Three Beginner Tips For Hiking With Dogs

   03.13.18

Taking the family dog on a hiking trip can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience. The owner and the pooch get some alone time together in the peace and quiet of nature.

However, some dogs are not as adapt to being in the woods as other dogs. For example, my dogs and I live in a rural area. When the dogs and I are not walking through the woods together, they are prowling on their own. It is not uncommon for my dogs to spend all day running the hunting leases that surround the farm. Sometimes they bring home part of a rabbit, other times a bone from an animal carcass.

Some dogs on the other hand, rarely, if ever, get to follow their instinct to hunt. They are kept in a backyard where they have limited range. So when they get the chance, they may take advantage of the opportunity and go on the prowl.

It is unfortunate, but some dogs become lost while on hiking trips. They may get on the scent of a deer, wild pig, or something else. When that happens, the dog may not listen to the commands of its owner.

Identify Your Dogs

People who hunt wild pigs will sometimes buy heavy collars with the owners name and phone number on a tag. The tag is securely attached to the collar. These are not the cheap collars someone may see at the local big box mart. They are heavy duty, come in a variety of colors, and the name tag will usually be made out of brass. Except to spend at least $20 for the collar.

Why would hog hunters buy collars like that for their dogs? Because sometimes the dogs become lost while chasing pigs. Several years ago my children and I came across a lost hog hunting dog. Using the phone number on the collar I was able to call the owner. He told me the dog had been missing for two days. In the end, the dog was safely returned to its owner.

Consider having your dog micro-chipped. There may be a yearly fee associated with keeping the chip in the system.

Have recent pictures of your dog. If the dog were to become lost, you have pictures to share on social media.

Spay or neuter the dog.

Start Slow

If the dog is not use to being in the woods, maybe start with a local park and keep the dog on a leash.  Expose it to the sights, sounds and smells of nature. It may see rabbits or squirrels and may want to give chase.

Consider buying a shock collar for the dog. Some people may consider this inhumane. If the dog runs off and will not come back on command, give it a gentle shock. After a few times the dog learns to come back or get zapped.

The shock collars on my dogs have a 1,000 foot range and are worth every penny.

Keep an eye on your dog. Is it watching you, or is it watching everything else? Is the dog keeping up with you, or is it wanting to venture off on its on?

You Lead The Pack

While some dogs may be out in front, when you change direction, the dogs should follow you.

When I make a course change, I stop, and slap my leg a couple of times. The dogs out in front know from the sound the pack is changing direction. The ones in front return to the pack, we go in the new direction, and they return to the front.

While in the woods, rarely do I have to use a verbal command for my dogs. Then again, we have been walking in the woods since they were puppies.

Final Thoughts

It is sad, but every year an untold number of family dogs get lost. Some people may think the dog will be able to follow its scent home. That may be true for some dogs, but not all.

For example, my dogs have been spotted several miles from our home. There have been times when they were gone from 5am until 10pm at night. Then again, they were raised in a rural area and are use to running the woods.

Help the family pooch safely enjoy the outdoors, but without the worry of becoming lost.

 

Read More