Tips for long-distance dog walks
For many of us, there’s nothing more invigorating than striding off over the hills with our faithful four-legged friends bounding along joyfully beside us.
Dogs are made for walking, and as pack animals they’re made for companionship, too. Long-distance walks can bring out the very best in your canine’s character, making your epic ramble a truly bonding experience.
Of course, mishaps can occur along the way, so compare pet insurance before you embark on your travels.
Read on for the rest of our tips on how to make sure your hike with your hound goes without a hitch.
So you like the idea of walking around the very edge of Wales, but you and your pet have never previously been further than your local park? Think again.
The Wales Coast Path is 870 miles long, meaning that even the fittest of hikers and hounds will need six to seven weeks to complete it. That’s a lot of tough walking in famously wet weather!
Start smaller. Take your canine companion on shorter strolls, then build up to longer ones. Limit your first long-distance walk to a weekend, so you can judge if you and your pooch are really up to a mammoth hike.
No matter how bouncy and full of life your dog seems now, if it’s overstretched and tired then your dream trek will quickly turn into a nightmare.
Remember to compare pet insurance before you get started to make sure you’ve got the right cover for your pooch.
Know your dog
As you train for your trek together, you should get a better idea of your mutt’s capabilities.
Of course, some breeds are more suited to a long-distance ramble than others: a muscular Labrador, for example, has more natural walking capacity than a toy breed such as a Chihuahua. You need to take into account the breed’s stamina, energy, trainability, and personality.
Consider your dog’s grooming needs, too.
At the end of a long day’s hiking, you probably don’t want to spend an hour brushing mud out of your dog’s hair, so it’s best not to pick a Pomeranian as your pal for your walking holiday. Choose a short-haired breed, or at least give your pooch a good trim before you set off.
But it also comes down to individual temperament – and you know your dog best.
Be realistic. Can your West Highland Terrier really manage the West Highland Way?
Will your Border Collie stick by your side along the whole length of the Offa’s Dyke Path, or will it take a detour to start herding sheep?
And a Yorkshire Terrier is probably just too tiny to cope with the Pennine Way – or the Pennine weather!
Finally, remember that even the most biddable of dogs can wander off and get lost when they’re outside their own territory. Compare pet insurance before you go and consider getting cover for lost animals.
Pack for two
Hiking books – check. Raincoat – check. Maps – check. But what about your checklist for your canine companion?
Pack enough food and water for your dog, or plan in stops at shops along the way. If you’re carrying your own luggage, remember that plastic bowls are lighter than metal or ceramic.
Take a lightweight towel so you can dry off your animal after it’s had a good splash in a mountain stream or got soaked in a moorland downpour.
You might consider a warm waterproof jacket, too.
A lead is essential for crossing fields of livestock and is often a requirement on campsites or public transport.
Although your animal is likely to relish bounding through the great outdoors and spending all day in your company, there’s a chance it will miss the comforts of home, especially at night.
A familiar blanket will reassure it, as well as keep it toasty if you’re camping.
Finally, make sure you take some dog first aid essentials and a list of vets en route. Compare pet insurance before you set off to find suitable cover.
Any long-distance walk involves careful planning, but if you’re taking your four-legged friend then you need to double down on your preparations.
Firstly, how are you getting to your chosen route? If you’re taking public transport, then do check the regulations for dogs.
Trains will carry animals, but are you sure your dog will be happy if it’s a crowded service? Coach and bus companies may have their own rules or leave it to the discretion of the driver.
If you’re camping, then most campsites will accept dogs – but not all, especially if they’re on working farms. Those that do welcome your Whippet will probably ask that it’s kept on a lead at all times.
Bed and breakfasts in walking regions, such as national parks, are also likely to take well-behaved animals – often for a small nightly fee.
You do need to check ahead though, as neither you nor your pooch wants to be turned away at the end of a long day’s trekking.
While planning your route, check that you’ll be stopping in places where you can stock up on supplies of dog food and other essentials.
What about cafés and restaurants – will your walking companion be welcome there?
And if you’re going on a very long hike, factor in some non-walking days to give you and your pooch a chance to rest your legs.
That way, you both stand a better chance of staying fit and healthy and avoiding unwelcome trips to the doctor or the vet – but compare pet insurance before you go so your canine companion is covered for any mishaps along the way.
Compare pet insurance with Go Get It today
Your dog is your faithful companion for your adventures – so make sure you get it covered through specialist dog insurance.
Go Get It allows you to compare pet insurance from a range of providers, choosing from a variety of cover options including accident only, time limited, maximum benefit and lifetime policies.
Cover is available for puppies and dogs from eight weeks onwards, with no upper age limit. Add-ons include overseas travel, dentistry and third-party legal liability.
Choose the right cover for your canine at Go Get It – and set off on your rambles with confidence. Happy hiking!