Every day more and more people have their dog with them when they practice some hiking or mountain activity and even on the Way of Saint James, without a doubt the best adventure companions we could choose to share our passion. Hardly anyone is surprised to find a dog at the summit of a mountain or along a hiking trail, but there are some guidelines and observations that we must take into account if we want a pleasant day does not become a nightmare for both us and our dog friend.
Dogs, as a general rule, are very active animals that love direct contact with nature and undoubtedly enjoy doing any activity with us, but as living beings it is our responsibility not to expose them to situations, risks or efforts that could harm them. For this reason, as if they were a person, before getting fully involved in an activity we must take into account a series of guidelines to follow.
The photo is of our friend Brieva, author Guillermo Ibáñez
The physical preparation of our dog is fundamental, we cannot think that for going down with him to the park that there is next to our house, and that he has some races, he is already prepared for any route that we decide to carry out. In addition, each breed of dog has its specific characteristics, it is not the same or have the same capabilities a Pointer that a Fox Terrier, so it is important to choose correctly the route or activity that we go to perform and that best suits our friend.
For them the natural environment provides a great number of stimuli in the form of smells and sensations that we do not even perceive and that are what will really make them enjoy the route. This saturation added to the novelty of the territory that is treading can, of not having a good communication with our dog, do that this one due to his excitement does not attend to any of our calls and ends up getting lost, especially if they are not used to be in the middle of nature.
Just as we equip ourselves with technical clothing, boots and everything else necessary for the route we are going to take, our dog is no exception. We cannot fall into the mistake of thinking that our dog is as adapted as the animals that live in the forests and mountains we will pass through. It is important to prepare him and take him what he may need along the route.
Today there are a large number of dog articles designed for this type of activity, from backpack type saddlebags, reinforced harnesses to be able to secure it if necessary, boots to protect the pads and even reflectors and lights to help locate it. We must think that boots protect us and isolate us from the cold of snow, from abrasive and sharp stones, or from the excessive temperature that stones exposed to the sun in summer take. But our dog, no matter how accustomed the paw pads are to this kind of conditions, if we add the mileage he travels, he can surely be injured. Also identify with some plate, in addition to the chip and make more visible to our dog with vests or harnesses of bright colors can avoid some displeasure. If we decide that he should carry his own backpack, this one should not exceed in a 10% approximately the weight of the animal.
Feeding and hydration is another factor to take into account given the marked metabolism of dogs. The energy that our friend consumes, above all if it is cold, is considerable so if he accompanies us to this type of activities it is important to give him a food that contains a greater energy contribution. It is important not to let him eat too much before starting the route and, of course, always take him some food so that he can recover his energy as we do. Nor should we forget about hydration, we can fall into the trap of thinking that water from streams, ponds or springs is enough and, depending on the activity, it is not. Our dog also needs to recover mineral salts so it is not too much to count on an isotonic drink for him. It is also not a good idea to leave it to chance or to trust the presence of water along the route. Not to mention the heat, which will undoubtedly affect our dog's water needs.
As in the previous sections, common sense is a good starting point, not demanding or exposing our dog to efforts or situations that he cannot cope with is something fundamental for him and us to enjoy the activity. The age and physical condition of our friend and his preparation is something to take into account. Without a doubt, our regular vet will be a great ally when it comes to advising and informing us about it, so that we can adapt the routes to his capabilities and minimize possible risks or injuries.
The heat or cold not only affect us, they can also suffer from heat stroke or hypothermia in winter, in fact for example the heat affects them more than we can imagine, so hydrate them well and protect them from cold or heat is something we can not leave aside, if we do not want a nice day of walking or mountain becomes a nightmare for both him and us.
The photo is of our friend Kantina
The photo is of our friend Superman
It would be important for him to include in our first aid kit, which we should always carry in our rucksack, antihistamines that give us some leeway in the event of a sting, a moisturizing cream for his pads and material to be able to treat possible cuts or injuries in the first place.
Processionnaires, spikes, ticks ... are added to the risks that the natural environment has in itself, we must not forget that our dog also has its fears, which will undoubtedly generate stress and less security in their movements, as well as more fatigue than normal. But once the route is finished the care does not end, it is advisable to examine him for possible parasites that could have got into his skin or his coat.
Currently, at least in Spain, except in national parks, nature reserves and in some specific areas, there are no specific regulations, except for the so-called dangerous breeds.
It is in these places where, in addition to other recommendations or limitations of passage, it is necessary to take our dog tied. In the rest of the places it is up to us to choose this circumstance, although it is not too much to bear in mind that not everybody has to like dogs and even many people are afraid of them. Without forgetting that we can be crossing places in which taking them tied contributes to their own security. If we move through the Pyrenees we will have to count on the restriction that in the French national parks affects the passage with dogs, which is totally prohibited, under strong fines.
Every day more and more establishments admit pets among their guests and shelters, hostels and campsites among others are no exception. But just as with the different regulations governing the places we are going to pass through, it is important to find out in advance, when we are preparing the route, to avoid unnecessary complications.
As we have already mentioned in some sections, common sense reigns when it comes to enjoying hiking in the mountains or the Way of Saint James, and it is no exception if we want to do it in the company of our dog, for which we are responsible and which we must look after and protect in the same way that he does and would do for us, so that we can enjoy countless hiking and mountain routes with my dog.