Dogs truly are the best companions we could have in life. What other creation loves us as unconditionally as a dog? They are always happy to see us when we come home after a long day, and greet us with a wagging tail and slobbery kisses. They always seem to know when we need comfort and are ready to lay their head in our laps when we need it. Dogs are naturally social creatures, and yearn to please us daily through obedience and companionship. It is for this reason that so many dog owners enjoy taking their dogs along for hikes and camping trips. Hiking with a dog is a little different than going it alone, though, and today I’ve provided you with a few tips to make the activity less stressful so you and your furry friend can have a great experience!

The first thing you’ll need to do is locate a trail, which entails matching the trail with your dog’s abilities, as well as finding a trail that allows dogs. Some people just don’t possess the physicality to endure certain trails, and the same goes for dogs. Terrain, obstacles, and potential hazards, such as poisonous plants or animals, are things to consider when deciding on a trail. Also, be sure to check the dog regulations of a given park or trail beforehand. Some require permits or extra fees and paying fines is never fun, so be sure of the rules before setting out for a hike.

Dogs like to work and be active, so taking advantage of such a seemingly endless amount of energy isn’t a bad idea. I’ve yet to meet a dog that didn’t like to chase a stick or a tennis ball when thrown, so keeping such a toy on hand is a great way to help your dog spend some of their energy in a healthy way. Also, equipping your dog with a pack is a great way to put them to work on a hike. Many companies make packs that strap on and can carry all of your dog’s essentials, including water and toys. Be sure to purchase a pack that fits your dog securely and holds most of the accessories you’ll be taking along with you.

Hiking with a dog also entails remaining aware of what’s going on around you, as well. Some people don’t like dogs. Gasp! I’ll never understand this, but it is a fact of life. That being said, keeping your dog leashed when others are around, especially at campsites, is not only respectful, but it reduces the risk of any potential incidents. If your dog is a barker, it might be best to have them wear a muzzle if you’re hiking or camping in popular locations.

At the end of a long day on the trail, it’s hard to beat the companionship of a dog. Be sure to make sure they have plenty of food and water and clean them off a bit before settling in for the night, and they’ll return the favor with unwavering love and excitement each day.