Hiking With Your Dog

Hitting the trails with your dog is a great way to get exercise outdoors, break up the walk-around-the-neighborhood routine, and expose your dog to new experiences.

Here are some things to remember before you head out:

  1. Make sure the trail is pet-friendly before you go.  Check websites or call ahead.  Not all National Parks allow dogs on trails even though they may be allowed in the park with restrictions.  State parks in Kansas require a day pass fee or annual permit.  Pets must be leashed and are not allowed in public structures such as the cabins.
  2. Perry Lake TrailCheck out the trail without your dog first.  What are the trail conditions?  Rocky, muddy, steep inclines, or areas with high bluffs? If it’s a lake trail and your dog likes to swim is there a place he can easily access the water?
  3. Study the signs and maps at the trailhead.  What is the length of the trail?  Is it a loop trail? What wildlife inhabits the area? Is it also a bike and horse trail?  If so, make sure your dog is prepared to safely meet others on the trail.
  4. Are you planning a trip to Colorado? Know the limits of your dog’s breed.  Not all dogs can tolerate high altitude conditions.
  5. Don’t plan to hike three miles unless you know he can comfortably hike that far.  Take breaks along the way.
  6. Watch for forks in the trail.  Shortcuts or spurs can be misleading and can add more time or distance than you had planned if you’re not paying attention to markers.  If your dog is highly trained to obey all verbal commands and if he’s off leash in a permissible area, make sure he’s trained to stop at forks in the trail.
  7. This time of year I prefer wide trails to avoid ticks and poison ivy. Keep an eye on the trail and don’t let your dog venture into tall grasses and shaded rocky areas where venomous snakes such as copperheads and rattlesnakes may be resting during the heat of the day.
  8. Keep your dog on a leash while on a trail.  Make sure his collar ID is current.
  9. Always bring water for you and your dog.  Buy a collapsible dog bowl that will fit in your pocket. 
  10. Don’t expect to have cell phone service everywhere.  Be prepared even for short hikes.
  11. Respect the trail and other people.  Clean up after your dog and properly dispose the waste.

Review these trail sites:

Have fun with your pet this summer and don’t forget to check out the Library’s Pets Neighborhood where you’ll find lots of great books and DVDs!

hiking tips and photos by Kim Sain


As a Public Services Specialist, in addition to Reference work and serving on special project committees I enjoy promoting and coordinating nature-themed programs for adults and families. My interests include hiking trails locally and in National Parks, reading about and traveling to Alaska, Sandhill Crane migration, Monarch waystations, and volunteering as a certified K-State Extension Master Naturalist (2014-present). Peter Matthiessen's Shadow Country is my all-time favorite novel.