Dog trekking – hiking over long distances with a dog – is an equally intense experience for humans and animals. Endurance and stamina are strengthened, as is the bond between the dog and the owner. Dog trekking can be designed as an easy day trip or a demanding hike, depending on your condition and state of health. Dog trekking is now also used as a tournament sport.
What needs to be considered when dog trekking?
Not every dog has the right conditions for long hikes. The dog should already be fully grown, since the strain on the joints is too high for young animals in the growth phase. This is especially true for demanding and longer hikes. Good physical condition prevents injuries, while caution is generally advisable for old dogs and animals with health problems. Here, a veterinarian should decide whether the burden is reasonable. The dog should also have good basic obedience and respond reliably in any situation, especially if it shows a strong hunting instinct.
Every hike must be carefully prepared, and this applies in particular to hiking with a dog. When choosing the route, not only the condition, but also the disposition of the dog should be considered. While breeds that like to run like the Border Collie or Australian Shepherd cope well with demanding routes, heavy or short-legged breeds often lack the necessary endurance. Steep paths are usually not a problem for the dog, but via ferratas, suspension bridges or very narrow passages. In addition, dog owners should inquire in advance about which areas require a leash and whether dogs are accepted in a possible accommodation. When traveling abroad, the applicable entry requirements must also be observed.
Just like humans, dogs have to be prepared for longer hikes because they are not usually used to such a high load. Three or four multi-hour hikes in the weeks before a longer tour provide the dog and owner with the necessary level of fitness. It is also helpful to extend the daily walks more and more in order to prepare the dog gently for the stress. If the dog is to carry his equipment himself during dog trekking, he must also be accustomed to the panniers, although in principle not every dog can handle the bag.
Sufficient food and equipment should be important for dog trekking. The usual dry food is ideal; Wet food, however, is only of limited use due to its perishability and higher weight. Even if the dog’s energy needs are increased during a hike, the amount of food should not be increased on the way, so as not to overload the digestion. Rather, it is advisable to get a dog in good condition before the tour, to provide him with moderate amounts of high-energy feed on the way, and to replenish the reserves according to the nutritional requirements after the hike. It is also important that there is always enough water available. Foldable travel bowls and similar solutions are particularly suitable for on the go.
First aid equipment should also be carried for the dog. A simple first aid kit for dogs contains bandage material and a disinfectant as well as tick tweezers and tweezers that can be used to remove stones or sting.
According to the regulations, touring or pulling harness is mandatory for every dog trekking. The person is connected to the dog by a leash with a shock absorber, which must not be longer than 3 m when extended.
Depending on the surface, the use of dog shoes may be advisable. Many dogs have a hard time getting used to the unusual shoes, so wearing them has to be practiced in advance. On stony paths and at low temperatures, the non-slip soles offer the necessary protection to carry out longer hikes without discomfort.
Which breeds are suitable for dog trekking?
Basically, you can hike with any healthy and full-grown dog as long as the pace and route length are adapted to the dog. Difficulties with long hikes are particularly difficult for heavy and short-legged breeds, while breeds that are generally more active, such as herding and hunting dogs, cope much better with the additional stress.
Competitions in dog trekking
Dogtrekking tournaments are also contested over distances of at least 80 km. A minimum age of the dogs – at around 18 months – and a minimum of equipment are usually required. The hikes provide a specific route and extend over several days. A good basic condition of dog and person is therefore essential.