you are about to become a dog owner and your priority is to do a lot of hiking, then here are just some of the best and worst breeds for hiking. Remember, just because they are listed as the worst doesn't mean they cannot go hiking. Far from it. Our French Bulldog can outpace us when hiking up a mountain on a cool day.
Best Hiking Breeds
According to this article on the 5 best dog breeds for hiking off leash:
- Bernese Mountain Dog
- Labrador Retriever
Worst Hiking Breeds
- Bassett Hounds
- French Bulldogs
- English bulldogs
What's Great About Hiking with a Dog?
The great thing about hiking with dogs is that you can give them that 50 or 60 percent of 'off-leash time' allowing them to roam freely and really stretch their legs. Sometimes on a normal urban walk you will have them on the leash and although it's better than nothing some dogs will still feel like they have not fulfilled their expenditure of energy.
Dogs can be a bit like humans when it comes to hiking. We have lazy people, then we have those who like a brisk walk every day, then we have others who actively go to the gym daily and we have ultra-marathon runners.
There are a few groups that dogs can fall into too, but we will focus on the most common groups and these are your very active hiking dogs which are regularly covering some serious ground and miles, typically 20 miles plus per day and then we have the rest that manage anything from a steady stroll up to about 10 miles per day.
We have a French Bulldog, and he can easily manage our 10,000 steps with us in a day which is about 5 miles. Just because he can doesn't mean we should do this all the time. We must consider his joints, the weather, and any other factors that could cause him discomfort. You need to learn how to clearly communicate with your dog so you can determine what is best for them.
What Health Conditions Can Prevent a Dog From Hiking?
The following can prevent a dog from wanting to hike or join in on any activity or exercise.
- Lack of movement
Before we further discuss health conditions there is one potential health hazard that could occur during your hike and that hazard is the tick. If you want to know how to prevent ticks on dogs while hiking then check out the linked blog.
As dogs get older, they become less mobile just like us. Arthritis, hip dysplasia, and other illnesses can cause substantial pain and can prevent them from joining you on a hike.
Mobility issues can be as a result of problems such as spina bifida and other spinal challenges which means mobility is practically impossible for them and hiking just would not be feasible in most scenarios.
The Unfortunate Good Old Injury
Injuries to bones, joints and muscles or even the paws and claws can be enough to mean they put their feet up for a few days or weeks until they have recovered enough to venture back out with you. Carrying a dog first aid kit whilst on a hike can help with minor cuts, bumps and bruises and is a a handy little accessory for long dog hikes.
How Do You Give a Dog Water on a Hike?
When trying to achieve a long hike with your dog in a day, hydration should be at the top of your list. It goes without saying that they will need plenty of water and without it they will lose energy quickly and could become severely ill. You may wonder how to give your dog water if you are on a long hike? If there are no cafes, pubs, shops, or other sources of clean water then you are out of look. You can either take a large bottle of water and a collapsible bowl which will work however, if your dog doesn't drink the amount you poured then the water is quickly wasted. Use a dog water bottle with a slow release mechanism that only releases water as your dog licks. If ever such a water bottle was made for an activity, this is it!
Should I Feed My Dog More After a Long Hike?
Unless your dog is a regimented, hiking beast covering substantial distances everyday then there is no need to change how much you feed them. If hikes are becoming regular and you notice their weight dropping, then of course you should adapt their diet to suit their new lifestyle.
One thing you can consider before your hike is providing them with a natural dog energy bar to help get them raring to go. Just like we love a treat such as a banana before we go, dogs can respond very well to a dog energy bar too! You might be surprised at how great they can work.
To conclude, many dogs are capable of hiking up to 30 miles per day, but the average dog should stick to a maximum of 5 to 10 miles. I hope this article has provided some other useful tips to consider before trying our yours and your best pal's maximum for the day. Let us know how you get on through social media using #Travfurler.