How to Get Your City Dog to Enjoy Hiking

Published: 5/25/2021
Hiking is a pawsome activity to enjoy with your four-legged best friend. Not only is it good exercise, but it also improves mental health for human and canine alike. Ready to take a break from the concrete jungle and spend some time outdoors with your pup? If your pooch has been an urban dweller all their life, don’t fret! Follow these tips to ease them into hiking and ensure a furrific experience that both of you will enjoy! 


#1 Talk to Your Vet
Before you and your furry friend set off, you’ll want to make sure that they’re fit enough to hit the trail. Some dogs, especially brachycephalic breeds, may not make the best hiking partners as they are more likely to overheat. Young and old dogs may also have trouble keeping up—a long hike may put too much strain on a puppy’s growing bones, while a senior pooch may have less strength and stamina. Your vet can tell you what your canine pal is capable of doing, as well as recommend any additional vaccinations they might need for the outdoors.

#2 Start Small
Even if your city pooch is used to walking several blocks each day, it’s best to start with an easy trail for their first hiking adventure and then build up their endurance from there. Pick a route that’s less than an hour long without too much incline and climbing, and keep a close eye on your pup during and after your hike. If they’re tuckered out when you get home, shorten the next hike or select an easier trail. Keep in mind that not all trails welcome four-legged hikers, so be sure to check the rules before you go. The good news is, Wag! has done the digging for you—find a puptastic trail near you with our guides on dog-friendly trails in the US!

#3 Go Early
Aside from choosing an easy hike, hitting the trail early is a great way to introduce your urban pup to the wonderful world of hiking. The earlier you go, the fewer people there will be, so you and your furry pal can spend more time exploring and less time worrying about other hikers. Remember to check the weather as well, as if it’s too hot or raining, you may want postpone the hike for another day.

#4 Take Your Time
Your city pup probably doesn’t get to spend a lot of time in nature, so let them enjoy all the refreshing sights, sounds, and smells of the outdoors! Move at a slower pace and give them lots of rest and water breaks. Follow your dog’s lead and let them pawse and lay down if they want to take five. Of course, do all of this while observing proper hiking petiquette, which includes always keeping your pooch leashed, not letting them go off trail, and yielding to other hikers.

#5 Brush Up on Obedience Training
In addition to a leash, basic obedience skills are necessary to keep your dog happy and safe during a hike. At the very least, your pup should know how to “come,” “sit,” and “stay.” A reliable recall will prevent your dog from wandering off in case you accidentally let go of the leash. “Leave it” and “drop it” are also useful cues for your dog to have in their arsenal, especially to stop them from eating something that might be harmful. There are many potential hazards on the trail such as foxtails, poison ivy, animal waste, and wildlife, but maintaining control of your pup ensures their well-being.

#6 Pack the Essentials

For a pleasant hike with your four-legged city dweller, don’t leave home without the following items:

  • Water and portable water bowl. Prepare at least one quart of water for every three miles. Never let your dog drink from streams, ponds, rivers, or standing water, which can be contaminated with parasites and pathogens. 
  • Collar with ID tags. In case you and your pup get separated. 
  • Two six-foot leashes. Bring a spare in case the first leash breaks.
  • Dog food or snacks. Your pup might get hungry mid-hike, and they need to refuel afterwards too. 
  • Dog waste bags. For cleaning up after your pooch. Always pack out filled bags. Remember to leave no trace!
  • First aid kit. There probably won’t be a vet near the trail, so buy or assemble a dog first aid kit and learn how to use it. 
  • Dog-safe insect repellent. The outdoors is home to fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes, which can transmit diseases.
  • Towel. For drying off your dog in case they get wet, cooling them down in the event of heatstroke, and wiping off muddy paws.
  • Comb. For checking for and/or removing foxtails, burrs, and insects when you get off the trail.

With a bit of planning and preparation, you and your urban canine will surely have a barking good time on the trail!