Running with Squirrels

fostering dogs that need it most

Exercising with your dog: Part 2

Previously, we wrote the first post in a series related to exercising with your dog.

Today, we continue this series with another of our favorite ways to get out and bond with our pups … hiking!

Hiking is a great activity to get you out of the house and enjoying nature.  It’s amazing how relaxing it is to reconnect with the outdoors and let your mind wander while you trek through the trees.  But you know what makes hiking even more fun?  Bringing along your furry friends!

Hiking is a great dog activity for a number of reasons.  First, prior to being domesticated, dogs were accustomed to roaming large areas in search of food, and walking in an organized pack helped them build a sense of community amongst their fellow comrades.  This activity of walking long distances makes a dog feel like they are performing a valuable task and builds a very powerful connection with the people they work with on their walks.  Second, hiking is a great way to both mentally and physically exercise your pet.  The monotonous routine of walking along flat asphalt is certainly better than nothing, however, once you get your dog out into unfamiliar terrain with hills, rocks, and branches you can see an immediate change.  Rather than casually strolling along, they begin to engage in the activity.  This is a great way to stimulate their senses.  Combining this new terrain with all the foreign smells they must investigate provides a great opportunity for your dog to stay mentally and physically fit.  Not to mention, walking on the softer dirt paths is a great change of pace for their paw pads.

Just remember to bring plenty of water to make sure everyone is well hydrated!  It is also a good idea to take a break once in a while to allow your pups to catch their breath, especially if this is your first time hiking with them.  You may be surprised how much more tiring a short amount of hiking is to them compared to their usual walks around the concrete jungle.

We also like to outfit them with their own hiking packs.  For some reason it really makes them feel like they are on an important mission … and it also minimizes the stuff foster mom and dad have to carry!  Be careful not to load too much in their packs and we recommend practicing in smaller sessions to get them used to the feeling of walking around with them on.  Start out with empty packs for little strolls around the block and build up slowly.

Even if you live in an urban area, spend a few minutes online to see if there are any parks or trails near you.  You may be surprised to find a few spots that are closer than you thought.

Another great idea is to find out if there are any dog hiking groups in your area.  This is a perfect way to learn about new trails and work on dog socialization.  A few great groups that we have heard of are Hike-a-Bull in California, SociaBulls in Chicago, and Pittie Trails in Maryland.

Stay tuned tomorrow to hear about McMuffin’s favorite part of the hike!


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3 thoughts on “Exercising with your dog: Part 2

  1. Oscar LOVES hiking! We tried a pack on him once in the pet store and he just stood there looking at us with disdain – woudln’t move a muscle until we took it off him! LOL He was a young pup at that time, it might be worth trying again. Now that we *finally* have a foster dog with polite enough leash skills that I can walk both him and Oscar at the same time, hopefully I’ll be able to get out more with them!

    • haha that’s really funny! Sometimes Reese isn’t too pleased when we put sweaters on him and he pulls the same physical protest … then he realizes it means we are going out for a walk and he rethinks his position.

  2. Pingback: McMuffin’s favorite part about hiking « Running with Squirrels

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