As we lace up our boots and hit the trails on this National Hiking Day, we're not just celebrating the beauty of the great outdoors, but also the incredible bond we share with our dogs. November 17th marks a special day dedicated to the simple yet profound pleasure of hiking, an activity that not only rejuvenates the body and soul but also strengthens the connection between us and nature.
Hiking with your dog
adds an extra layer of joy to this already enriching experience. The excitement in their eyes as they explore new scents, the wagging tails against the backdrop of nature's wonders – it's a shared adventure that deepens the bond between you and your dog. National Hiking Day is a reminder that the trails are not just for us; they are for our faithful companions who revel in the sights, sounds, and smells of the wilderness.
For some dog owners, the prospect of taking a nervous or reactive dog on a hike can be daunting. Trying new challenges with your fearful dog can be like a hike up a mountain! Recently, while hiking up a popular trail in Wales, I encountered a situation that highlighted the importance of being mindful of our canine companions' needs.
On the summit, there was an off-lead dog running around in slippery conditions on the rocks, with poor visibility. This scenario emphasised the significance of responsible dog ownership and awareness of our dogs' behaviour, especially in potentially hazardous environments. It's crucial for all hikers to consider the safety and well-being of their pets and others on the trail.
In the face of such challenges, I've found confidence in hiking with my anxious dog, Bella, by wrapping her in yellow. Whether it's a hint of yellow like a lead slip
or a yellow lead
, or fully wrapping her in the colour, it serves as a visual cue to let other people know about her personality and the need for space. This simple yet effective measure has proven to be a valuable tool in ensuring a positive hiking experience for both Bella and those we encounter on the trail.
Preparation is key when hiking with an anxious or reactive dog. Start with short walks in quiet parks or nature reserves to gauge their comfort level. Gradually increase the duration and complexity of the walks, allowing your dog to acclimate to the outdoor environment. Bringing familiar toys, treats, or a cosy blanket can provide a sense of security and comfort during the adventure. Opt for trails with minimal foot traffic and wide paths to avoid encounters with other hikers and dogs. Researching and choosing pet-friendly trails can make a significant difference in the overall experience for both you and your canine companion. Komoot
is a great website for planning your adventures.
Implementing positive reinforcement techniques can help ease your dog's anxiety on the trail. Reward them with treats, praise, or playtime when they exhibit calm behaviour. Our squeezy reward dispenser
is perfect for rewarding squeezy cheese or soft food and can hang from your walking belt or bag.
As we celebrate National Hiking Day, let's not forget that the trails are meant for all nature enthusiasts, including our four-legged friends. With patience, understanding, and a bit of preparation, even the most anxious or reactive dogs can partake in the joy of hiking.
So, lace up those boots, grab your lead, and hit the trails – a world of adventure awaits for both you and your loyal hiking buddy, wrapped in the safety of yellow.