Hiking is not just for humans:

There are many places where pets are welcome to join you on your nature walk or hike. Image: Pixabay

Hiking is not just for humans: Rope your furry friends in too

Here’s what you’ll need to keep animals comfortable on your next outdoor adventure.

Hiking is not just for humans:

There are many places where pets are welcome to join you on your nature walk or hike. Image: Pixabay

Hiking is one of our favourite pastimes and South Africa is home to an array of spectacular landscapes that are crisscrossed with all kinds of trails, from leisurely forest routes to rugged mountain paths and flat footpaths following meandering rivers.  

Heading out into the great outdoors doesn’t mean you have to leave your furry friends at home. Many paths and trails are pet-friendly nowadays, and dogs are welcome to join in as their owners enjoy the surroundings.

It is always advisable, however, before taking your animals along, that you are aware of the approximate length and duration of the route, and whether there are any obstacles that could be problematic for your pet.

Right gear essential when hiking with furry friends

If you are planning on taking your four-legged friends on an outdoor adventure, you must have the right gear to ensure they are well-watered, comfortable and safe, puppyleaks.com suggests.

Make sure they are microchipped and have a collar with their details, such as name and a contact number in case of emergency. It’s also a good idea to regularly de-flea, de-tick and de-worm them if they are going to be coming in contact with other dogs in open spaces.

In terms of gear, there are a few essentials that should be taken with you when venturing out on a hike, walk or climb.

A Portable Water Bowl

The most important item to take with you when you walk is water and the same goes for your pets. Make sure they have enough water and stop to drink regularly.

A portable, collapsible water bowl is a must-have item when hiking with your dog. All you need to do is bring a bottle of water with you to fill it up. A lightweight bottle is a good idea.

And don’t forget your poop bag! Don’t spoil the walk for everyone else by not cleaning up after your pet.

A secure Lead

A lead is another important item to have with you. While some routes allow dogs to roam free, most will require them to be on leads, so it’s vital to have one with you. The length and the thickness of the lead will depend on the size of your animal.

A retractable dog lead is a good idea for energetic or young dogs. This type of lead allows them to move with greater freedom, and removes the risk of choking and tightness that can occur with a standard collar and lead.

A well-fitting Harness

A harness is a good item to have if your pooch isn’t used to the great outdoors. Padded harnesses are comfortable and usually have two clips where the lead can be attached, which offers much better control over your cat or dog’s movements.

Yes, cats can also be trained to walk on leads, but a harness in addition to the lead is advisable as cats have been known to slip out of leads with consummate ease!

A Pet Carrier for your furry friends

Pet carriers are great options for smaller or older pets who aren’t able to walk very far, but still want to enjoy an outdoor adventure. If you are a cat lover and want to take your cat on a walk, a pet carrier is a good option to avoid your cat coming into contact with dogs.

You will need to make sure your cat is accustomed to venturing out in a carrier, and in the event of encountering other people and animals. It is usually best to socialise them for this kind of activity when they are still kittens.

Top Tips for Hiking with Your Dog

  • Use a front-clip harness if your dog pulls
  • Let your dog sniff around for mental stimulation
  • Always pick up your dog poop
  • Bring plenty of water for your dog
  • Make sure your dog is wearing proper identification
  • Watch out for hot pavements in the summer
  • Keep your dog interested by bringing along treats and toys
  • Ask before approaching other dogs
  • Wear reflective gear at night or on overcast days
  • Above all, have fun!