What’s better than going for a hike? Only bringing your favorite furry friend along with you! My sister, Mary, and I brought Cooper up Mount Watatic in Ashburnham, MA and I made note of some aspects of hiking with a dog that I think are important to keep in mind:
#1 Food and Water: Regardless of the dog or the hike, it’s important to pack lots of water, food and a bowl for them to eat/drink out of. They’re burning lots of calories (especially under a fur coat) and because they can’t tell you verbally when they’re thirsty, you have to frequently offer them water.
#2 Pay attention: Aside from watching where your footing is and checking if you will stumble on roots, it’s important to make sure your dog won’t be cutting its paw on a sharp rock, and make sure that they are comfortable with the hike and its intensity. Don’t be afraid to slow your pace down or turn around if it’s too much for them!
#3 Stay in Control: For the eager-hiking-dog owners, I suggest bringing a rope leash and not a retractable leash. As much as I love to let Cooper explore, it’s no fun having to go 25 feet into the forest off trails because he chased a chipmunk and got tangled. Also, be sure to pace them (especially on the downhills), any dog can get overwhelmed with the momentum and suddenly you’re running down the mountain using all your strength to hold back your dog.
#4 Be Respectful: This means being mindful to other hikers on the trails as well as the ecosystem around you. Clean up your dogs poop, and dispose it in a trash bin (don’t just leave the bag on the side of the trails). That also includes not letting them off leash unless the trail indicates that it is permitted.
If you do decide to try hiking with your dog, Watatic is a great mountain that is simple enough for medium- big size dogs. Also if you decide to stop at Cherry Hill Ice Cream Too to treat yourself after a hike, they offer a “puppy-cup” so your hiking partner can enjoy some ice cream too!