You, your dog, and nature. What could be better? Hitting the trail solo with your dog could be one of the best things you do for yourself, your dog, and the bond between you. It offers the opportunity to unplug, unwind, and get outside your comfort zone. It may seem a little daunting at first, hitting the trail alone with just you, your pack, and your dog. But, as with most things, a little preparedness goes a long way. Trust us, the benefits are well worth it.
When getting ready to head out, make sure you research the trail first so you know exactly what type of terrain you're likely to encounter, how long you'll be out, what kind of facilities are available, and whether you'll have a cell signal or not. This will help inform you about how much water to bring, how many snacks to pack for you and your pup, what level of first aid kit to bring, and if any other special gear is required. If heading out in a remote area without cell service, be sure to tell a friend where you're going, how long you'll be gone, and when they should expect to hear from you again.
Despite the slight amount of extra preparation, hiking alone with your dog is well worth it. Spending time exploring and experiencing new places builds trust and teamwork between you and your dog like few things can. When you’re out there alone together, your dog relies on you and you rely on your dog. You’re trusting each other to take care of the other one, and this quiet adventure time strengthens that bond.
Solo hiking with your dog also builds confidence and trust in yourself. When it’s just you and your dog, you can’t rely on others to do the navigating or check the weather. Your entire experience is all on you. While this may feel scary at first, pushing past your comfort zone and handling situations you would normally rely on others for builds confidence, and empowers you to experience more and wider-varied adventure down the road!
There is also the value of unplugging from the outside world and spending some quiet time with your thoughts that comes from solo hiking. Dogs are great companions, but they’re also the silent type. Hiking alone with your dog gives you quiet space and time to simply be in the present moment, experiencing nature and your dog without the nearly constant chatter of the modern world. It allows space to create memorable experiences without distraction.
Although there are many emotional benefits to hiking alone with your dog, there are also some plain ol’ practical benefits as well. Dogs can sense things we humans just can’t. Your dog is likely to be the first to let you know that there is wildlife in the brush or the person coming up on the trail is just a little “off” and should be handled with caution. Dogs' intuition, hearing and sense of smell just can't be beaten.
Solo hiking with your dog takes a little more planning and quite possibly a trip outside your comfort zone, but the stronger bond between you and your dog, the increased confidence you’ll feel and the chance to unplug and unwind is more than worth it.