Most Saturdays in Spring or Fall I like to go hiking. I prefer light trails near my home in Chicago, Ill. The best part of my hiking experience is that I have a great company – my dog Lexi. Lexi is a 3-year old Cavapoo, a super-intelligent and very friendly pet.
Frequently asked questions by a great number of people that know me and my Lexi is ” Can She really go hiking? Can Cavapoo go for long walks?”
I honestly do understand their doubts as small dogs usually don’t handle hiking well as larger breeds. Smaller dogs need to put more effort and energy into it. You have to be aware of the fact the smaller breeds can easily run themselves into trouble ( exhausting or overheating ).
Basically yes, you can take your Cavapoo hiking, but before that check this article as you might find some useful tips on how to spend a joyful day in nature with your Cavapoo avoid possibly dangerous and bad situations.
How To Prepare For Hiking With Your Cavapoo?
Physical activity is very important for Cavapoos as well as for any other dog breed. Before you plan your hiking trip it is good to know the walking and exercise needs and abilities of your dog.
Cavapoo age limitations for hiking
Don’t go out at all with the puppy until fully vaccinated. Let 2 weeks to pass after vaccination and then start with short walks ( cca 5 min) around your home. Gradually increase the number of mins you spend outdoor (add 5min for every month of age, for example, a 3-month-old puppy should stay cca 15min outside) with your baby dog until he is one year old and you can treat him as a fully grown dog then.
Fully grown Cavapoo should spend 30-60 min daily in walking or any other type of exercise. They can walk around 1 mile in 20-30 min
Senior Cavapoos (11 years old+ ) can walk the same mileage but at a slower pace or they could make a shorter distance, depends on their health condition. Older dogs may have serious problems with joints and arthritis so think twice before you plan a hiking trip with your elderly dog.
Cavapoo size limitation for hiking
Small dogs have short legs and that is why they’re required to put much more effort to keep up the pace. Cavapoos are really curios dogs, may show a lot of energy and excitement. On the other hand, those short legs will get tired soon. That is why it is essential for you to stop it before it is totally exhausted.
Cavapoo hiking experience as an limitation for hiking
If your dog is new to hiking, begin with the vet visit. Ask your vet for advice and opinion. If he/she thinks that you can try, start with shorter walks and hikes on light trails. It takes some time to build up strength and stamina. You cannot really go on hiking if you are not physically prepared for that. The same is for your dog. He needs to build up muscle strength first to avoid injuries in the future.
Cavapoo parasite preventives for outdoor
Your vet might also recommend some additional vaccine if you plan to hike in certain areas.
Ask for parasite preventives as well as ticks, fleas and mosquitoes that pose a risk to your dog can carry some pathogens that can hurt your dog. There is a range of parasite preventives from chewing products to topical liquids and injections.
How To Build Up The Hiking Skills In Your Cavapoo?
It is super important to train your dog on how to find his way over, around, under or through the obstacle on the hiking route.
For some small dogs such as Cavapoos, it might be challenging to cope with rough terrain so it is quite useful to help him build up the confidence and to encourage your little one to tackle obstacles.
You can face many obstacles even on light trails such as larger rocks, streams, branches. Even though these potential barriers don’t seem intimidating not for you nor for some larger dog, for small Cavapoo it could look like a huge problem that he has to ”solve”.
The ability to jump is crucial here and something that your Cavapoo needs to practice. So before you head out to some hiking trail in the woods, your Cavapoo should pass the ”Obstacle course” first.
Crash Obstacle Course For Your Mini-Hiker
- Start with balance training. Roadside or curb are perfect spots to begin. Roadsides are stable and very low to the ground but yet narrow enough to help your dog learn to balance. Encourage your small dog to step on the curb and then start with voice commands such as ”sit”, ”stand up”, ”lay down”.
- It is important to stay on the curb without stepping off. After this, you can pass to advanced balance training by encouraging your dog to do the same thing on slanted surfaces and pillars and even add some commands such as ”Turn around”- without jumping off the pillar or curb, of course.
- Benches are also quite useful for improving jumping skills. Your dog will practice to jump up onto the bench, then to run along the bench and if you find two or more benches in the row he can jump from one another. Great workout!
- Stairs can also be fun. Learn your dog to take a staircase but one single step at the time without a hurry. Another great exercise is to learn him to take the stairs backward.
- Trees can help in this training as well. Practice handstand with your dog and use trees to balance on.
- Use other things you can run into while walking through your neighborhood such as fire hydrants. Encourage your dog to climb on it. The perfect way to practice balance! Short walls and ramps can serve the same purpose.
Don’t do this unless your dog is completely healthy. Don’t ask him to jump too far, or from a great height which could hurt his legs. Make sure he is absolutely physically capable to accomplish your requests.
How To Pick Up The Right Hiking Trail with Your Cavapoo?
Picking the right trail is essential for having good time in the nature with your Cavapoo.
Once you find the right trail, double-check if dogs are allowed. There are some national, state or local parks where dogs are not allowed.
Make sure that the trail is not too rough and uneven as small dogs are not designed for rocky terrain or steep cliffs. Choose lighter rails instead.
Avoid any trails with larger creeks and streams. Although these obstacles are not such a big deal for larger breeds, for smaller dogs pose a serious threat. Most of the dogs can swim but crossing the creek that is deeper then the dog’s legs might end up badly. A small dog can get swept downstream.
If you cannot avoid water, bring along a flotation device for your small dog with you. The perfect one is with a handle on top.
If possible don’t go on too packed trails. Not all people on the trail will come with dogs, some people are scared of dogs so it is better to hike on a less packed route.
Gear For Hiking With Your Cavapoo
Although you cannot go on rough trails and hike for hours with your Cavapoo you still need to bring along some things for your dog with you.
Leash and harness
Very useful things especially for smaller dogs. You can help them get over some obstacles on the route. To lift your dog over some big barriers such as a fallen log or similar. If you use a harness with vivid colors that may increase the visibility of your dog and reduce the possibility for your dog to get lost.
Remember that some people are afraid of dogs so other hikers may feel uncomfortable if they face with your off-leash dog
An off-leash dog that runs out of trail can damage fauna and cause distress in wild animals.
If you need to get over some creek, a leash can provide safety to your dog. The leash can also prevent your dog from falling off some ledge and getting injured.
Having your Cavapoo on a leash will allow you better manage encounters with other dogs, mountain bikers, wild animals etc.
Bring along an extra leash in case your regular one breaks.
Plenty of food and snacks for cavapoo to recharge
Small dogs need more energy to keep up the track. So you need to have plenty of snacks for your little one. Bring along dry food and tasteful snacks so your Cavapoo recharge on the way.
Note that your Cavapoo’s calorie requirements may double when hiking.
Collapsible water bowls
Don’t forget water and a collapsible water bowl for your Cavapoo. Never allow him to drink from creeks, streams and rivers as you never know which pathogens may ingest that way.
Make sure your Cavapoo drinks some water on every 20-30min of walking.
I believe that you know that you should bring water with you because clean water sources in hiking area can be limited.
Always pick up the poop and pack it out. Bring enough poop bags and make sure you leave to trace in nature. Left poop can make a mess to other hikers but also can make a mess to nature.
Dog’s poop may contain some parasites and pathogens that are not endemic to that area and introducing them may cause damage to the environment.
Dog’s First Aid Kit
You can either buy a Travel -size pet first aid kit or you can make it by yourself. It is important to have:
- saline solution
- antibiotic ointments
- multi-tool with tweezers
- tick removal tool
- cotton swabs
- blood clotting powder.
Extra tip – bring along with you a towel and a dog’s brush. The towel can help you dry your little friend if he gets wet on the way or to cool him down and the brush is very useful to get rid of foxtails or to check if there are any ticks on your dog.
The backpack to use in case you need to carry your Cavapoo
Most probably you will put all the things we mentioned in a backpack but don’t forget to leave some space for your small dog too. He might get so tired and he cannot walk anymore.
Maybe he needs a longer break and you simply don’t have enough time for that. In that case, the best solution is to carry him in a backpack.
What Are The Dangers on Hiking With Your Cavapoo?
Small dogs may try to keep up the pace and unlike larger breeds will not self-limit the way. If you don’t notice on time they end up super exhausted. That is why it is important to stop your little on time and make him get some rest.
Overheating is another danger especially for smaller dogs. Smaller dogs don’t have much body mass, they are closer to the ground so they catch all the heat radiating off it and get hotter faster than larger breeds.
Your Cavapoo may run into poison ivy or poison oak. These plants contain oil that might irritate the skin and cause rashes. Although it is very rare that oil works its way through the coat and down to the skin causing the rash. It is more likely that your Cavapoo will pick the oils and bring them to you, which is not good either. Check those plants, learn to recognize them, and keep away.
Pay special attention to your Cavapoo’s paws. If he stops to lick them, you may discover wounds from thorns or sharp rocks. If your Cavapoo has extra sensitive pads consider booties for more comfort.
There are other dangerous situations that we already mentioned – passing the deep stream or encounter other dogs and wild animals, drinking water from a potentially contaminated source etc.
How To Know If Your Cavapoo is Done With Hiking For The Day?
Since smaller dogs like to push them over the limit, it’s good to learn the signs that indicate your dog is done with hiking for today.
- Very heavy breathing. If heavy breathing continues even after a 15min break, your dog is done with hiking for today.
- Stays behind. If your Cavapoo that was leading all the way, not stays behind you, it’s a clear sign your dog is getting fatigued.
- Breathless dog with a distended tongue refers to a very tired dog.
- Unstable dog. If your Cavapoo looks unstable on his feet, give him immediate rest and try to figure the cause of it. It might be dehydration, hypothermia, heatstroke.
- Limping dog. If your dog starts to limp, look for injuries or debris or crack in his feet and you don’t find any, it might be a sign of pain or simply over-use.
- Red gums and fast heart rate may refer to heat stroke
- A cold dog with slow and shallow breathing may suffer from hypothermia.
- A dog that is licking a certain area every time when he stops might have some abrasion there.
If you have a healthy and adult Cavapoo, he is perfectly capable to go hiking with you.
Remember to prepare your small dog for this trip, choose light trails and bring along all supplies you might need( food, water, first aid kit, backpack).
Don’t push him too much as Cavapoos should not walk for miles in one day.
Always pay full attention to your dog and make him stop and rest even before you notice the first signs of fatigue.