In many cases, the pets we choose mirror our own personalities. They follow us loyally and enjoy the same activities as we do.
A lot of us take our dogs with us on hiking trips, and we both love every minute!
But… how do you cope if your dog hates hiking or camping or simply being outdoors?
As pet owners, we notice pretty immediately when something isn’t to our dog’s liking.
They may show you their disdain by being less obedient than usual, refusing to move forward on trails, or appearing restless in general.
It can be disappointing when your pup doesn’t respond well to hitting the trails, but there are some steps you can take to attempt to turn them into the perfect hiking hound!
Ease your dog into hiking
As with introducing anything that’s new to your dog, the best course of action is to slowly ease them into it.
Your dog may not be thrilled about a challenging new activity, especially if your destined trails involve heights and uneven ground!
Regular walks around your neighborhood roads and playing in a manicured lawn is much different on your dog’s paws than the terrain of uneven trails.
To get them ready for regular hiking trips, it’s best to start slow and work your way up to the miles-long trails.
Start by testing their reactive to soft ground trails in your city park and work your way to longer and longer distance walks. This will also let you see how they behave towards other walkers and dogs in a natural environment.
Consider obedience training
If your dog is acting unruly on the hikes you’ve attempted, they may be in need of further obedience training. Nobody wants to be the guy with an obnoxious pup that intrudes on other animals and hiker’s fun.
Your dog doesn’t necessarily have to be trained to obey off-leash, but it’s not a bad idea to work towards that as a goal.
At the very least, your hound should be well trained and respond to basic commands such as “come,” “sit,” “stay,” and “no” or “leave it.”
Always have a leash on-hand to keep them nearby and a at safe distance from the danger of any wild animals (like skunks or bears), unfriendly dogs on the trails, or poisonous plants and berries you may encounter.
Is your dog in good shape?
One reason your dog may not be motivated on hikes is their level of physical fitness.
Before training them to go on hikes with you, it’s important to assess their body type and how hiking will affect them.
Take your pup to the vet for a checkup to ensure their weight, body-type, and health allows them to hit the trails.
If they aren’t in peak shape to hit the trails this coming weekend, you can begin conditioning your couch puppy with regular exercise.
Take them on brisk walks each day, and try adding on distance over the course of several weeks, to prime them for longer hikes through nature.
This will guarantee your pup is in peak physical condition to handle long hikes and rule out tiredness or age as the culprit of their dislike of hiking they had in the first place.
Opt for other outdoor activities
If all else fails when trying to persuade your dog to enjoy hiking, you may want to experiment with other outdoor activities.
Could it just be the long distances that your pup isn’t keen on? Or is the activity of being outdoors in general?
Testing out other outdoor activities together can help you coax your pup into hiking gradually, or just give you two the adventurous memories you’ll remember forever!
In any situation, it’s important not to force your pup into something or an activity they have anxiety towards. They may just miss you so much on days you’re gone hiking enough that they’ll warm up to the idea of tagging along!
Accept your dog for who they are
As of writing this, I personally have two dogs.
My Dalmatian/Boxer mix enjoys being outside, but can only take so much.
After an hour or two he’s usually a bit overheated (even though he has a shorter coat), and will start pulling back towards the car. He prefers the dog park where he can play for a bit and then just lounge under a bench or tree in the shade.
On the other hand, I have a Carolina Dog that is still at full energy after a 15 mile hike.
I’ll never forget the day we hiked South Sister in Oregon (in the snow), and the first thing she does after we return from a 8-10 hour day is brings me her ball, like “Okay dad, that was just the warm-up for play-time, right?”
Sometimes you just have to accept your dog for who they are.