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Tips for Hiking With Dogs

27 June . 2017

Tips for Hiking with Your Dog in the Texas Hill Country

Sweetwater trails are spectacular and they are even better when you hike them with your closest companion. With over 700 acres to explore, you will want to make sure that you and your dog are prepared, especially during the Texas Hill Country’s dog days of summer.  Here are some of our top tips when exploring the hiking trails in Sweetwater with your dog:

1. Start Shorter and Slower
Your dog may not be quite ready at first for the elevation change in the Texas Hill Country.  Start by taking your dog on slower and shorter hikes to acclimate them to the Texas climate and topography.  You can eventually build up to longer hikes when they have built up their hiking stamina.

2.  To leash or not to leash?
The experts all debate whether it is best to leash or not leash your pet while hiking. You will want to remember that there are a few things to keep in mind while hiking the trails.  Because your dog will be unfamiliar with the trail environment, we ask that you keep your pet leashed.  There can be many distractions, including wild animals and other people.  Better safe than sorry!

3.  Stay the course
The Sweetwater trails provide a nature-rich environment, which means that your pet will naturally want to explore.  Because there can be critters and things lurking just beyond the path, we suggest that you keep your pet on the trail as much as possible. And if you get turned around, remember that all of the trails eventually lead out to another trail.

4.  Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Many people underestimate the power of dehydration when hiking in the Texas climate.  Make sure to stop occasionally to rehydrate yourself and your pup!  Don’t let your dog sip from a stream, as there may be harmful bacteria contained within it.  Instead, make sure that you have packed plenty of fresh water.  Whether your dog looks like she is struggling or not, take breaks to rest and recuperate.

5.  Pack Dog Treats
You will also want to pack several dog treats for your dog to enjoy while hiking.  The forest floor can sometimes seem like a buffet for your pet, but if you stop and share treats along the way – she will not only think that you are pleased with her hiking behavior, but will also be less likely to partake of any unhealthy plants or insects.

6.  Booties Can Save Feet
We are not suggesting that you dress your dog in stylish doggie clothing while hiking, but keep in mind that there could be underbrush or hot pavements along the way that can hurt your doggies’ padded footsies.  You may want to invest in some all-terrain booties for your canine companion.

7.  Keeping the Wild Outdoors
A responsible hiker will only leave footprints and take only photographs when visiting the wild. Don’t remove any plants from the trails and check your pet for any souvenirs also, including ticks or burrs.  Brush your pets coat before allowing them back indoors.

By following these few tips, you and your pet are sure to enjoy all that the Sweetwater trails have to offer.  Our favorite spot includes a waterfall and creek bed down behind the Hillcrest neighborhood that we have named Limestone Falls.  It is a perfect spot for picnic and playtime. 

Download your Sweetwater trail guide on our parks and trails page and learn more about the 10 miles of trails.   

Here’s to muddy paws, wagging tails and happy trails!

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