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Hiking with your pet – What you need to know

November 2, 2020

Being out in nature is good for the heart and soul, and we’re lucky to be surrounded by abundant trails and hills in Hong Kong. Getting outside is also great exercise for your pup! But before you hit the trails with your dog – is your furry buddy ready? The trails belong to everyone, so it’s important for pet parents to keep the following points in mind:

Getting started

There are 3 main types of trails in Hong Kong: Family-friendly trails, nature trails, and country trails. If your dog is new to hiking, consider starting with some family-friendly trails. They range from 1km to 3.5km long, and typically nice and gentle walks that can be completed in 2 hours or less.

Training tips before heading outdoors

The sun, the wind, the smells! It’s a given that your dog will be excited being out on the trails, but if a pup hasn’t had enough training, the following may happen:

  • If you take the leash off, they may run off-trail
  • They may jump into bushes out of curiosity
  • They may sniff at or mistakenly ingest unknown objects

All the above scenarios could cause harm to your pet, and possibly to other hikers or animals. Therefore, it’s critical to teach your pup to listen to your commands before taking them on hikes.

You can start by taking their leash off next time you go to the park, and call their name. Encourage them to come to you with treats or other rewards. The goal is for your doggo to obey and come back to your side when they hear your call. Before you try this, observe and see whether your pet can be safely off-leash. It’s different for every dog, so it’s really up to the pet parent to decide when their furry one is ready.

Hitting the trails

Aside from regular behavior training for your pet, pet owners should take note of the following:

Before hiking
Choose a suitable trail Unless your doggo is a frequent hiker, don’t choose a trail that is too long or challenging.
Consider your dog’s breed Long hikes are not as suitable for huskies, Labradors, golden retrievers and other breeds that tend to have more joint problems.
Longhaired breeds tend to overheat more easily, so pay attention to the weather and choose trails with lots of shade.
Short-nosed breeds such as pugs, shih tzus, and Pekingese can get heat strokes easily. Short walks are fine but it’s generally not recommended for these breeds to go hiking.
Recent health condition If your pup has been sick lately, it’s best to postpone any hiking plans.
Puppies or senior pets tend to have weaker immune systems and have less endurance, so take that into consideration.
Any joint problems? f your dog has shown signs of joint pain or discomfort, it’s best to avoid steep hills and trails with a lot of stairs.
While hiking
Be cautious about wild plants and poisoned baits Keep tabs on your dog at all times. If you spot them chewing on something you’re not sure of, stop them immediately. Take a sample of the plant or item your pet was eating in case you need to show it to your vet later.
Bring food and water You may not need it, but always prepare more than you think you need.

Leash, muzzle, and dog tag
The first two items are to protect your pup and others, while the tag with your info on it is to help them find their way home if they get lost.
First aid kit The trails in Hong Kong are generally safe, but injuries can still happen. There have been incidents of dogs and cats snared by illegal animal traps. Beware of these dangers and it never hurts to be extra-prepared!
Keep calm when there are other animals around Aside from your doggo, there may be other pets on the trail, and of course the animals that call nature home. If you spot another furry friend, remember to stay calm and keep a firm grip on the leash. Panic or overexcitement from you could unnerve your dog and result in accidents.
Post hiking
Wash up! Protect your pet from ticks, fleas, and bacteria by giving them a thorough cleaning as soon as you get home.

The weather has finally cooled down, which means hiking season has begun! If you think your furry buddy would enjoy going on hikes, we’ve picked out a few trails for you to get started. Read about them here: Kid- and pet-friendly hikes in Hong Kong