Going on a hike is a great way to get out, get some exercise and enjoy a slice of nature. It can also be a great bonding experience between you and your furry friend. With so many sights, sounds and smells to explore, your dog will have just as much fun outdoors as you will. Though before you put on your hiking boots, there are a few things you should consider to ensure for a great time!

For starters, knowing what your dog is capable of is a key factor. For example, if you want to take your pooch on a short trail, that would be alright, but if you’re looking to go on an all-out hike, it’s best if your dog is fully developed. If your dog is a smaller breed and has short legs, this is something to consider because they can have a more difficult time on the longer trails.

Another aspect to consider is your dog’s behavior. While hiking might take place outdoors in the wild, that doesn’t mean you will be alone. Before you take your dog onto a backcountry trail, make sure they can follow commands such as heel, sit, stay or come to you. Behavior is key for a dog in nature and sometimes, they might feel frightened on the trail. One way you can calm them down is by being friendly with fellow hikers. This ensures to your pooch that everything is alright.

It’s also important to bring the right essentials for your dog on your hike. Items to consider for your dog are booties to protect their feet, a leash, a water bowl, treats, plastic bags and an ID tag. The U.S. Forest Service says pets must be on a six-foot or shorter hand-held leash in most wilderness areas and required always in developed recreational areas. When it comes to how much water you should bring your dog, the Appalachian Mountain Club suggests to bring at least a quart of water for every three miles you plan to hike.

Now that you have everything ready to go for you and your dog, knowing proper trail protocol is key on your hike. You should always keep your dog within eyes notice and in range of you hearing your commands. If you’re dog does go to the bathroom on the trail, please be sure to clean up after them. If you plan to bury their waste on the trail, do not do so by bodies of water or other campsites.

While on the trail, don’t allow your dog to disturb the wildlife of nature such as plants and animals. If you happen to come across poisonous plants on your trail, make sure your dog stays away from the plant.

Finally, while hiking may be a great way for you and your dog to get exercise, please allow time for water and snack breaks for your pet. Also, be sure to check for fleas and ticks on your dog once the hike is done. Have a great time exploring the trail!