Giving Dogs a Break While Hiking
Kevin Felts 05.09.18
Taking the family dog on a hiking trip is a wonderful way to get back to nature. Archaeology shows humans were using domesticated wolves to hunt mammoth around 30,000 years ago. While mammoths are long gone, dogs still retain their primitive instincts to hunt. Ask a wild hog hunter how much dogs enjoy chasing wild pigs and it should become evident how much dogs love being in nature.
As the weather warms up and people hit the hiking trails, we should pay attention to the needs of our canine friends. It’s not like the dog can say, “Hey, I am getting too hot.” It is up to us to observe the dog and make sure it does not get too hot or dehydrated.
Sometimes my dogs and I walk along pipelines or power lines that run through wilderness areas. Both are wide open and get plenty of sun. However, this also means the dogs are in direct sunlight while we are hiking.
From time to time, I will step into the woods and stop walking. The dogs will stop, sit in the shade for a little while, cool off, then we will continue on our way.
When the dogs and I arrive at a stream, I make sure to stop and let them cool off. The dogs will lay down in the water and drink as much as they can.
One of my dogs has a habit of drinking too fast, and he will start coughing because of it.
The dogs will cool off, start playing, then get in the water to cool off again.
Depending on heat, and how long since our last rest break, the dogs and I may sit at a creek until I see them starting to urinate. When they urinate, I figure they are rehydrated and back on the trail we go.
Some Dogs Do Better Than Others
From my observations, it seems some dog breeds do better in the the heat than others. My lab/hound mix has a rough time in the heat. He also tires more easily than the other dogs.
The cur dog on the other hand rarely gets tired and rarely stops for water. Only during the hottest of days will the cur dog stop and lie down in the water. When he does stop for a rest break, it is only for a couple of minutes.
My black female lab, she loves to get in the water whenever she can.
Let’s watch for signs such as heavy panting, fatigue, and not urinating. While the reader may not be hot or need a rest break, the dog may.
Dogs which do not spend a lot of time outdoors, overweight dogs, and dogs who may not be acclimated to the heat may have issues on warm/hot weather hiking trips.
Let’s be mindful and pay attention to our pets as we enjoy the outdoors.