How to take your dog mountain walking
If you’re here reading this we’ll assume you love the outdoors, and for many sharing that love of the outdoors is done with our k9 pals. But what exactly does taking your dog mountain walking entail? You may already have a dog and are unsure of the rules on how to take your dog mountain walking, or maybe thinking of getting a dog to share your adventures out on the mountain for the first time. Hopefully we can shed some light on how to take your dog mountain walking.
For an expert point of view on how to take your dog mountain walking we recruited the help of Paul and Alfred. Paul is a keen walker and an avid promoter of the Lakes and the rest of Cumbria, but it’s Alfred who’s the star of the pair. Not only is he part of the #NotJustLakes team helping to support and promote all things Cumbria, he’s also a Ruffwear UK brand ambassadog! You can catch up with both on their dog mountain walking adventures via their twitter accounts, Paul @glocky9 and Alfred @glockyk9.
How to take your dog mountain walking – Expert Q & A
Q – Why take a dog?
A – It’s like taking your pal on adventures, but this pal will always keep up, doesn’t talk and rests when you want to rest. It’s the best of both worlds, you have the solitude of the mountains but get to share it with a friend.
Q – How to control your dog?
A – Alfred’s still young and still a giddy chicken on the fells. I keep him on a leash 50% of the time, he won’t think twice of standing on the edge of a rock face or cornice with hundreds of feet below him, I sometimes refer to him as “danger dog”.
Coming down crags is a different matter as he’s always at my heals taking a boot in his face every few steps.
Q – When should your dog be on a lead?
A – In any field with sheep or cattle, “sheepwatch UK” & “BBC countyfile” are currently driving a campaign to raise awareness & reduce dog attacks on sheep, please be aware that it’s legal for a farmer to shoot your dog if it’s worrying livestock.
Q – What should I do around sheep or cattle?
A – Keep your dog close & completely under control on a lead, move quickly and quietly around the animals, it’s time to forget the footpath. I’ve even climbed dry stone walls to avoid cows and their calves.
Q – Does a dog have automatic mountain fitness?
A – I wouldn’t take a new puppy up into the mountains, not unless your prepared to carry them up and down. Their bones and body are still developing and too much exercise can damage them, but they are soon up to speed. We can now do 8 hour wanders and Alfred’s still raring to go.
Q – Does a dog need gear like me?
A – When you start taking your dog into the mountains you quickly realise what you need and what you don’t. Two essential pieces of equipment Alfred uses are
- A waterproof / wind proof coat. (Ruffwear Aira Jacket)
- A harness (Ruffwear Webmaster harness). The harness is designed for hiking and scrambling with a lift handle that’s balanced so I can easily lift him from ledge to ledge. Before I started using this harness it was like wrestling a bag of snakes hundreds of feet up whilst clinging to a rock face.
Q – Can a dog come with me on a winter mountain walk?
A – Alfred loves the snow but his body weight doubles with all the ice that sticks to him. A few weeks back Alfred and I were descending Helvellyn and I had to literally bite the ice off his paws so he could walk, we came down with him inside my jacket.
Q – What mountain food and drink should I supply my dog?
A – Nothing special, a normal feed in the morning and I carry water for the both of us. Tradition is to cook sausages (dogs voice) after a wander for both of us!
How to take your dog mountain walking – The rules proper!
Taking your dog mountain walking may lead to problems, some harmless but some with far reaching results. Of course we want to encourage all to enjoy the outdoors, but there is a responsibility to adhere to the rules to ensure everyone’s enjoyment and safety.
So to fully appreciate how to take your dog mountain walking you’ll need to familiarise yourself with the rules, this means adhering to the countryside code in Wales and England, or in Scotland the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.
Countryside Code: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-countryside-code.
Scottish Outdoor Access Code: www.outdooraccess-scotland.com
Most of which is common sense, such as being vigilant near livestock and nesting areas, during breeding nesting and lambing seasons, near others enjoying the countryside. But it’s important to read up!
Good luck and enjoy taking your dog mountain walking.
A special thanks to Paul and Alfred for their expert opinion, and Ruffwear UK!