The Daily Pip

Promoting rescue, adoption and second chances for dogs, cats, bunnies, and their peeps

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Hiking With Couch Potatoes And Rescue Dogs

Hiking Tips For Couch Potatoes and Rescue Dogs With Issues

Ruby is your basic couch potato, not lazy, just chill. As a rescue pup with a troubled past, she likes to remind us that now is her time to relax and live stress-free in a safe place (AKA the couch or our bed).

She enjoys walks around the neighborhood, but longer hikes in unfamiliar locations make her nervous as do new people. But she also has some abandonment issues and hates being left out. We have slowly been exposing her to new people and places  (sometimes rescue dogs need a little extra encouragement). Fresh air, exercise, and new experiences are good for her health and confidence. We take things slowly and always have a back up plan in case she gets anxious.

Tips for hiking with anxious rescue dogs

This weekend we took a trip to Starved Rock State Park, a wilderness area on the Illinois River. It's known for its steep sandstone canyons formed by glacial water and waterfalls. One of the few places in Illinois with hills.

Ruby is occasionally reactive with certain men and also doesn't like when people approach her from the side. Fortunately she is small enough that I can scoop her up and move her if I sense trouble. Saturday was a  big step for Ruby (and us) as the park was crowded with people and other dogs. She was relaxed and confident and there were no incidents. We have definitely turned a corner!

Tips for stress free hikes with coach potatoes and rescue dogs

Ruby's Tips For Stress Free Hiking With Rescue Dogs 

Here are some basic tips that have helped us reach this milestone. 

1. Select Your Location Carefully. Pick a destination that matches your dog's personality, stamina, and comfort level. We choose locations that offer short and longer trail loops. You end up where you start and never risk going too far or having to carry your tired dog back to the car. For anxious or reactive dogs, find a quiet trail with space to let others pass.

2. Be Prepared. Make sure your dog is protected against fleas and ticks, and tags are current. Bring a basic first aid kit (or keep one in the car) including antiseptic wipes, antibacterial ointment, gauze, scissors, tape, rubber gloves, and basic grooming wipes. Obviously always consult the weather forecast and take appropriate precautions. 

3. Pay Attention. Be aware of your surroundings and watch for any triggers that might stress your dog out. Be ready to step off the path and wait for other dogs, kids, etc. to pass. Do not force your dog to do anything that would frighten them. Stay off your phone, stay in the moment, and stay in control of your dog.

4. Follow The Rules. Read and obey all trail regulations regarding dogs. Check leash length regulations as many locations have limits. Keep your dog leashed at all times and never leave them unattended. Dogs should have some basic training under their belts and know how to sit, stay, and come.

Tips on taking your rescue dog hiking

5. Stay Hydrated and Well-Fed. Pack water, collapsible water bowls, treats for your dog, and snacks for you. It won't be nearly as much fun if someone (you) gets hangry!

6. Slow Down and Enjoy The Scenery. Take it easy and don't rush your dog. Stay in control, but also let them set the pace. Smelling trees, fences, rocks, and trails are like reading a book for your dog. Let them see they story through to the end.

7. Remember, It's Not a Competition. There will always be smarter, faster, stronger, more playful, or better trained dogs out there. Be friendly and courteous, and when appropriate, move off the trail to let faster dogs (and humans) pass, and then continue on at your own pace. Don't compare your dog to other dogs - all dogs are different

8. Enjoy Some Good Old-Fashioned Bonding Time. Stop for breaks, games, picnics, and naps. Turn off your phone and focus completely on the magic and wonder that is your rescue dog!

9. Double-Check For Unwanted Guests. Always double-check your dog for ticks, burrs, and other unwanted guests. A post-hike bath is always a good idea especially if your dog has any skin sensitivities or allergies.

Most importantly, stay calm and have fun. Your dog will look to you for emotional cues and be happier and more relaxed if you are as well.



Ruby's Wonder Woman impression!
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49 comments

  1. That's grrrrreat advice and we're so pleased Ruby enjoyed her hike.
    Toodle pip!
    Bertie.

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  2. That's very wise and timely advice Ruby, especially for my cousin Willow
    You found a beautiful place to go fur walkies and I can see from you smiley face just how much you enjoyed yourself Ruby!
    Loves and licky kisses
    Princess Leah xxx

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  3. Glad you are getting used to different things Ruby. Your Mom is doing such a good job getting you more relaxed. You all have a super day.

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  4. Having had a fearful dog once, I can relate. So happy for you and Ruby that your adventure went so well. Great video Wonder Ruby!

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  5. love your tips, it is important to follow da rules when we are out and about... such hiking adventures should make good memories for us dogs and for da humans...

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  6. I love Starved Rock State Park! Haven't been there is several years, since we moved up to WI. Looks like you had a great adventure.

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  7. I'm so glad to hear that Ruby had such a successful trip to Starved Rock. Slow, positive introductions to new places is key for timid pups. We have on too. Keep up the good work.

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  8. Looks like it was fun to explore even though you were a little nervous. Good tips since I'm a couch potato
    Lily & Edward

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  9. Great post. It's wonderful to see Ruby out and about!

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  10. I think most of my dogs would be the same when it came to taking them out hiking. Thanks for the tips I should give it a try

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  11. Great post! One of my dogs is weary of strangers and can be reactive in certain situations. We LOVE hiking in out of the way locations because we run into way less people than we do just walking around our city neighborhood.

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  12. We are active hikers with our pup and although he has no people issues (he is super friendly) we make sure that our hikes are not lengthy and the path is covered so that we have shade and he does not tire out.

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  13. Oh Ruby, I'm so proud of you! Those are excellent tips, and not just for rescues as both Pip and especially Jess are reactive dogs. I'm always careful when I take them anywhere.

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  14. Dogs like Ruby can be so rewarding when they show the results of your patient training

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  15. These are great tips. Keeping a first aid kit in the car is easy and you never know when you will need it. My favorite hack is to bring a lint roller and go over my dogs' coats before getting back in the car to check for those unwanted visitors.

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  16. We're so proud of you, Ruby ! Great post, and very useful tips. Purrs

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  17. Yay progress! I admit we did not take our couch potato foster hiking but he was of the lazy sort and I really didn't want to have to carry him. Mr. N is always ready to go, go, go!

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  18. It's so nice you were having a fun time sweet Ruby!

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  19. Basically, you are NOT going hiking for you (until they get used to it) you are focused 100% on your dog and keeping them confirtable at all times - right? Ruby will look back one day and say 'Wow, I was scared of this?" before setting off to enjoy herself!!

    Marjorie and the Dash Kitten Crew

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  20. Great advice, so happy Ruby is able to enjoy the outdoors!

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  21. ruby....we iz buzzed happee for ewe...small stepz inn deed leed ta larger N life kinda stuff....ewe noe, { even if we iznt makin senze } N hi ta DA BOZZ!!! ☺☺♥♥

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  22. Wonderful advice and I love taking Layla for long walks whenever possible and adventures to new parks but I do it when there are not a lot of dogs around as she is still not comfortable with big dogs - small ones she deals with, although I cannot complain as we have come a long long way since she was rescued so seeing how wonderful Ruby is doing is awesome, I always say the tough love and patience pays off in the long run

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  23. I loved the part where you said walks are like reading a book for dogs. So true! I wonder all the time what they are reading about. :)

    Way to go Ruby! I love when they take that giant leap of faith. So proud.

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  24. Glad it was a good experience for Ruby! All due to your love and patience!
    hugs
    Hazel & Mabel

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  25. Glad to hear Ruby is getting better about being in different situations. I love the Wonder Woman jump in the video! It sounds like you've accomplished a lot with her.

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  26. Way to go Ruby! We're glad to hear you had such a fun time on your hike.

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  27. What great tips!! We especially like the reminders to stay in the moment(and off of you phone!).

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  28. Starved Rock is not some place I would ever think you would take Ruby, I'm very impressed, I've never even been there. Mom has only been once, she would like to take me some day, but not in summer, too crowded and hot! Love Dolly

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  29. You go Ruby and what a great, calm and patient endeavor of love on your behalf! Every pup deserves our best and you've certainly done that - Ruby will just keep on learning how to explore, and continue loving you! :)

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  30. We're glad to hear Ruby is making progress. Those are some great tips to follow.

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  31. You must live near Chicago since Starved Rock is not too far from there. I live in Waukegan, an hour north of Chicago. Always good to know a neighbor. Loved your tips. One other one that I might add is to build up your dog's endurance by slowly taking longer walks. I have older dogs and they frequently hurt themselves over what seems to be nothing, and then they hold up a leg and are reluctant to walk. Always have a backup plan,although sometimes just reassuring them helps.

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  32. Great motivation for people with overweight/old/slow dogs!! Even THEY can do it! :)

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  33. That's so sad. We love going to new places with new sights and smells, and people too. One never knows what happened in the past I guess. Hopefully she will get better and better.

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  34. I have to be careful with Harley when it comes to adventurous walks. He is known to turn around and head back home if he's not happy with the terrain or the distance. LOL Great tips, but I think I'll leave the hiking for me and Jaxson!

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  35. Great tips, now if you could just pass some of that over to my lazy pups, then we are good to go!!! BOL!

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  36. Kilo the Pug has a lot in common with Ruby. He gets reactive and nervous with some strangers and dogs but is small enough to scoop up. He is terrified in parks but doesn't mind hiking with no one around or by the water. Great tips thanks! He also gets too hot easily so I have to watch that. XS

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  37. Yeah Ruby and your patient and understanding peeps. Good advice for the rest of us too.

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  38. We went through many of those same experiences with LadyBug. You have lots of good tips here. Glad Ruby enjoyed her hike.

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  39. Yay for Ruby! And you, for recognizing her fears and having the patience for her to work through them! I've never heard of this park before ... but I'm only 3-4 hours away, so I should check it out. I love the Great Lakes so I might as well make a weekend trip of it :) I know the pain of loving someone who's fearful. It truly hurts me to see Bear scared of everything - but I haven't been very successful in changing that.

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  40. I'm glad that Ruby is making such progress. It sounds as if you had a wonderful hike with her. I love her Wonder Woman leap!!!

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  41. There's something special about getting outside with your dog. I'm the couch potato, but always feel so much better after a walk with the dogs. So why don't we do it more often?

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  42. Awe Ruby!! It's great that you are making progress! I loved your slow-mo leap :-) I'll bet you really enjoyed your adventure...

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  43. Such great advice! We are happy that Miss Ruby enjoyed hiking!

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  44. This is such important information, I'm so glad you shared it! Ruby looks so cool doing her Wonder Woman imitation - Go Ruby!!
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

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  45. Congratulations on your successful outdoor adventures! We love being outside and your rules for a good experience for everyone involved are PAWfect!

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  46. Great leap, Ruby! And great tips too. Our pup is too old to go hiking now. In fact, the hubby had to carry him home on a walk one evening recently. He'll join you in being a chill couch potato.

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  47. Yay for you, Ruby! We are so proud of you and you are definitely coming a long way. Paws up!

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