One of the beautiful things about living in Los Angeles is that our metropolis is surrounded by nature. Our weather allows you to drive one hour to snow, and an hour in the opposite direction to the beach, all in the same day. In between the mountains and the beaches are tons of canyons and trails that LA residents love to explore with their dogs. Here are 5 essentials for hiking with your dog.
1. Basic Obedience Training
Ironically, this is the most important thing to have, yet it’s the one thing that people do not consider before taking their dogs out in nature. Most people go to the trails and just unclip Fido’s leash… This can be very dangerous for the wildlife, other people, other dogs, and most importantly, for your dog as well. With that being said, if you do unclip your dog’s leash, your recall needs to be rock solid! You are guaranteed to come across other hikers, other dogs(some off leash), wildlife, and an array of interesting smells and sights. A dog that won’t obey you around high distractions should be left at home. Dog training is an essential component to your dog living a happy and full life.
2. First Aid Kit
When hiking with your dog, you should always have a first aid kit. It’s your first line of defense in the event that something happens to your beloved pet on the trail or back country. In addition, I recommend that every dog owner take a first aid course.(Email firstname.lastname@example.org for first aid course schedules in Los Angeles.) Some people gather all the components from their local drug stores, pet stores and veterinarians, but you can buy complete kits pretty cheap online. First Aid Kit
3. ID tags & Microchips
Fact… dogs get lost. Your dog should always wear ID tags that aren’t faded and are easy to read. The tags should include their name, your name, your phone number and maybe an email address. In addition to an ID tag, I recommend that everyone get their dogs microchipped. In the event that Fido ends up in a shelter, this will help the shelter get in contact with you to let you know they’ve found him. The great thing about microchips is they are implanted under the dog’s skin so they can’t fall off or get snagged during vigorous outdoor play.
Here are a couple of microchip options. Ask your vet which company they use:
4. Leash & Collar
You should have a leash on you at all times, even if local park ordinances don’t require it. I would recommend a leash made of climbing rope or leather. Flexi leads are fragile, get tangled easily, and will become cumbersome. Keep in mind that even if you can control your dog, you are not in control of the environment. Leashed dogs are safe dogs. There are a lot of natural hazards on the trails and canyons like cliffs, wild animals, sharp rocks, poison plants, etc… A dog running off-leash is much more likely to be hurt or get lost.
Don’t count on natural water being available on the hike with your dog. Streams and creeks are amazing for keeping Fido cool, but just like us, dogs are vulnerable to giardiasis and other water-borne illnesses. You can throw a couple of extra water bottles in your bag or in your dog’s pack. Collapsible nylon bowls are also good to have. You can find them at places like REI
Just a few of things to keep in mind next time you and Fido are rushing out the door to Runyon or Malibu Canyon…