Cani-Hiking: A Guide to Hiking with Your Dog

More physically demanding than your everyday dog walk, but every bit as enjoyable, cani-hiking is a unique outdoor activity that allows you to breathe in fresh air, get your body moving and, most importantly, spend precious quality time with your favourite canine companion! Not only is it a fun muscle-building workout for you, but there are numerous health benefits for your dog too, particularly in relation to your furry friend’s cardiovascular, muscular, and skeletal systems. And, what's more, this dynamic, explorative, and liberating activity is said to strengthen the bond between you and your pet. So, if you're looking for a new way to exercise without having to leave your pup at home, why not read on to discover more about what cani-hiking entails...

Cani-hiking vs dog walking: what's the best activity?

You may be wondering what cani-hiking is, and how it differs from your usual daily dog walk. The perfect way to maintain your weight and increase your leg strength, cani-hiking is a fast-paced activity that sees owners being guided by their dog. Instead of holding the leash, this role reversal has your dog leading you. Attached to your dog by a harness, they will pull you along at a brisk walking pace, rather than a running pace as seen in the similar sport of canicross. Of course, the speed at which you’re carried along will depend on the temperament of your dog, your own fitness level, and to what degree you let your dog direct your steps without gentle intervention. Thankfully, when going uphill, your dog’s muscular strength will help you to advance more quickly and easily, making your workout all the more manageable. This is especially ideal if you're planning to go on a longer hike with children, as it makes the hike less strenuous for them. Just bear in mind that cani-hiking is not recommended for children under the age of 6, and that it's best to attach two children to one dog to balance out the weight. On the way back down, your dog will also offer assistance by pulling you forward, keeping precious momentum going just when your energy levels are likely starting to drop, so that – even after a long hike – the descent feels like a walk in the park! Cani-hiking is therefore a perfect opportunity for an assisted workout. 

Huskies are the breed best suited to this sport, as not only are they strikingly beautiful, but super-athletic and powerful too! While not everyone is lucky enough to have a Husky at home, you can bring your dog along for the ride if you deem them large enough and fit enough to partake in this activity. Just remember that cani-hiking should be safe and enjoyable for your pet too, so if your dog is under 15 months old, is getting on the older side of life, or has any medical issues, it's perhaps best to leave them relaxing at home. But don't worry – many experts and organisations offer canitrail and canicross experiences, providing you with the perfect pup and all the equipment necessary! So, whether you head out with your own dog, or get to know a new furry friend – a plus for those who don’t have a hound at home – cani-hiking is the perfect way to enjoy the awe-striking landscapes nature has to offer, all the while bonding with a super-cute companion!


Wondering what gear you'll need to pack? From collars, leads and harnesses to collapsible dog bowls, we have it all!

Before heading off on your hike, you will need to make sure that you are totally prepared with all the necessary equipment for both you and your pooch. So, what will you need? Let's start with your dog! You will want them to be as comfortable and secure as possible, which is why it's important to select the right type of collar and lead. A typical collar is not recommended, as you definitely don't want your dog pulling your weight with their neck. An X harness that attaches just before the tail will allow your dog to pull using their entire body weight instead. It also gives your dog more freedom of movement, so that they can enjoy the experience to the max! Attach an elasticated lead to the harness to remove the risk of any discomfort from sudden, jerky movements, and to give your dog total liberty to roam! And to make the adventure even more pleasant for your furry friend, bring enough water to keep them hydrated. This is a non-negotiable! Alongside a full water bottle, a collapsible dog bowl will come in super handy when it’s time to quench your dog's thirst. Finally, while dog treats aren't strictly necessary, they may prove useful for obedience training purposes, and we're sure that your dog will be thrilled if you’ve got some to hand too!
 So, now that we've established your dog's needs, what about yours? First and foremost, you will need to make sure that you've got suitable footwear for your excursion. While trainers are the ideal choice for canicross given it's faster pace, when it comes to cani-hiking a good pair of walking boots or walking shoes is a must for combatting rocky terrains and downhill descents, offering non-slip adhesion while also providing vital support for your feet and ankles. In terms of clothing, we recommend wearing something loose and breathable, which could mean shorts and a t-shirt in warmer weather, or jogging bottoms and a jacket on colder days. If you're looking for further guidance, why not check out our tips on What to Wear for Outdoor Sports? A backpack will serve you well on your adventure too, as you'll need somewhere to carry your water bottle, dog bowl, dog treats and dog waste bags.


What kind of trail is the best for hikes with dogs?

Brimming with beautiful green spaces, you'll find an abundance of tracks and trails in the UK that are perfect for your cani-hiking adventures. However, our top choice for the ultimate canitrail experience would have to be the forest! The perfect place to breathe in clean and fresh air, you can often find signposted paths that go on for miles, allowing you sufficient time and space for a good workout. A wide, open forest is also a dog's paradise, so you can rest assured that your furry friend will be happy! The small bumps, rocks and hills are perfect for beginners, as you can get used to climbing and descending alongside your dog without overdoing it and pushing your body too far on the first go.

However, for the more experienced and adventurous among you, you may want to head straight to the hills! Especially if you’ve got an excitable and exceptionally energetic dog in tow. Most hills have trails that are perfect for this particular activity, and the steeper incline will allow both you and your dog to get your heart rates up and your muscles pumping! And for the experts among you, you may want to embrace the challenge of a mountain. We suggest smaller mountains to begin with, so that you can make sure both you and your pup are ready to tackle the gradient. Cani-hiking safety is priority though, so, even as you get more adept at the sport, stick to gentler peaks and well-trodden mountain trails.


So, lace up your boots, pack your bag and take your dog on that hike!

So, there you have it, a new fun and unique sport to try out with the best exercise buddy you could ask for! Whether spending quality time alone with your dog or heading out as a whole pet-loving family, this activity is a great way to jazz up your everyday dog walks and discover new places and beautiful landscapes in the process! After hours of enjoyment, you're guaranteed to feel good (if not a little tired out) when your hike is complete. And, even if the intensity takes its toll, that post-exercise nap will feel well-deserved, for both you and your pup! So, go on... Give your dog the reigns and get cani-hiking!

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