For the outdoorsy people among us, it's hard to beat a fall day spent in nature. From beautiful vistas to babbling brooks to the sound of the wind rustling the foliage, there's something magical about being out and about on a new trail or a go-to favorite hike in autumn. While hiking is a great time to reconnect with ourselves and with nature and bask in the serenity of being in the great outdoors, one thing can make any fall hike way better: bringing along your four-legged best friend.
Dogs have the ability to instantly brighten any day and make any experience feel that much more special, and hiking is a great way to strengthen the bond between you and your pup, as well.
Whether you're a seasoned hiker who has been on countless outdoorsy adventures with your pup or you're looking to take your dog on that very first hike this fall, there are several important steps you should take to ensure the day goes well. From thinking about safety measures to steps you can take to make the day as fun as possible, the following tips will guarantee a memorable and successful adventure for you and your furry friend.
When planning a fall hike for you and your dog, the first step you should take is to make sure that the trail is dog-friendly. Research the trails in advance to check that the trail allows dogs and see if any other pup parents have left comments, reviews, or tips about how safe the trail is for dogs. You should also take extra care about the lengths of the paths and routes you plan to take to avoid tiring out your dog (or yourself, for that matter!). The same rule applies to the drive to the trail. If your dog doesn't do great in the car, consider opting for a close-by path or trail system to avoid a car-sick or anxious pup!
While fall often means crisp, cool days, you should check the weather in advance to avoid any extreme heat or rain. While you might hit some unexpected weather on the trail, planning as much as possible is key.
As is true for any hike, you'll want to hit the trail prepared, and this is especially true when you also have your pup with you. Fill a backpack with essentials like enough water for both your and your doggo, dog snacks like treats or a bit of kibble and human snacks like trail mix and dried fruit, and a collapsible bowl to ensure you can give your pup water along the way.
You should also always bring bug spray for you and tick spray for your pup. Plan to apply a little before you head out on your adventure. Having some backup sprays on the trail is also key. The same goes for sunscreen! While you know to always apply and reapply sunscreen throughout the day, did you know that some dogs also need a bit of sunscreen? You can easily find dog sunscreen online and apply it to any exposed skin areas on your pup, careful to avoid their eyes and mouth. This is especially true if you're heading out on a sunny fall day.
Next, you'll want to plan your outfits. Depending on the weather, you'll want to pick a dog jacket or a dog hoodie to keep your pup protected from the elements. If it looks like it might drizzle, opt for a rain jacket for your dog, or if a cold front is coming in, go for a cozy dog hoodie or a dog squall jacket.
For you, you'll want to bring along a packable jacket, since having a layer you can add or remove as needed can make all of the difference on a fall hike. For the rest of your outfit, you'll want to go with a look that provides coverage while still allowing for you to be as mobile as possible so you can focus on enjoying the trail with your pup. Try a pair of women's workout leggings paired with a comfy, moisture-wicking women's T-shirt that you don't mind getting a bit dirty!
Once you get home from your adventure, the first thing you should do is a tick check on both yourself and your dog. While tick season tends to peak in summer, you're definitely not out of the woods in the fall (see what we did there?), which is an essential safety measure. After ensuring that you're both tick-free, make sure your pup has a fresh bowl of water before that well-earned snuggle up in a cozy dog bed, content from a day spent exploring nature with dog's best friend in the world (hint, it's you!).
Fall is one of the best seasons for hiking, and bringing along your dog can make those magical autumn hikes even more memorable. Following the necessary safety and preparation steps will ensure smooth sailing (well, hiking, technically) for many adventures ahead!