Hiking is a healthy and fun way to get in touch with nature. There is nothing like being active in the great outdoors. Hiking is a great physical activity for both humans and their furry friends. But be warned, not all pets make good hiking companions.
So are Labradoodles good hiking dogs?
Dogs are the most suited to hiking though not all breeds are suited to a walk on the path. Labradoodles, however, make excellent hiking dogs. As long as you take the proper precautions and work with your pet to condition them for hiking, you will both have an enjoyable experience.
Like many larger and athletic dogs, Labradoodles thrive on physical activity. They can be high energy and will benefit from hikes and walks. Let’s learn a little bit more about the characteristics and disposition of the breed to see why they are so well suited to hiking.
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Labradoodles – The Perfect Combination
Though they may seem like a new designer breed, the term labradoodle actually was created in 1955. It wasn’t until recently though that the breed and name “labradoodle” rose in popularity. As their title suggests, Labradoodles are a crossbreed between a Labrador and a Poodle. The Poodle may be standard, miniature, or toy.
For the purposes of this article, we will be referring to a cross with a standard poodle as the small breeds (miniature and toy) are not suited to hiking.
The appearance of Labradoodles highlights the crossing of the breed. They typically have curly hair as the poodle coat is inherited. This means the hypoallergenic trait of poodles is also passed on, making the breed ideal for those with allergies. The coloring of their coat can vary from black to brown and even golden.
They are a larger dog as both Labradors and poodles are bigger in size. Generally, they weigh 60-65 pounds and stand 21-24 inches at the shoulder. Their size and athletic build make them perfect for physical activity, like hiking!
Their personality is affectionate, good with families, intelligent, high energy, and playful. They need to be both mentally and physically stimulated to remain happy. This means that they need regular activity and attention. They require at least thirty minutes of exercise each day and will benefit from closer to sixty minutes per day. Even so, they may be overly exuberant.
Putting the Energy to Good Use
Hiking is an awesome activity for your exercise loving Labradoodle. Labradoodles also really enjoy being with their owners so they will enjoy the quality time spent hiking with those they love.
However, you can’t just expect to head out and walk ten miles in the wilderness with your furry friend. There are a few things you must do beforehand.
Conditioning Your Pet (and maybe yourself too!)
Though your dog may be energetic, he likely cannot go from snoozing on his bed most of the day to achieving a ten-mile hike. Much like you can’t go from relaxing on the couch to completing a marathon. You and your pet will need to work up to taking hikes of any distance.
Short walks around the neighborhood will be beneficial for both you and your Labradoodle. By starting with short walks and progressively increasing their length you and your pooch will build up your endurance. Additionally, your dog’s paws should toughen up by walking on various terrains.
Taking strolls down the street will also give you a chance to assess your dog’s obedience and disposition when walking. Learning to walk on a leash and obey commands when on or off the leash is essential to a successful hike. When you are out in the wilderness other animals, new smells, and interesting sounds will be very tempting to your Labradoodle.
Starting Off on the Right Foot
Establishing good walking behavior is necessary before taking a hike. If you have never used a collar or leash, let your dog get used to wearing them before heading out for a walk. Once your dog is used to the collar and leash you can move to the next step.
Hold on though, you aren’t ready to step out just yet. Make sure your dog has a known cue. This can be a sound (like a clicker) or even a phrase that lets your dog know they are performing well and will likely get a treat. You can use the cue to signal to your Labradoodle that they are behaving well with the leash.
Once you have a cue and comfortability with the leash practice taking a few laps inside. Your dog shouldn’t be pulling you but walking diligently beside you. Additionally, you want them to periodically be looking to you for guidance and direction. You are walking your Labradoodle, not the other way around.
Finally, head outdoors with your walk. This will give you both a chance to practice with all the sights and sounds of a new environment. Use your cues to keep your dog from pulling, lunging, and barking. In the case that they don’t work, don’t pull or jerk your dog but standstill. This will let your pup know that you are in control of the walking motion.
When you are comfortable with how well your dog obeys and walks on a leash, it is time for a hike. When hiking you and your dog can be prone to many more hazards than while walking around your neighborhood. For this reason, it is important to establish proper obedience and walking behavior beforehand.
Choosing a Great Trail
The final component before you set out on a hike is choosing an appropriate trail. Not all parks, lands, or even national parks allow pets. You will want to search for dog-friendly hiking paths in your area. If you have a park nearby be sure to check out their rules and regulations before arriving with your labradoodle.
Choosing dog-friendly hiking trails is key. Image from Pexels.com
Additionally, it can be helpful to find somewhat secluded and less busy paths for your first few hikes. Not all people are dog lovers and may not approve of your dog on the trail. Also having fewer distractions will be easier for both of you while your Labradoodle becomes accustomed to hiking.
Choosing the right trail is key, but your pooch (and you) will also need to abide by proper hiking etiquette. Keeping your dog on a leash is for both their safety and the safety of others. On most public trails your pet is required to be on a leash no longer than six feet.
A leash prevents your pet from running off and getting lost, approaching other dogs, jumping on passerby’s, and much more. Mountain bikers are very common on hiking trails, runners can be as well. Both bikers and joggers move very quickly. Having your dog on a leash by your side helps to protect against an accidental collision.
Finally, picking up after your pet should be common sense. Bring along plenty of doggie bags to pick up after your Labradoodle. Be sure not to leave the bags along the path but take them with you until you can dispose of them properly.
Another component to an enjoyable hike is the right gear. Just as you need appropriate shoes, clothing, and fuel, so does your Labradoodle. You will need a leash and a collar or halter. Additionally, you will want to bring water, treats (or food depending on the length of your hike), and a first aid kit.
The good news is that you don’t have to be burdened down with all your pets gear. Many outdoor stores sell gear packs for dogs. These are essentially backpacks fashioned into a saddle shape that your dog can wear. They can be stocked with all of your Labradoodles necessities.
It is important to properly fit your pack to your dog and make sure not to pack it too full. Before taking it on the trail perform a test run at home with only a few items. It will probably take some time for your dog to get used to the feeling of carrying a pack.
A gear pack isn’t the only hiking accessory for dogs. Did you know they make dog hiking boots? These can be helpful if the trail is particularly rocky or tough on your dog’s paws. They can help prevent cuts, splinters, and a general wearing down of their pads.