Just because your pup is small in size, that doesn’t mean they can’t accomplish big things.
This past summer was my first summer with my rescue dog. I was excited to spend some time hiking together. We had a bit of leash training to combat before we hit the trails.
Once we got leash training taken care of, I decided to take him on what was probably his first-ever hike: a 4.4-mile roundtrip hike with a moderate incline and a bit of rocky terrain.
Weighing in at a whopping seven pounds, I figured the worst that could happen was I’d end up carrying him. Let’s just say, I highly underestimated him. He reached the summit with more enthusiasm than I did, with energy to spare.
For those of you who have smaller dogs, here are some tips for getting them out in the wild wilderness.
You’ll need comebacks.
Everyone who passes you will have something to say about the size of your hiking companion. Most likely things like how your “poor little dog” must be “sooo tired” because his “tiny little legs can’t possibly carry him up the WHOLE mountain.”
Insert eye roll here.
Make sure to pack plenty of water.
Bring water along for water breaks and cooling down if your dog gets too hot. You can pour the water over them, or bring a towel to soak and wipe them down, whichever you prefer.
Your dog is using more energy because of their small size to propel themselves over the terrain and rocks, so they can overheat quickly.
Know their limits.
You need to be able to gauge their capability, so keep that in mind when choosing your trail. Start with easy trails and work your way up.
Know the warning signs of overexertion and overheating. Smaller breeds are just as capable as larger breeds, but it might take more time and more breaks, and it is up to you to know when they need a break, water or a cool-down.
They need snacks, too.
Make sure to pack treats and food for your pooch. Just like you might need a little extra energy, so do they.
Small dogs are putting in a lot of work, and it’s nice to reward them with their favorite treat.
You’ll have to help occasionally.
Small dogs have no problems cruising up rocky terrain and crossing shallow streams, but there are some obstacles they shouldn’t attempt.
You’ll have to help them over steep boulders, fallen trees, water or in our case, up a fire tower at the top.
If you anticipate quite a bit of difficult terrain, bring a pack for carrying small dogs. They’re light enough to carry in your arms, but depending on the terrain, you might need access to both your arms.
Bring a first aid kit along.
Everyone should have a pet first aid kit at home, but it’s smart to have one in your pack specifically for hiking. The most common injury for dogs while hiking is cutting or damaging their pads on rocky or sharp terrain.
If one of their foot pads gets cut, it is helpful to have the pack to carry them the rest of the way, or have a boot handy to put on their injured foot, if they are still able to walk.
When you are considering activities for you and your pup, don’t think that hiking isn’t an option because of their small stature.
Small dogs just as capable as bigger pups, they just need you to pack a little more water, a few treats, and maybe take a few extra breaks along the way.
Do you hike with your small dog? If you have any tips to add, tell us in the comments below!
Images via Samantha Bubar
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