4 Tips for Hiking with Your Small Dog

Their legs might be small, but their hearts are big and full of adventure

By: Ashley ashleylakester + Save to a List

One of the biggest misconceptions is that small dogs are for laps and bigger dogs are for everything else. Well I'm here to tell you that's just not true. 

Meet Snickers, my trail poopin, tree sniffin, adventure dog! 

Why should little dogs be denied the chance to smell the mountain air and go where no dog has gone before? A dog is a dog, give them space to roam and they will run free. I've passed numerous people who have stopped me to say how impressed or surprised they are that snickers made it out this far on the trail, and how they tend to leave their little dogs at home when going hiking. This makes me sad, because every dog no matter their size should at least be given the chance to experience the euphoria of hiking. If you've ever thought your little buddy might not be able to make it on the trail, here're a couple suggestions:

1. Try a shorter, less inclined hike. 

Not every hike needs to be a treacherous mountain summit. There are plenty of hikes that are short and sweet! This is a good way to get them started and acclimated to the hiking environment without over working them. 

2. Go on a hike with a nice lunch spot to allow your four legged friend to stretch out and rest a bit longer.

Don't forget to bring lots of water for your pup and a way to drink it. Collapsible drinking dishes are great for hiking. If you forget something to use, a positive for Snickers being so small is i can cup my hands and he can drink water that way. Also, make sure to bring treats or some food, they need to re-energize too!

3. Check out your local parks and back forest roads, putting your own adventure spirit to the test.

Discover your own trail, take paths that are not as heavily used. Drive down a dirt road and then get out and explore your surroundings. If you try, you can find peace and tranquility and maybe hidden gems just outside of the city. Your pet might not need to go on a five mile hike to feel fulfilled, but simply a change of scenery and new smells will do the trick - for both of you!

4. If short hikes are just not for you and your adrenaline junkie spirit, you can do what I do...

It's true, smaller dogs may have a bit less energy than say a husky (just a bit though ;)😉  and they tend to get tired faster on the trail. Can you blame them, they're taking 5 steps per every one step you take! So I let snickers walk as much as I think he can. Usually a good sign is when he's dragging behind with the tongue out and tail down. Then I pick him up and settle him down into my backpack! This is where the real magic happens. The looks and sounds I get from other hikers I pass are undeniably worth that extra 10-15 pounds on your back. Smiles are seen and laughter and cooing are heard several feet back as we pass. I've seen grumpy hikers and focused hikers stop in their tracks and turn their frown upside down at the sight of snickers in my pack. That is probably one of my favorite things about bringing him along, is the happiness he brings to each person we pass. Don't deny that happiness to your little buddy and all the other hikers on the trail! Next time you're headed out, don't forget your little one! Just because they're small doesn't mean they don't have a big appetite for big things!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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