Hiking with Fido

How to make the most of the trails with your pooch

Summer is finally upon us and there is truly no better feeling than hitting the open trails with your dog. It just feels right. Not to mention it is one of the best things you can do for your own physical health and mental wellbeing not to mention your dog’s. Here are some considerations before taking to the great outdoors with your dog.

To leash, or not to leash?

There is nothing I love more than watching dogs romp around in the forest, truly enjoying life to its fullest. That being said, it might not be appropriate for all dogs. You need to truthfully ask yourself: is it safe to let my dog off-leash? If the answer is yes, then go for it! If the answer is no, that is OK too. Dogs can still have an excellent outdoor adventure while on-leash. You can get a good harness and hands-free leash and start exploring. You could also try using a long line (which can come in lengths of 10, 15, 25, 30+ feet) to give your dog extra room to stretch those legs and sniff around while still having a safety line attached to them.

Photo: @andrsn.pck

What are the laws?

Check the internet before hitting the trail. In some areas you may be free to unclip that leash, but a lot of national and provincial parks or protected areas require your dogs to remain on-leash. Some areas won’t allow dogs at all, so make sure you check to see whether or not the area has any rules about dogs.

Trail difficulty

Is your dog well-conditioned and physically fit, or are they a weekend warrior? If you are just starting out adventuring with your dog, take the trail difficulty into account. A 20-kilometre hike for your dog’s first hike may be too strenuous, so start small and build up from there.



If you aren’t hiking along a lake or river, you are going to need to bring water for your dog. Be mindful of keeping them hydrated and not hiking in extreme heat. The last thing you want is a dog with heat stroke when you are 10 kilometres into the woods.


Safety first! Pack a first aid kit. Know your area. Check to see if you will have cell reception in the area before you go. Make sure your dog’s microchip information is up to date and that they have a collar with an ID tag attached. If ticks are an issue in the area you are going, ask your vet about tick preventatives and give yourself and your dog a good once over to check for ticks after your day in the woods. Stay safe and have fun!

Seven Adventure Dogs and a Cat to Follow on Instagram

Photo: @greatgramsofgary

Jinx, Zeus & Thor

Squamish, B.C.
Human: Solana
Favourite adventure spot: Trail running and adventuring in the backcountry


Guelph, ON
Human: Alyse
Favourite adventure spot: Bruce Peninsula backcountry

Whisky & Echo

Cochrane, AB
Humans: Taffin & Jared
Favourite Adventure Spot: Canmore, Banff & Kananaskis


Fort Nelson, B.C.
Humans: Angie & Jay
Favourite adventure spot: Stone Mountain Provincial Park

Gary (the cat)

Canmore & Edmonton, AB
Human: James
Favourite adventure spot: Lake Louise and Moraine Lake

Digital Edition

Read This Story in Our Outdoor Summer Digital Edition
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We’ve covered DIY Bike Maintenance, Wildlife Travel, Open Water Swimming, Ultramarathon Training, Paddleboarding, Family Adventures, and Dogs and a Cat to watch on Instagram! Work out with Canada’s Top Fitness Instructors and be inspired by our Athletes with IMPACT.