BEFORE YOU GO
Research where you want to go
Not all trails are dog friendly. Generally state forests and parks are dog accessible, but most of Australia’s national parks are a no dog zone. Do your research by checking the local Government Parks website to find a walk that allows dogs or see our list of dog friendly walks.
Walk to your ability
If you are just starting out, don’t expect to head out on your first day and summit a mountain! Ease yourself and your dog into it by choosing walks that suit your and your dog’s fitness and endurance levels. By starting out with easier trails you can build up to longer and tougher terrain hikes together.
Vaccinations and parasite treatments
Make sure you are up to date with all your vaccinations, flea, tick and worming treatments and have adequate stock for post trip administration. Your dog can pick up these nasties while out in the bush, so be sure to have everything you need to treat them in case they bring these home.
Tell someone where you are going
Before heading out on any trail, be sure to let someone know (a ranger is best where applicable) where you are going and what time you expect to be back in case of emergencies. If you are not back by the set time, they can raise the alarm and get help out to you if needed.
WHAT TO TAKE
The right gear
Having the right gear makes the difference between a trip you want to remember and one you would rather forget! Be prepared to carry gear for hot, cold and wet weather – especially if you’re heading to alpine areas where the weather is unpredictable and can turn quickly.
– Water (Wide mouth bottles or reservoir kit)
– Water treatment tabs/filter system
– Food in sealed bags
– Map and compass
– First aid kit
– Wet weather/warm gear
– Sleeping mat
– Sleeping bag
– Stove and matches
– Swiss army knife or similar
– Toilet paper and trowel
– Travel towel
Your dog’s gear
– Dog Backpack (remember your dog should not carry more than 20% of it’s body weight for safety)
– Food in sealed bags
– Collapsible bowl
– Poop bags or trowel to bury any waste (remember leave no trace)
– LED collar for night
– K9 first aid kit (including wound gel, parasite treatment, antiseptic, bandages, tweezers, thermal blanket)
– Sleeping mat
– Brush and tick remover
– Dog booties (to protect your dog’s paws if walking on hot/sharp surfaces or snow to prevent ice balling)
– Dog rain jacket
ON THE TRAIL
The time has come! You have packed, prepared and researched and you are ready to go hiking! To ensure dogs remain welcome on our trails, we recommend you follow these tips while you are out in the backcountry.
Keep your dog on leash
By keeping your dog on leash you can avoid many hazards that may pop up on the trail. Dogs love to explore so ensure they remain safe from animals like snakes and kangaroos and respect native fauna and flora, by keeping them to designated tracks.
Watch your dog for signs of stress or exhaustion
Be sure to take lots of breaks, especially when first starting out to ensure your dog is hydrating adequately and getting enough rest in between trail sections. If you dog starts to slow or is panting excessively, then stop, rest and once your dog has settled you can continue on.
Cut paw pads can be a common injury while hiking. If you are climbing rocky terrain, then be sure to stop periodically to check your dog’s paws for cuts or peeling. Take a medicated dog safe wound gel for occasions like these or dog booties for added protection and treatment of cut paws.
Leave no trace
Adhere to backcountry etiquette and leave the trail as you found it. That means taking all your rubbish with you and sticking to marked trails when you can. When burying human or dog waste, ensure you do so 100 metres from campsites, water sources and tracks to minimise the risk of contamination.
Keep your dog on leash at camp, as here is where they could likely get into trouble if they are allowed to roam. At the end of a day of bushwalking, you are tired and more than likely just want to relax, meaning you may not be as vigilant in keeping an eye on your dog.
If your dog is allowed to explore they may come across snakes, feral animal bait or other hazards, putting themselves in danger. Be safe and keep them on leash and secured while at camp.
At night, don’t leave your dog outside to sleep, bring them into your tent. Keep your dog safe with you from nocturnal predators such as dingoes, wild boar and even wombats. On cold nights you will be glad of the added warmth too!
AND FINALLY POST TRIP
Alert the ranger to your return
Once you have completed your hike, let the ranger know you are back safely. You don’t want any search parties being organised on your behalf if there is no need!
Ticks, leeches and burrs
Often forgotten, but very important part of a hike is the post trip fur check. Take the time and check your dog’s body for ticks, leeches, burrs or any other debris they may have picked up on the trail. Especially in the case of ticks, a thorough check is important and should be completed as soon as possible post hike.
If you find you have worked hard on the trail, chances are your dog has too! A great way to keep your dog mobile and bounce back to normal is with stretching and massage. As always check with your vet prior to commencing any stretching activity to see if this is suitable for your dog.
And thank your dog!
Finally thank your dog for hiking with you! Dogs are the best trail partners (you’ll never hear them complain about the weather!) so give them a pat and a scratch as a thank you for hitting the trails with you!