When you’re out on a hiking trail, it’s not uncommon to see medium to large size dogs, but what about hiking with smaller dogs or even cats? We chat with two pet influencer experts who regularly adventure with their small dogs and cats to get their take on how you can be the most prepared for hiking with your pets.
This video is part of the Pet Voices PRESENTS series. CLICK HERE to see all the series videos.
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 0:01
Have you thought about taking your dog or your cat for a hike, regardless of size? Big dogs, small dogs, big cats, or small cats. We’re going to talk about all of the things that you should be thinking about to prepare and to get yourself onto the trail safely. Because we know hiking is the kind of adventure that’s not only a great bonding experience, but it’s great to get outside, great to get your body moving, and great for the fresh air. It’s all super important.
Jessica Shipman, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 0:25
And though we both love to hike and have hiked multiple times with our dogs, we wanted to reach out to two pet influencers who are experts in adventuring outdoors and hiking with their pets. So, our first expert is Jessica Williams from You Did What with Your Wiener and you guessed it, she has two Dachshunds that she hikes with. Then our second expert is Emily Hall from KittyCatGo and she hikes with three of her seven cats. And we’re going to let them tell you about how they got started and why they love hiking with their pets.
Emily Hall, KittyCatGo – 0:54
I’ve been traveling with my cats for about five or six years. We got started because one of our cats has Cerebellar Hypoplasia and we started taking her out in the backyard. Because of her disability, she can’t run away or jump a fence or anything like that. She loved it so much that we started branching out and taking her more places. And then, as we added more feline members to our family, we started training them to do the same to go with Sophie.
Jessica Williams, You Did What with Your Weiner – 1:22
Back in 2013, I was going to college and we had field camps. People brought their dog. I got puppy fever, I guess. I had looked for a large dog. When I graduated, I inherited a Dachshund. And I had wanted a dog to be my adventure companion. So, I had a Dachshund and I didn’t know that people didn’t really hike with them. So, off we went.
And then, about eight years later, I adopted a second Dachshund. And it turns out it wasn’t a fluke; he loved it. So, then I started a blog, You Did What with Your Weiner because people were surprised whenever I would tell them what I did with my Dachshund.
Small dogs need exercise. They deserve to have the same experiences as bigger dogs. And it really opened people’s minds to that possibility.
HOW TO TRAIN DOGS OR CATS
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 2:02
So, if you are not following both Jessica and Emily right now, definitely go and do that. Because they will continue to share all of their tips, their tricks, where to go, how to continue to hike better. So, whether it’s a cat or a dog, give them a follow.
And to get us started here, we wanted to start with that idea of training, right? So, if you’re picking up your pet and you’re putting on a trail, what do you need to do? What do you need to know? Maybe you’ve got questions about where to start or even where to go? Is it different to train a dog than it is to train a cat?
Jessica Shipman, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 2:32
Or a small dog versus a big dog? And how is training different when you’re at home versus when you’re out on the trail?
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 2:39
Yes, and when you’re used to walking on sidewalks in your neighborhood, it’s a little bit different. So, these are all great questions.
And we really wanted to know what the training tips were for both cats and dogs of all sizes. And so, we went back to Jessica and Emily and we just asked them. What is your process? How can we help people? Educate them and inform them? And where do they start?
Emily Hall, KittyCatGo – 3:03
The first step is to harness and leash train them. You want to find a harness that fits them well, is secure, and they can’t slip out of. You start introducing the harness to them at home. Before you even put it on them, you just leave it out on the floor so they can sniff it. If your cat goes and sniffs the harness and seems interested in it, you give them a treat. Once you think they are ready to try it on, you put it on them, but for just small increments of time. Maybe just a couple of minutes. Again, reward with treats the whole time. The goal is for them to always associate the harness with positive experiences. So, treats, treats all the time!
Jessica Williams, You Did What with Your Weiner – 3:38
You are really excited, so you want to take to the trails right away, but you actually shouldn’t. The training starts at home and it starts simple. Your dog has to have leash manners. You need to know basic commands, but when you’re thinking of leash manners, do keep this in mind. When they are walking beside you on the sidewalk a lot of people want a heel and it’s right next to you. But when you’re on a trail, that’s actually not really safe because some trails are narrow. So, you do want to keep in mind that sometimes you are going to want your dog out in front of you or behind you.
You can work on things around the neighborhood like balance or teaching them up on something, whether you want to get them out of the way of someone hiking on the trail or you just want to take a break and not be blocking the trail. Those are kind of training things that you can start at home and then take them to the trail later.
TIPS AND TRICKS
Jessica Shipman, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 4:23
Those are some great tips and are definitely some things you should consider the next time you’re getting ready to go hiking with your pets.
But there is more than just training when it comes to preparing to go hiking with your cat or your dog or whoever else you want to bring with you. One of my biggest tips is to start small. When I’m getting ready for a longer hike, I want to go on smaller ones first to make sure that both myself and my dogs are up for that 12 mile hike that we’re aiming for.
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 4:52
Another aspect to that is to make sure that, when you’re around in your neighborhood, that you’re using the gear that you’re going to use when you go big. So, starting small doesn’t mean treating it as small. But use the same harness, use the same leash,r backpack, or whatever pieces of gear you’re going to be using on your dog or cat. Have them use them on the smaller hikes too because you don’t want to end up realizing something doesn’t work.
My mistake was putting some gear on my dog and it ended up giving him hot spots. You don’t want that either. You want to know that your pet is going to be able to move, going to be functional, and that’ it is not going to bother anywhere on them and create any kind of hotspot. That way everybody can hike happily.
Jessica Shipman, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 5:35
And I would even say gear training is the type of training. So, you want to make sure that your dog or your cat is comfortable with what they’re going to be wearing the day of ahead of time, just like Chloe mentioned.
And one more thing that I would recommend is doing some research on where you’re going. Not only do you want to know what to expect in terms of the terrain and the obstacles, but you also want to know how busy it is. You want to know, ”Should you avoid that Saturday afternoon time slot just because everyone else is going to be there?” Maybe it’s better for you to go Saturday morning or on a weekday instead. And I think that’s especially true if you’re new to this, if it’s the first time you’ve taken your dog or your cat out. You want to make sure that there’s less possible chances for things to go wrong.
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 6:16
One other way to do that is to take note of whatever guidelines or rules are in place. We’re both in Colorado, so there are a lot of hiking up in the mountains and some places you have to have your dog on leash while other places have off leash guidelines, which are still guidelines. Make sure you know what the rules are for where you’re going because off leash still means under strict voice control. And on leash means you should have your dog on leash. And I know that some of us pet parents seek that out specifically for our dogs who are better on leash when they are hiking.
So, know those facts. “Where are you going?” Like Jessica said, ”Is it busy? What are the rules? What are the guidelines? What kind of wildlife might you see?” Because that’s something else to think about and potentially prepare for. It’s one thing to see rabbits, but it’s another thing to see a bear. You just you just never know. And I think that’s part of the research. It’s always good to have the full gamut of everything you’re in for.
TOP TIPS FOR THE TRAIL
Jessica Shipman, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 7:12
And even with all the research that you will do, you might not be prepared for everything that you come across. And that’s why we’re going back to both Jessica and Emily to ask for their top tips for when you’re actually on the trail.
Emily Hall, KittyCatGo – 7:23
My biggest tip for when you take your cat somewhere on an adventure is to always have a backpack carrier. Some sort of place that if they get really scared, if they get spooked by a dog, a person, or a loud noise, that can be their safe space that they can easily retreat to. Make sure that your cat is comfortable with that carrier before your hike. That way it’s a safe space. So, if they get scared, you can put it on the ground and they’ll just go inside and can be comfortable. You can give them some treats. It will help them calm down.
Another tip is that cats tend to not drink much water. To keep them hydrated, make sure that you have some sort of treat that’s high in water content. A lot of people use those pureed squeezy cat treats that are in a tube. Those are really popular because they have so much water in them. If your cat is not drinking water when you’re out on a hike, you can give them that treat, and it will help keep them hydrated.
It’s also important to understand that walking a cat is not going to be like walking a dog. So, don’t go into it with the expectation that it’s going to be like walking your dog. Because then you’ll be frustrated and disappointed. They’re different animals. They act differently and respond to everything differently. Just understand that cats tend to meander and wander. Adjust your expectations accordingly and you and your cat will have a much better time that way.
Jessica Williams, You Did What with Your Weiner – 8:42
One tip about water is that a lot of people think, “Oh, my dog will drink when they’re thirsty.” Well, in fact, most won’t. Any time a dog is under stress, and that can be good stress or bad stress, it’s just stress on the body – exercise is one of those – they tend to eat and drink less. It’s very important for me and my dog to stay hydrated. So, I actually flavor the water to trick them into drinking. I flavor it with either low sodium bone broth, or I will put in a little splash, more like 50/50, of coconut water, unsweetened if you can. But in a pinch, I’ll drop some treats in there. Especially the ones that you can crumble up and they powder.
Just know when you go hiking and you are taking your dog with you, you might not make it to your destination. Again, it’s watching your dog and making sure they can handle it. Making sure that they are having a good time. And if it turns out that they are not, you’ll just need to be okay with turning around. Otherwise, don’t take your dog with you.
It’s always good to have a plan, if that does happen. What if you get in a situation where it’s kind of like, “Opps?” I have a small dog, I can just pick them up and carry them. Some people with medium size dogs will practice throwing them over their shoulder just in case they have to carry them out. They actually make slings for larger dogs. They work for smaller dogs too, but they’re absolutely necessary for large dogs. You want to turn around before you need that plan, but you should always have a plan for getting your dog out of a trail if they are not able to walk.
HIKING GEAR FOR OUR PETS
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 10:05
And now, that you’ve gotten all of those tips from both Jessica and Emily, let’s talk a little bit about gear. We want to make sure you’re most prepared with everything that’s going to help you have a successful and safe hiking trip.
For me, when I’ve taken my dogs hiking, not only am I thinking about the harness, but I’m also thinking about the leash. I really like the leash that attaches around the waist because it still gives them some room. They are still about six feet for them to play with between me and them but it gives me a little bit more strength. If they see something or something spooks them, I’m more stable when they’re attached to my waist, so I really like that particular leash when hiking. Plus, then, my hands are free.
What about you, Jessica?
Jessica Shipman, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 10:50
I love those leashes too. It’s very interesting, though, because my husband doesn’t. He really would really prefer the traditional leash with a handle. But I think that just comes to show you that you really need to figure out what works best for you and your style of hiking, as well as your pet, whether it’s a dog or a cat.
And then, I also like to think about the stuff that I need for both of us, so for everyone who’s going to be out on the trail with me. I think the number one thing is water and how I bring water for my pets depends on how I bring water for myself. Sometimes I bring them their own little water bottle that has a bowl attached and I can just pour it into that bowl. But sometimes I actually bring a hydration pack. I bring a ton of water and I need to be able to share that. So, I look towards a pop up bowl that I can easily spray some of that water in and then bring that to my pet.
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 11:38
And it’s always better to have more water than not enough. Because you just never know.
And one of the other things gear wise that’s really important is a first aid kit. You want to have everything for scrapes and cuts and bee stings – the things that you could potentially run into out on a hike in the wild. And think of it as supplies. What are the supplies you need to get you through and to make sure that you and your pets stay safe?
That’s going to depend on a little bit on where you are going. If you’re going to go for a hike around a lake, that’s one thing. If you’re going to go up a 10,000 foot mountain, that’s another. If you’re going to go for a 12 mile hike, you’ve got to think about that because longevity means something. So, pack your first aid kit accordingly and then you can just make sure everybody’s safe.
Jessica Shipman, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 12:26
Yes, a 12 mile hike is going to be much longer than your walk around the lake. But luckily, a lot of first aid supplies work well for both pets and humans. There are exceptions, soyou want to double check that you’re not putting something on your pet that you shouldn’t. But the good news is that you don’t have to carry two separate first aid kits. You can use the supplies in a single first aid kit for both of you.
SNACKS ALONG THE WAY
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 12:50
So we talked about leashes and harnesses. And we’ve talked about water and first aid kits. And you also want to make sure you have got something for your dog or cat to eat. Calories. And that can again, depend on how far you’re going. Around the lake versus a 12-mile hike. Those are very different things to prepare for when it comes to food. You want to make sure you have enough calories to keep them sustained because just like you, they’re going to be exerting a lot of energy. And you don’t want to end up having to carry them the whole way, which I have seen happen.
Jessica Shipman, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 13:35
Yes, so calculate that. Don’t bring too many, but bring just enough. And of course, my dogs would be very upset if we did not mention snacks, which they think is number one.
The other benefit of treats is that it can help you lure your pet out of the sticky situation. So, maybe there is a wild animal and you kind of want to get them away from it. Or maybe there’s another pet on the trail and you want them to stay to one side. Treats are a great tool for that as well.
But we couldn’t finish our section on gear without going back to our experts, Jessica and Emily, to see what their must have items are. And here’s what they said.
Emily Hall, Kitty Cat Go – 13:58
In addition to their regular harness, leash, and backpack carrier, I always make sure that I have my cat’s ID tags and that they are on my cat. My cats are also microchipped. If they were to step out of the harness or leash, they could be identified.
Treats. I usually bring their regular treats that they love. And then, also the puree squeeze treats.
And pet waste bags. That’s something that a lot of people adventuring with cats don’t think about. It’s something usually more associated with dogs, but if your cat uses the bathroom while you’re out on a hike, then you’re going to need to pick up after them, just like people with dogs. So, be prepared with pet waste bags.
You also want to bring along a favorite toy. My cats really like wand toys. If they get nervous or are getting distracted really easily by things and I want them to move along the trail a little bit faster, I can dangle their favorite toy and encourage them to chase after that. I can redirect their attention from whatever it is that’s distracting them.
Jessica Williams, You Did What with Your Weiner – 15:02
So, I try to be over prepared on every hike. This is a minimum of gear that I take with me every single time. I bring a headlamp all the time, even if it’s during the day and I’m not going to be out long because you never know when something’s going to happen and you could get stuck out. The other thing is that if something happens with your dog, it can be hard to really look at the injury because of a shadow. If you move into the shade and wear your headlamp, you can get a really good spotlight on what’s going on.
I bring an extra leash. I not only bring an extra leash in case the one I’m using breaks, but in case I run across a lost dog on the trail.
I do, even if we’re hiking in the summer, bring a thin dog jacket. You don’t know. You could get stuck out overnight. I like to know that I could reasonably survive one night in the woods if I had to. And a jacket will really help that to retain body heat.
Those are the things that I pretty much don’t leave home without.
Jessica Shipman, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 15:55
Those two are full of such great information. And we hope between what they’ve shared and what we’ve shared, that we’ve really encouraged you to give hiking a try with your dog, regardless of size, or even with your cat. And if you want to follow our experts, our pet influencer friends, and their adventures when they’re out in the wild, be sure to check them out.
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 16:16
And if you go on adventures, we want to hear about it. Tell us tell us your gear, your tips, your tricks, your training, whatever it is that you do with your dog, regardless of size, or your cat. Or I mean, maybe it’s goats or whatever you hike with, we want to know. So, tell us in the comments.
And of course, if you enjoy these kinds of informational videos about the pets and animals that you love, please go ahead and hit that subscribe button. So, that way we can show up in your inbox every time we publish a new one.
Leave us a comment with your hiking story or tips!
For more information on Jessica at You Did What With Your Weiner and Emily at KittyCatGo:
You Did What With Your Weiner – youdidwhatwithyourweiner.com
KittyCatGo – kittycatgo.com