Go the Distance! Hiking With Your Dog

John Muir said "In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks," I couldn't agree more. Hiking with the pack is one of my favorite things to do. The level of happiness I feel on those mornings is beyond a ten! I feel really relaxed and have absolute silence within me. The only sounds are those of the nature around me and the hard breathing of the dogs. I love that sound. You hear and feel everyone and everything when your mind is silent.

On the days I hike with the pack, we typically go early -- by 6 a.m., and we're out for a couple of hours. I'll stretch first, pray, and breathe in the cool morning breeze. That fresh air is like coffee and more than enough to make me feel awake and alive! There's no verbal communication during that time. The entire morning is spent in silence, communicating though energy and receiving the gift of the natural silence. Then we're back around 8 a.m. -- the dogs head straight to the pool to go for a swim and cool off. Here are my best tips for you to make the most of your pack hiking experience:

1. Remember to stay hydrated and bring water for you and the dogs.

2. Keep your dogs close and don't let them wander through bushes or tall grass where rattlesnakes may be.

3. Learn about your dog's limits physically, take the heat into consideration, and have a time limit for your hike. If their tongue is hanging out of their mouth more than half way, it's a sign to stop and take a rest.

4. If they start picking up their paws quickly, it may be a sign that the ground is too hot, so find some shade to cool off.

5. Know the trails and have a plan in mind of where you want to go, what you want to see.

6. Bring backpacks for the larger dogs to carry the water and whatever else you may need.

In my pack, when the little dogs get tired, I have the big dogs carry them... in the backpack! Giving them a job, or discipline, and exercise at the start of the day sets the foundation for the rest of it, fulfilling your needs and theirs. Go the distance, remembering to stay calm and assertive along the way!