10 Things to Do Before Going on A Hike with A Dog

going on a hike with a dog

Going on a hike with your dog is not only fun but is also a great way to strengthen and improve your relationship with your four-legged best friend. The idea of going on a hike with your dog might seem a bit intimidating at first, but things are going to smoothly if you’re well prepared.

The 9 things to do before going on a hike with a dog include:

  • Researching the area you’re going to hike and learning about its laws when it comes to dogs.
  • Making sure that your dog is wearing an ID tag.
  • Using a loose leash while hiking.
  • Having a first aid kit.

That’s not all, of course. Continue reading to know the remaining five things that you’ll need to do before going on a hike with your dog.

Going on a hike with a dog prep

You know now a couple of the things that you must do before going on a hike with your dog, so let’s start by listing all of the nine things that you need to.

going on a hike with a dog
  1. Researching the area you’re going to hike and learning about its laws when it comes to dogs.
  2. Making sure that your dog is wearing an ID tag.
  3. Using a loose leash while hiking.
  4. Having a first aid kit.
  5. Grooming your dog’s hair
  6. Trimming your dog’s nails.
  7. Grooming your dog’s paws
  8. Having disposable bags for poop
  9. Having a slicker brush
  10. Having enough food and water for both of you

Now that you know all of the nine things that you should do before taking your dog on a hike, let us dive into more details on how and why you should do them.

1) Research the area that you’re going to hike

It is really important to research the park or whatever place you plan on taking your dog to ensure that you’re not breaking any laws unintentionally.

Did you know that dogs are not allowed in the majority of national parks in the United States? Some dog-friendly parks require you to keep your dog on a leash, which is something that I am going to discuss very soon.

If you don’t follow these rules, you might get fined. However, that is not the worse thing that could happen.

In certain cities, if you’re hiking with your dog near a herd of cows or any other animals, the owner of the herd has the right to shoot your dog if they feel like their livestock is in danger.

2) Your dog’s ID tag

It is always better to be safe than sorry. Make sure that your dog’s collar has an ID tag that has the following information:

  • Your name
  • Your Address
  • Your phone number
  • Your dog’s name

This is just in case something happens and you lose your dog, but you should always keep then on leash while taking them on a hike.

3) Using a loose leash

You might now have a basic idea on why you need to take your dog leash while taking them on a hike, but I am going to summarize them in a small list.

going on a hike with a dog

Here is the list:

  • To follow the park’s rules.
  • To prevent your dog from attacking any other animals.
  • To avoid losing your dog
  • To prevent your dog from drinking from any body of water out there because they might contain parasites.
  • To prevent your dog from getting rabbies from other sick animals
  • To prevent your dog from annoying other people hiking.

Kindly note that you should use a leash that isn’t too long to prevent other dogs and wildlife from tripping over.

I would recommend attaching the leash to a chest clip harness. That way, there isn’t going to be much stress put on your dog’s neck. Also, it is a great harness choice if your dog is a puller.


Well, because whenever your dog attempts to pull, they will be redirected to face your direction instead.

But how do I get the correct harness size for my dog?

If you don’t have a harness yet, don’t worry. I will tell you how to measure your dog and figure out their perfect size in only a couple of minutes.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a one size fits all dog harness, and that makes perfect sense because dog breeds vary greatly in size.

Here are the harness measuring steps that you should take:

First, you’re going to measure your dog’s chest area.

1) Make sure you measure around your dog’s widest points of their chest area with a measuring tape.

2) Add a couple of inches to the number you get to avoid getting a harness that is too tight that it leaves your dog feeling uncomfortable.

3) Grab a pen and a piece of paper and write down the number you get.

Next, you’re going to measure the circumference of your dog’s neck.

1) Note that this isn’t so important because some harnesses don’t have an opening for the neck, but do it anyways to be prepared.

2) Simply use the measuring tape and write down the number.

Finally, you’re going to measure your dog’s weight.

You might already know your dog’s weight from your their recent vet visit, but it is okay if you don’t. All you have to do is the following:

  1. Pick up your dog and step on the scale.
  2. Get off the scale and write down the number you got.
  3. Step up back again on the scale again. However, do it alone this time.
  4. Get off the scale and write the number you got.
  5. Now, subtract the number the smaller number from the bigger number and viola! You know have your dog’s current weight.

Knowing your dog’s weight isn’t an essential aspect to know during harness shopping. However, this is going to help the employee at the shop you’re visiting find you the perfect harness size for your dog.

Generally, this why it is important to measure your dog before going to a pet store and purchasing a harness. If you go prepared, then whoever is working at that pet store will be able to help you find the perfect harness size.

Make sure you perform the two-finger rule to make sure that the harness isn’t too tight. If you can insert two fingers between the harness and your dog’s body at several points, then congrats on setting the perfect harness size for your dog.

If you want to learn more about harnesses and you’re interested in harness training your dog, then check out my Dog Training Harness: Ultimate Guide blog post.

4) Take a First Aid kit

Having a first aid is essential for you and your four-legged best friend. A lot of the things found in these kits are surprisingly useful for your beloved dog as well.

For example, tweezers can be used to remove whatever gets into your dogs pads. You’ll have alcohol to disinfect injuries, and gauze to wrap up the injury.

It would be great if you can throw in a styptic powder into your First Aid kit in case something happens and your dog ends up bleeding.

5) Groom your dog’s hair

If your dog’s hair has grown to be too long, then make sure you give them a haircut to.


Because it gives pollens and other sticky things more room to stick to. Also, if your dog’s hair is short, it will be easier for you to do a tick and flea check-up after your hike is over.

We already have a blog post that goes in-depth about how to trim your dog’s hair at home. I even mention separate hair trimming routines, depending on what type of hair your dog has.

going on a hike with a dog

Make sure that you read our How to Cut My Dog’s Hair at Home? The Guide You Will Need blog post.

6) Trim your dog’s nails

It really important that you trim your dog’s nails before taking them on a hike if their nails are long.


Because long nails could lead to serious problems like joint pain. Long nails are also prone to getting torn and ripped. They could even make your dog slip and fall.

How can I trim my dog’s nails?

Let us start with what you’re going to need. In order to trim your dog’s nails, you’re only going to need three things. These three things are:

  1. Clippers
  2. Treats
  3. Styptic powder ( clotting powder)

There are different types of clippers out there. The most popular nail clippers are:

  • Scissor clippers
  • Grinders
  • Guillotine clippers

Today, I am only going to talk about how you can trim your dog’s nails using a grinder. If you want to learn more about the other options and how to use them, then make sure you read our How to Clip Dog Nails ( A Guide) blog post.

What makes grinders great is that they’re basically motorized nail filers! The grinder trims your dog’s nails by grinding small bits of their nail, making it safer than the other options, especially if your dog’s nails are black.


Black nails are a bit challenging to trim because you can’t see the quick. The quick is basically the blood vessels that supply your dog’s nails with blood. One must always cut after the quick to avoid making their dog bleed and experience pain.

With the other two tools, you clip an entire piece of the nail off with one movement. On the other hand, grinders on file your dog’s nails, making it harder for your dog’s quick to get cut.

If you don’t have a grinder, you can check out our PAWGRND™: USB Rechargeable Dog Nail Grinder | Safe Pet Nail Grinder here.

To trim your dog’s nails, simply follow these steps:

going on a hike with a dog - a dog sitting happily on a chair with their nails placed on the table
  • Pick up the grinder and trim your dog’s nails. Don’t trim them to be too short, but try to make them a bit shorter than they were. If your dog’s nails are white, then trim until there is half-inch of nail left before the quick ( the pink area) ends.
  • Don’t forget to give your dog some treats after every nail you finish trimming.
  • In case you accidentally grind their nails too short and they start bleeding, use the styptic powder to stop the bleeding.
  • You will do so by pouring some of the powder into your palms, then dipping your dog’s bleeding nail in it.
  • Hold your dog’s nail in the powder for thirty seconds, then lift their paw and make them sit down.
  • Prevent them from licking the powder by giving them some treats as a distraction.
  • The bleeding should stop after seven minutes. However, if it doesn’t, then repeat the process again.
  • If the bleeding doesn’t stop in an hour, then take your dog to the veterinarian immediately.

7) Groom the hair between your dog’s paws

As with your dog’s body hair, the hair between their paws is even more prone to getting spikes attached to, which might lead to the spike poking their paws. That is why you should also trim the hair between your dog’s paws.

I will briefly explain how to trim the hair between your dog’s paws using the On the Table Method.

You’re only going to need four things, which are:

  • A comb
  • A safety harness
  • A slicker brush
  • Scissors/ Safety shears

This method is great if your dog isn’t trained yet to take commands. Now, let me take you through the process of trimming the hair between your dog’s paws.

1) Gather your tool and set them up on your dog’s grooming table.

2) Put your dog on the table and hold them in place using a safety harness. This will protect them when they start moving around and thus preventing them from falling and getting hurt.

3) Give them some treats after they’re secured in place and pat them to reward and calm them down.

4) Lay your dog down and start trimming the hair between your dog’s rear paws.

5) Simply lift their paw and flip it so you can their pads.

6) Start brushing and combing the hair to remove any hair matting.

7) Now, trimming the hair between your dog’s paws with the scissors or safety shears. Make sure you leave at least half of inch of hair growing from the skin and only cut after that.

8) Remove the hair between your dog’s toes by pressing gently on your dog’s paw. This movement is going to make your dog spread their toes, which will allow you to reach and cut the hair that is around your dog’s toes.

9) Reward your dog with some treats and repeat the smae process with the three remainingpaws.

8) Have enough disposable bags

You’re doing is going to be pooping a lot while you’re hiking, so make sure you have enough disposable bags to pick up their feces. Don’t forget to correctly dispose those bags.

For example, if there are no garbage bins around, then don’t leave the non biodegradable bag on the ground. Keep it with you till you find a garbage bin.

9) Take your dog’s slicker brush

Take a slicker brush with you to help you remove anything that gets stuck onto your dog’s coat whenever it is necessary.

going on a hike with a dog

Your dog might pass through some bushes, and get some spikes and other things attached to their hair, which could end up scratching their skin. So throw a slick brush into your bag before you go on a hike with your dog.

10) Take enough food and water for both of you

If you’re only going on a short hike, then there is no need for you to get any food. Only take some treats for your dog.

However, if your going on a long hike, then make sure you take with you a bigger serving portion than what your dog usually has for lunch or dinner because they’ll need more food to compensate for the energy exerted while hiking.

Make sure you take a big water bottle and a bowl for your dog and bowl to replenish them multiple times during the hike.

Of course, don’t forget to pack a water bottle and some snacks for you as well.

Extra things to prepare if you’re hiking during the winter or on rainy days

Blankets, towels, and pads

You never know what might happen while hiking during the winter or a rainy seasons make sure you bring a towel to dry your dog and get two blankets or a pad for you and your dog in case something happens while you’re hiking.

Boots for your dog

Boots are very important because they protect your dog’s paws from snow, thorns, and even rocks. So even if it is not snowing, it is better to make your dog wear their boots.

Beware though, because, like babies, dogs often lose a boot when they’re wearing them. To prevent that, simply tighten their shoes a bit and look at their legs frequently to make sure that they’re wearing all four of their boots.

If your dog doesn’t have any boots, then feel free to check out our High Waist Waterproof Boots.

That’s it for today’s post. You should now have a clear picture of how to plan and prepare for a hike with your dog. If you have questions regarding today’s post, then please feel free to leave them in the comments section down below.

Have you ever taken your dog on a hike? If you did and you feel comfortable sharing your experiences with, then please let us know how your hike went in the comments down below.

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