Hiking with a dog: our tips for being prepared

Walking in the mountains, as you know, is an activity that has numerous benefits for body and mind. If an outing is a panacea for a person, for a dog it can be a real adventure in which to discover new environments, new smells, and new stimuli.

A hike in the mountains is also the perfect opportunity to strengthen the bond between dog and owner and to spend time with this additional member of the family.

Whether on holiday or on a day hike, you should consider taking your furry friend with you, especially to find relief from the high temperatures of the summer season. Remember, however, that walking in the mountains with your dog requires special care as the pet is your responsibility.

In this article you will find some valuable tips and discover some of the best trails for hiking with your dog!


Trekking with a dog


Hiking with a dog: things to know

If you decide to take your dog on a mountain hike, careful organisation and preparation is required. Attention must be paid to the type of trail and its limitations, the training of your dog, and what to carry in your backpack.


Are mountain trails suitable for dogs?

First of all, we must remind you that dogs are not always allowed on mountain trails. In general, it is usually fine to take a dog with you on a hike, but some areas, especially national parks, restrict access to our four-legged friends or lay down precise rules, such as a leash requirement.

Apart from these limitations, there are also practical limits to be taken into account before embarking on a hike with your dog. Obviously, you should not go on a via ferrata accompanied by your dog, nor should you tackle paths that are too exposed or too rocky, as this would put your dog in danger.

Always educate yourself before setting off so that you can avoid any unsuitable trails.


Even dogs must be trained for a mountain hike

Like humans, dogs should also be trained before tackling a demanding activity which they are not used to. In order to best prepare your four-legged friend, you should take them on frequent walks, starting with short, easy hikes and gradually increasing the length of the itinerary.

If you notice that the dog often stops in shady areas and lies on the ground or is short of breath, it means that he is very tired so you should stop and take a longer break.


Can all types of dogs walk in the mountains?

There are dog breeds that are better suited for strenuous physical activity and others that are not suitable for long walks. For example, the physical structure and leg type of dachshunds are unsuitable for mountain hikes, just as the short muzzle of pugs and bulldogs can lead to breathing problems during long efforts.

Before taking your dog in the mountains, we recommend that you visit your vet and ask if there are any special precautions you should take according to the breed of your furry friend.

Hiking in the mountains puts a strain on joints and bones, so if you have a puppy, you should not take them with you. In general, a dog should be at least one years old to be developed enough to undertake a hike. If a dog is elderly, or has back or hip problems, it is best to avoid taking it along.


Dog in the mountains: free or on a leash?

In the mountains, dogs are not always allowed to walk without a leash, so it is always a good idea to check the restrictions in the area in which you intend to hike.

When it is possible to keep your dog off-leash, several things should be taken into consideration when deciding whether or not to use a leash:

  • Breed: Some dog breeds are more docile or obedient while others are more independent and stubborn
  • Character: Some dogs tend to track and explore, which in some cases is dangerous because they can injure themselves, get lost, disturb other people or animals, or attract dangerous wild animals (wolves, wild boar, bears).
  • Trail crowding: When walking on very crowded trails it is a good idea to keep your dog on a leash to avoid them getting in the way or bothering other people.
  • Difficulty of the trail: If you have to tackle a challenging passage, it is good to have your dog on a leash so that you can point them in the right direction and be able to catch them in the event of a fall.


What to do at the end of a hike with a dog?

After the hike it is a good idea to make sure your dog is doing well and reward them with a snack for their efforts. It is a good idea to brush your four-legged friend to remove leaves, seeds, and thorns, checking especially delicate areas, such as ears and toes. It is recommended to check for signs of abrasion in the toe-pads, especially if you have walked along a path with many rocks.

Finally, ticks should be checked and removed, or a vet should be contacted. To prevent this, it would be best to treat your animal in advance with an antiparasiticide.


Trekking with a dog


Hiking with a dog: how to pack your backpack

If you decide to go on a hike with your dog, don’t forget to bring supplies for them too. Below we have come up with a list of things to have with you during a mountain hike with your dog:

  • Water: Fountains or streams are not always easy to find on mountain trails, so it is good to have water with you at all times, both for yourself and for your pet.
  • Water bowl (or water bottle dispenser): This is essential to allow your dog to drink comfortably without wasting water.
  • Food: Dry food is preferable to wet food because it does not have to be kept cool. Before setting off, ask your vet about the amount of food your dog should eat during a hike. It is best to wait at least an hour after your dog’s morning meal before setting off, so they don’t make themselves sick by exercising too soon after eating. It is also recommended to bring some snacks for your four-legged friend to eat during the hike.
  • Collapsible food bowl: To allow your dog to eat comfortably.
  • Leash: Preferably a long one to allow the dog to explore more freely. We recommend you carry a spare leash as your dog may encounter obstacles like rocks and trees that could cause the leash to wear out.
  • GPS for dogs: If you have a dog that tends to follow tracks, they may decide to wander off on its own and this can be a problem, especially in the mountains. A GPS for dogs, as well as the one for humans, which we have discussed in this article, can save your pet's life.
  • Muzzle: In some places this is mandatory, such as on ski lifts and in some mountain lodges.
  • Identification tag: To be contacted in case the dog is lost and someone finds it.
  • Harness: Preferable to a collar, as if the dog slips, it can be lifted without putting pressure on their neck and risking suffocation.
  • Droppings bags: To avoid leaving your dog's waste along the paths.
  • First-aid kit for dogs: Available in specialised shops and containing forceps, magnifying glass, disinfectant spray, tick repellent, and bandages.
If you often take your dog on hikes, it is also advisable to have an insurance policy that covers any damage to persons or property caused by your four-legged friend, or that covers the costs of first aid in the event of serious injury.

It is also good to remember that if you want to take your dog abroad, you must have an EU pet passport and you must be in possession of a rabies vaccination certificate.


Dog in the mountains


Top 5 Best Dog Hikes in Northern Europe

If you plan to visit Northern Europe, you should know that there are many dog-friendly trails. We have selected a few ones that both you and your four-legged friend might enjoy!


Old Man Of Storr (Scotland)

This easy trail on the Isle of Skye offers breathtaking views of the sea and the majestic rock pinnacles that characterise the area. This itinerary is also suitable for children and is therefore very busy, especially on weekends. the terrain is uneven in places, so it is advisable to use good hiking shoes.

  • Area: Isle of Skye, Scotland
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Duration: 2h


Giant's Gate and Causeway loop trail (Northern Ireland)

This loop trail passes through one of the most spectacular places in Europe, the Giant's Causeway. The itinerary is easy and allows you to discover the extraordinary volcanic rocks that have inspired myths and legends about giants for centuries. You can bring your dog, but it is mandatory to keep them on a leash.

  • Area: Antrim, Northern Ireland
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Duration: 1h


Hiking to Whitsand Bay (England)

Starting from the village of Cawsand, you can take an easy trail that runs along Whitsand Bay which offers a beautiful view of the sea. Dogs will enjoy this nature trail and can play in the sand and ocean waves.

  • Area: Cornwall, England
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Duration: 2h


Kullaberg-Mölle loop trail (Sweden)

Nature trails, dense forests, and rocky beaches: you can see it all on the loop trail starting in Mölle. This nature trail, ideal for birding enthusiasts, is also perfect for dogs as long as they are on a leash.

  • Area: Skåne, Sweden
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Duration: 2h


Trekking to Måtinden (Norway)

If you are visiting the north of Norway, you absolutely must visit Måtind, a mountain that offers an extraordinary view of the Norwegian coast, specifically the Høyvika beach. The trek to the summit is quite easy and can also be done with a dog.
  • Area: Nordland, Norway
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Duration: 2h


GROOVE MID G-DRY: comfort and versatility

This model is perfect for hiking and for your walks in the mountains with your dog. The dual-density midsole guarantees stability and comfort when walking, while the Garmont G-DRY membrane keeps out wind and water. The roomy fit also makes this shoe perfect for everyday use.