Hiking With Dogs
By Renee Guillory
Here are a few things to keep in mind so that you and your dog can enjoy hiking in our beautiful state for many years to come.
1. Conditioning your dog for physical activity is a must. Most of our trails have at least some rocky patches and decent elevation change, so work up to that pristine mountain vista and avoid 'panic training.'
2. Don't risk overheating Fido. From June through September, avoid low-elevation Sonoran Desert trips. Instead, head for the local hills, explore the beautiful Mogollon Rim country, seek out forests and springs around Flagstaff.
3. Bring enough water for you and your dog. Dogs get dehydrated on car rides, much less hiking, so get used to carrying water and a collapsible bowl.
4. Determine where the nearest emergency vet clinic is where you'll be hiking and have a mobile phone and an extra car key with you so that you are never stranded.
5. Bring the appropriate gear, such as doggy sunscreen and a hat for your dog (children's hats work great), and of course doggy bags to pick up waste.
6. Allow time for frequent rest and water breaks, preferably in the shade, no matter how well-conditioned your dog is.
7. If your dog is seeking shade or plopping down at every opportunity, stop! Shade her, and give her as much water as she'd like to drink. If the hottest time of the day is still before you, turn around.
8. Flexibility is a virtue - drop any idea you have of being goal-oriented when hiking with your canine family. See #7 above.
9. The best dog-hiking trails are all about location. Your dog will be much less likely to undergo heat stress if you hike where there is shade and some water along the trail so that she can cool her pads occasionally.
10. Make sure that your dog is well-trained and able to be under control on- or off-leash (and follow any leash rules for that area). Besides being a courtesy to other trail users and wildlife, this protects your dog.
11. Review canine first aid cautions and procedures.