Hiking with your dog is a great way to get outdoors and explore nature. But how far can your dog hike in a day?
You may have someone tell you that dogs can hike the whole day without a problem, which is, in fact, what most dog owners assume. But the truth is every pup has different capabilities, and hiking distances vary depending on how well they are conditioned, including what type of terrain they’re used to hiking on.
To get the most out of your next outing, you’ll need to know what distance your pup can handle.
Let’s explore this in greater detail with some general guidelines for how long or how far a dog can hike safely in one day!
Read More: Hiking With Your Dog Off-Leash
How Long Can Your Dog Hike in a Day
Just like people, not all dog breeds are the same. For instance, smaller dogs tend to get tired quicker, while larger dogs can push themselves farther. And for that reason, you’ll want to take some time to get to know your own pup.
Even if you have a big dog breed known for having lots of endurance, they will still reach their limit at a very early point, especially if you aren’t doing regular training or exercising with them!
That was the case with both my Golden Retrievers when I first got them. They were so excited to be outside and walking through nature with me that they would choose to continue for as long as possible. I respect their endurance, but I could tell they both were getting tired 3 hours after our hikes, and their stamina reserves were running low. So, I ended up setting up a tent for us to rest and continue hiking the next day.
And while many things would affect how long you can hike with your dog in a day, here are some general guidelines that will give you an idea of how far your pup can go.
An active and healthy dog with proper conditioning can generally stay on the hiking trails between 5 and 8 hours a day with an average human pace of 3 mph, equating 15 to 24 miles. Again, this usually applies to healthy dogs who exercise regularly and have a decent diet.
Without proper training and conditioning, your dog won’t be able to hike this far. But you can still expect most can go for about 5 to 10 miles in one day without any problem, which is roughly a 1.5- to 3-hour hike.
Factors That Affect How Far Can Dogs Hike Safely
Now, let’s talk about the things that will affect how far a dog can hike in one day.
1. Breeds Matter!
As we touched on earlier, not all dog breeds are the same. For example, a Bernese Mountain Dog has a longer stride than a Chihuahua, so you’ll naturally get more mileage from them. And most working dogs will be able to stay out longer than companion dogs!
Also, short-snout dogs or brachycephalic breeds, like Pugs or Bulldogs, may have difficulty breathing while exercising, which can, in turn, limit their hiking distance.
Read More: 10 Best Hiking Dog Breeds
2. Your Dog's Size
Of course, the size of your dog matters when it comes to how long they can hike in a day. Small dogs won’t go as far as large breed dogs because they will get tired quicker.
That is due to the simple fact that they don’t have the same level of stamina or strength for such an arduous activity on top of carrying all their other gear, including food, if you let them wear a doggie hiking pack.
But if a small dog is appropriately conditioned, hiking up to 10 to 15 miles shouldn’t be a problem, although they may need extra breaks and a bit more time to rest along the way.
Read More: 9 Best Small Dogs for Hiking
3. Your Dog's Age
Elderly humans and kids can only do so much, right? The same goes for dogs too. A young dog or puppies has fewer energy reserves than adult dogs, meaning they can’t hike as far and long.
As for aging dogs or senior dogs, it’s just like people, their body becomes frail and doesn’t work as well, putting them at a higher risk of injury from falling or other hazards on the trail. Older dogs are also more likely to suffer from arthritis and other joint problems that restrict their movement, which can drastically affect their ability to go on a long hike.
4. Overall Health Status
Obviously, the overall health of your dog will also have an impact. A dog with any ailments or illness may find it hard to enjoy the outdoors because they are in pain, even if it’s not related to their paws or legs.
If they look very uncomfortable, you may want to skip the hike and save it for another day. And you should consult your vet first before embarking on a hike with a sick or injured dog!
5. How Often Your Dog Exercises
Of course, the regularity of your dog’s activity will affect how far they can hike in one day, which we have talked about earlier.
If you live a sedentary life at home most days and then decide to take them on an all-day adventure through the woods and mountains, they won’t be able to handle it and perhaps even hurt themselves.
So always keep their fitness level in mind before you set out on a hike and adjust your hiking adventure accordingly based on how well your pup does with walks and jogs around the neighborhood!
6. Type of Terrain
Hiking terrain, ground cover, elevation changes, inclines, water crossings, etc., all will affect how long your pup can maintain their energy levels and stamina reserves for a day-long hike.
Most pups with proper conditioning can still make great progress even when these things are present in certain degrees! But dogs who aren’t appropriately conditioned or haven’t hiked in slippery terrains before, for example, may struggle more during their first few times out there.
A good rule of thumb is to keep your dog on less challenging terrain and slowly accustom them to these steep grades and rocky surfaces.
7. The Weather Conditions
Another thing you need to take into account is the weather conditions. Regardless of your dog’s breed, age, or health status, and everything we’ve mentioned earlier, your canine may have difficulty hiking with you if it is too hot or too cold.
For example, if it is too hot, your pup may overheat, and heatstroke may occur. On the other hand, if it is freezing outside, your dog may develop frostbite or hypothermia if exposed to the frigid temperature for too long. This applies even more so for smaller dogs as they are more sensitive to temperature changes.
Yes, I know hiking in the snow with your dog or during the summer months is fun, but please do not overdo things! And make sure both you and your four-legged friend are appropriately dressed and have an emergency plan in place.
Read More: Is Your Dog Suitable to Hike in the Snow?
A Few Tips for Making The Most of Your Next Long Hikes With Your Canine!
1. Train Your Dog to Hike Long Distances
We’ve talked a lot about proper conditioning and how that will determine how far your dog can hike. So how do you do it exactly? How do you prepare them for hikes and help them become conditioned for long excursions?
Simple. You start small and do it slowly! Begin with short 1 to 2 hours walks around the neighborhood, then gradually increase your pup’s mileage over several weeks. A good rule of thumb is to create a gradual increase in intensity, distance, and inclines over time.
Read More: How to Train Your Dog for Hiking?
2. Keep an Eye on Your Dog's Body Language
Remember, not every dog is the same. What worked for your friend’s Labrador Retriever may not work for yours! So, you need to understand your dog well, learn to study your fido’s body language, and watch for any signs of discomfort.
If they pant heavily, show signs of fatigue, pain on their body or legs, or have symptoms of heatstroke or other similar problems, it’s time to take a rest!
3. Stop for Water Breaks
Staying hydrated will help your pup stay energized and will prevent them from overheating! So make sure you stop for rest, give them plenty of water, and even have a quick snack if they’re up for it.
However, it’s never a good idea to let your dog drink out of rivers, lakes, ponds, or other bodies of water as that may contain parasites or bacteria that can make your pup sick. So, always provide them with clean drinking water throughout the day!
4. Be Prepared
As with all outdoor excursions, be sure to pack some first aid supplies, especially if hiking long distances. The reason is that hiking can cause abrasions, cuts, and bruises from running into rocks or falling down steep slopes. These minor injuries may not seem serious at first but can lead to infection if left untreated! Also, bring a portable dog-friendly camping tent if you want to stay overnight out there.
5. Protect Your Dog's Paws from Rough Terrain With Dog Boots
Your dog’s paw pads are at risk for injury when hiking over rough terrain. So make sure they are protected with sturdy boots that fit well and that they have time to adapt to them before heading into the wild! Or you can also consider applying paw ointment to protect their feet.
Read More: 10 Ultimate Dog Paw Care Tips
6. Microchip Your Dog
If you ever lose your beloved canine companion, the chances of reuniting with them are slim to none if they don’t have a microchip. So make sure to microchip your canine or have them wear a collar with identification tags so others can contact you in case something happens. Alternatively, you can get a dog GPS collar tracker that can help you track your fido’s location, so you will know where they are at all times!
7. Start Early and Follow All Trail Rules and Regulations
It’s always best to start early in the morning! This way, you can avoid the heat of the day and also maximize daylight hours. Also, be sure to check the trail rules and regulations before going out there so that your trip will be hassle-free, and be sure to follow them for everyone’s safety!
So how far can a dog hike or travel in a day?
Most dogs and an average dog can generally hike up to 5 to 10 miles.
So make sure to monitor your furry friend closely, take frequent breaks, give them plenty of water along the way, and have an emergency plan in place! And it’s your job as a responsible dog owner to always go at a pace that works best for your hiking buddy.
If they’re tired or seem like they’ve had enough for the day, respect their wishes and turn back. It’s better to end things early than to have them injured or become ill.