At Shoreline Happy Paws, we love to take dogs for adventure hikes. We previously shared a bit about our adventure hike services but know that many pet parents have important safety-based questions regarding this service. Today, we will address your dog hiking adventures frequently asked questions. As you’ll see, much of the safety protocols happen before the actual hiking can begin.
How Many Dogs Adventure Together?
At Shoreline Happy Paws, our adventure hike groups are comprised of 2 to 4 dogs. Most groups are limited to 2 to 3 dogs.
Are Dogs Tested Before Joining Groups?
Before any new hiker may join a group, our highly experienced professional pet care team asks questions about the dog’s behavior to learn how the dog does in various settings. These questions help us determine if the dog is a good candidate for hikes or if they would benefit from solo sessions to prepare.
If we determine that a dog is not a good candidate, we either hike solo permanently or do “solo hikes” for the first few weeks or months. We use desensitization and conditioning to prepare the dog to safely interact with other dogs on hikes. We’ve had 3 dogs successfully join group hikes after this approach and they’re doing great!
How Does Your Team Prepare?
We take every dog that is deemed a good candidate for group hiking adventures on a test hike by themselves. The test walk allows us to see how the dog does in the car and on the trail. It also allows us to gauge their walking manners, check for reactivity, etc.
Depending on how the test walk goes, we match the dog with a group based on the other dogs’ temperaments, spot availability, and walker ability/bandwidth. We like for the dogs to establish a hiking routine by participating in hikes on a set schedule. They are usually walked at the same time and day each week. That way, the same dogs are transported together and become accustomed to their hiking group.
As a safety measure, a new dog gets their own handler. That way, if there are any mishaps, the handler can take the new participant a separate way. Initially, they are also picked up in a different vehicle until it is deemed safe enough to integrate them with their hiking pack.
What Equipment Do You Use?
In addition to being trained in Pet First Aid & CPR by ProPetHero, our dog walkers are expertly prepared for each hike. They carry a bag with water, a whistle, first aid kits for dogs and humans, tick repellent, and air horns. Because Lyme Disease was named in a neighboring town, Lyme, we take tick bite prevention very seriously. We currently use Wondercide on all our hikers. Wondercide is a natural, safe, and very effective measure in flea and tick bite prevention.
In addition, our walkers use a TinyHorse lead system, which allows us to safely walk numerous dogs at a time. The TinyHorse system was designed for use by professional dog walkers and active multi-dog households. It allows us to have one hand free for emergencies and prevents walker injury.