Hiking with Your Dog: for Body, Mind and Soul

Even though we’ve all abandoned those New Year’s resolutions by now, staying active (getting active?) is so important, especially for dogs. A wise person once said, “If your dog is fat, you aren’t getting enough exercise.” With that in mind, we suggest you engage in an activity that’s fun for both you and your dog so that you’ll want to keep it up. Nature hike, anyone?

By Angel Leandres

Nothing is more fun than taking your dog on a nice, long wilderness hike! The joy and reckless abandon they exhibit is both inspirational and heartwarming. With an excited wag of their tail, they are able to bound over hills and splash through cool creeks. Unrestrained by their leash (with an exceptional, well-trained recall only of course!), they can track every tiny creature that crosses their path and chase squirrels into trees. Dogs can leap over fallen logs, chase one another, and breathe in the vast myriad of scents the natural world has to offer. A hike in the great outdoors is a favorite in every dog’s heart.

Like the wolf, dogs are physically designed to travel great distances. Their bodies are made for walking, and they derive the greatest benefits from this infinitely healthy activity. The mental stimulation they receive from using all of their senses freely is unmatched, and the physical effort of walking, running, and jumping leaves them happily exhausted at the end of the day.

Hiking is beneficial to dogs and their handlers for many reasons. While hiking is a great way to get some serious stress relief and greatly reduces boredom, it is also simply good for the soul. Being outdoors and enjoying nature is the perfect way to spend time together, to bond, and simply to enjoy each other’s company. The fresh air and tranquility of the wilderness will do you and your canine companion a world of good.

Off-leash hiking is one of the most enjoyable experiences a dog owner can have, but it must only be allowed when a dog has a near perfect recall. You need to ensure that you can call your dog to your side to be leashed at any time, for any reason. This is especially important when there are other hikers and dogs on the trail, or if there is something dangerous nearby. It is also important to obey leash laws in any given area. There are many areas where you can safely have your dog off leash. You just need to do your research and discover those places!

Hiking has an incredible effect on dogs, and you will see the benefits immediately once you incorporate this activity into your life. They will be happier, healthier, and more fulfilled members of your family for a lifetime!

Angel Leandres is a certified Animal Care Technician in Ontario, Canada and owner of K9 Instinct, who specializes in canine nutrition and obedience training. Angel has a young, purebred German Shepherd, Hunter, who is her faithful best friend, working partner, and most trusted companion in life.