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Away from mundane civilization of bland infrastructure and uninspiring gyms, the beautiful scenery, fresh air and sense of adventure hiking provides relaxes the mind and helps burn almost 400 calories an hour, conveniently making it a great cardiovascular workout.
Paired with camping, it’s an experience that’s quite the opposite of boring. It may seem as if nothing can top hiking as a fun outdoor activity, but have you considered if it's too much of a hassle to bring your Mastiff along? Hiking is also fantastic exercise for our Mastiffs especially the athletic breeds, most dogs will happily go on short hikes on easy trails with us. It’s one of the most memorable experiences we might have with them because it contains all the elements that both humans and dogs can enjoy. Their energy and eagerness to sniff what lies ahead can encourage us to go farther, making them spectacular hiking buddies, as they draw attention to things we would likely overlook.
It’s important to remember that our Mastiff can’t always measure up to the physical and mental capabilities of humans. Since they’re still animals, there are safety measures that must be taken in order to secure an enjoyable, stress-free and safe activity with our four-legged hiking buddy. No matter how short the hike is or how easy it is to navigate the trails we’ve chosen, it’s important to be prepared for the worst before heading into the woods. There are a few additional precautionary steps that we have to take to prepare our Mastiffs to go hiking and camping with us.
Everyone should have fun for an outdoor adventure to be considered a good one. Fun comes after safety, which is why we have 15 tips to ensure that our Mastiff’s health and well-being is protected prior to a hiking and camping trip. Before taking our Mastiff along on a hike, check out these tips and include them in your checklist:
Tip 1. Before we head out to the woods, you should test out your Mastiff’s physical capacity first. Long walks in our neighborhood and short jogs on uphill sidewalks can let us gauge if your Mastiff has the endurance to keep up. It will let us get a sense of how easy or difficult it will be for them before we actually go hiking on a trail they’ve never been on. This is also a good starting point for an endurance training; we can gradually increase the distance traveled and the time we spend jogging on uphill sidewalks.
Tip 2. If we’re considering taking our Mastiff hiking, then the assumption is that we’ve been hiking for quite some time ourselves. It’s a bad decision to take our Mastiff hiking on our first time, but if it’s already a hobby we’ve developed, then it means that we’re pretty much familiar with the trails, though it’s still best to pick the easiest one to begin with. We should also be aware of the restrictions of these hiking trails as most national parks do not allow dogs at all, though here are at least 10 where you actually can. A well-researched look into hiking and camping spots can ensure that our trip is a smooth one. This is the only way we can avoid medical or logistical emergencies. The less stressful it is for us and our Mastiff, the more fun we’ll have.
Tip 3. Securely fastening a tag to your dog's collar containing contact information will help us a great deal in case our hiking companion gets separated from us. A home address and phone number is usually sufficient for our Mastiff’s tag, though a name can't hurt too.
Tip 4. While it may be cinematic to drink from a stream or river and to allow our dog to do the same, we should avoid doing so. These bodies of water are exposed to various wild animals and humans; drinking from them will put us at risk of contracting diseases from parasites and bacteria that come from decaying bodies and poop. Instead, we must bring enough water for both ourselves and our dogs. On average, dogs drink as many ounces of water as their weight in pounds. If a dog weighs 66 pounds, then it generally drinks 66 ounces of water everyday. When hiking though, they'll surely need more. To be safe, we should let our dog drink every time we feel thirsty ourselves. From time to time, we should also monitor whether our dog is getting dehydrated by gently pulling a fold of skin at the nape of our Mastiff's neck and observing if it falls back into place slowly. If it returns quickly, it means that our dog is hydrated enough. If not, we should immediately offer our dog some water to drink. Especially when camping, it’s better to overestimate than to not bring enough water as we cannot be certain that the water sources we come across are safe. A collapsible bowl is usually favorable when hiking because it’s portable and lightweight.
Tip 5. Forgetting to pack food ruins camping trips. It’s important to pack non-perishable human and dog food enough to last us for the entire camping trip, so we don't risk having to cut our vacation short. Energy and protein-dense treats for our Mastiffs can supplement the meals that we’re going to be distributing into smaller portions throughout the day. It’s important that the food we pack for our hiking companion meets their daily caloric needs, especially because hiking is a strenuous activity.
Tip 6. Because our Mastiff will be exposed to dirt, plants, insects and wild animals, it’s important that all their vaccinations are complete and up to date before the hike. These will prevent them from getting ticks, fleas, lyme disease, leptospirosis, and heartworm. Anti-rabies shots will also protect them from possible encounters with wild animals, while protecting other human hikers in case our dog bites them by accident.
Tip 7. As we do when hiking alone, bring a First Aid Kit containing disinfectant, gauze, bandages, scissors and cortisone cream. In addition to these, we should include a flea comb and tweezers in our kit as these can be used in removing ticks, splinters, and burns that might get stuck on our Mastiff’s skin.
Tip 8. Even though not knowing what lies ahead is exciting, it’s also worth preparing for. Because we don’t have access to a water hose to clean up our dog’s muddy fur, we should not forget towels and wipes. Mud can carry parasites, and when not cleaned off immediately, may harden on your Mastiff’s fur, flare up an allergy or infect their skin. Wipes and Towels that we can moisten with our drinking water are usually enough to clean our dog up, especially if it’s sharing the tent with us.
Tip 9. Before and during the hiking trip, a dog-safe sunscreen can be applied to your Mastiff, if it has short fur or a light-colored nose. Ones with longer fur or dark-colored noses can skip the sunscreen.
Tip 10. Just as we human hikers have special shoes for climbing up the rocky terrain, our dog’s feet also need protection. Comfortable shoes with sturdy soles can protect their feet from both frostbite and the scalding heat. To break the shoes in and to get your Mastiff used to them, we should put them on them during the last days of their endurance training. Even though our Mastiff probably wouldn’t be comfortable in them at first, once they're accustomed to the shoes, it will be able to run like it has nothing on.
Tip 11. Like with every activity outside of our homes, it’s important to abide by the rules. On hiking trails, this means keeping your dog on a leash. While we’re comfortable that your hiking companion is not a biter, the unfamiliarity of the wilderness may stress them out and trigger aggression. A little off-leash freedom also puts the life of your dog at risk as it may encounter harmful animals and toxic plants. Even on trails where dogs are not required to be kept on a leash, the best way to keep yours away from danger is to keep it on a leash.
Tip 12. Be courteous and considerate to other hikers. All hikers want peace and serenity. One way we can contribute to the adventures of other people is to always yield to others. Some people have traumatic experiences with dogs, especially larger Mastiff-types! We can ease their burden by giving them the right of way and letting them carry on with their hike. especially on narrow trails. This means that leading your Mastiff to the opposite side of where other hikers are passing.
Tip 13. Take care of the environment by picking up non-biodegradable wastes and disposing of them properly. When camping, it’s best to bring reusable containers for our own and our dog’s food and toiletries. Leaving disposable wrappers at home can help us pack lighter and spend less energy carrying our wastes back to our homes. If disposal can’t be avoided, it’s best to bring a plastic bag or a sack that’s big enough to store all the wastes we’re going to be disposing of. Trash cans can be used when they’re available but we shouldn’t expect to see much of them in trails and isolated campsites. For biodegradable wastes like fruit peels and poop, we can use a hand shovel to bury them away from the trail and water sources.
Top 14. It’s wise to check for possible injuries to our Mastiff after the hike. Thoroughly inspecting them for ticks, wounds, foxtails, splinters, burns, sprains, vomiting, changes in appetite and other foreign objects after the hiking and camping trip should be our top priority. Giving your dog a warm post-hike bath will soothe it of tiredness. We should remove foreign objects stuck on our dog and apply hot or cold compresses on their injuries soon as possible. Applying the correct topical ointment is also important in relieving their pain.
Tip 15. In the unlikely event your Mastiff has injuries that you aren't confident can be treated with your first aid kit, you should immediately take them to the closest vet.
All my life I've been in love with one big dopey Mastiff family member after another. No other breed has given me so much pleasure, so it's a real pleasure for my team and I to be able to research everything there is to know about them in this blog. I hope you enjoy reading about them as much as we enjoy the writing :)
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