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Hiking with dogs in New Zealand

If you love spending time in nature but hate leaving your best furry friend behind, you’ve come to the right place. Luckily for us kiwis, we have a beautiful country to explore, and what better way to do that than by hiking with your dog. While many places aren’t dog friendly, this blog is aimed to help you and your canine pal find useful resources, tips and information about get out together on a hike.

Don’t have your own dog? Join Share My Pet and find a furry friend to head out on an adventures with.

Let’s take a look at how to get started.

The most important thing to consider when planning a pawsome outdoor adventure is finding dog-friendly tracks. Right across New Zealand, there are walks that vary in length that are safe and dogs are permitted to join. These range from half day hikes to overnight missions and multi-day adventures.

Dave and his fur babies love getting out on multi day hikes

Before you head off on any hike with your furry kids, always check the DOC sites. Alerts, poison drops, and specific regulations for that area will be posted and kept up to date.

Planning your hike: useful resources

If you already know about the rules and permits and are simply looking for a few ideas for dog-friendly walks, you can check out the following resources.

  • And the dog came too. This website provides a listing of dog-friendly hikes in New Zealand. Furthermore, it includes a summary of the distance covered, restraints and terrain. Information is broken up into the North and South Island, with subcategories for various regions.
  • Alltrails. This website has a filter that allows you to search for dog-friendly walks. A short summary of the walk is given, along with reviews from the public. The length of walk and other useful features such as maps to download.
  • Plan my walk app. New on the scene, this app allows you to search for dog friendly walks across NZ. It has useful information such as distance walk covers, grade of difficulty, currents alerts and weather forecasts. You will need to know the name of the walk you are planning for the data to come up.
  • Hiking with dogs FB group. This Facebook group has over 12k members and is a fabulous open forum to ask for advice, add suggestions and enjoy photos of canines out on adventures. A great space to ask questions and seek local insider tips on walks. Discussions about gear and other pup related topics are welcome.

Safety Considerations for Hiking with Your Dog

Heading off with your best bud is exciting and fun, but there are some very important safety points to consider. You know your pet best. Are they fit enough for the hike you are planning? Is your pet in excellent health and a good age to bring along?

It’s important to keep up to date with current information. Weather conditions, poison drops or alerts need to be checked when taking your dogs into the wilderness. Again, this is where the DOC website plays a vital role.

Dogs are particularly susceptible to some of the toxic baits used for pest control. So, if there is an alert about a pest control operation, it’s best to leave your dogs at home or go elsewhere.

Track conditions and road access information is also important to check before you head off on adventures.

Another point to consider is your dog’s safety in the car on the way to your hiking destination. Keep your furry friend safe when getting to and from your adventure by either buckling them in with a dog safety belt or a crate.

Taking care with young dogs

Young dogs under the age of 12-15 months are still growing, and strenuous exercise can pose a risk of injuries. Damage to the growth plate can result in lifelong issues and pain for your dog. So, make sure your dog is an appropriate age to take them on the hike you’re considering.

The general rule for young dogs is 5 minutes of walking per month of age up to twice a day. For example, a 4-month-old puppy could walk up to 20 minutes twice a day. Being patient and building up to big adventures together is well worth the wait. When introduced properly and at the right age, hiking can be a fun activity for you and your dog, and you’ll have many years of exploring ahead of you.

For more information specific to younger dogs and puppies, please sniff out these links:

Pet First Aid

The saying “hope for the best, plan for the worst” comes to mind when you head off into the wilderness with your best furry mate. Be organised and have first aid kit packed – it could save your pets life.

Another great idea would be to complete a one-day pet first aid course. Having some basic knowledge about what to do in an emergency could turn you into your pets hero. One day pet first aid courses are held nationwide with kiwi company PetfatNZ. To read more about them please click here.

We recommend purchasing a ready-made pet first aid kit from kiwi company Petfat. Another great product – especially tailored to outdoor adventures – is a hiking and tramping first aid kit from FurtherFaster.

First Aid Kit Essentials

Here are some essential items you should include in your pet first aid kit for hiking with dogs:

  • Bandage material
  • Thermometer
  • Blanket
  • Basket muzzle, to allow panting and heat loss
  • Phone number of vets and emergency contact
  • Pressure bandages
  • Scissors
  • Disposable gloves
  • Bandaging kit with sterile wound dressings, padding and cohesive bandages
  • Instant ice pack
  • Sterile saline solution-wash out cuts and particulates from the eyes.
  • Diluted iodine– to clean and disinfect wounds
  • Adhesive tape
  • Torch
  • Tweezers

It’s a good idea to look for overlap between dogs and humans so you don’t need to carry unnecessary double-ups. For example, first aid items that are useful for both dogs and humans include bandages, tweezers, saline solution, scissors, disposable gloves, soft padding, cotton wool swabs, instant ice pack, and adhesive tape, to name a few.

Have a chat with your vet about a suitable pain killer and antihistamine to add to your first aid kit. Your vet will calculate a safe dose according to your dogs weight and condition.

To read more information about pet first aid when hiking, check out these helpful resources:

It’s important to pack a lead, portable food and water bowl and enough high quality food to keep your four legged buddy going. Love snacks? So does your fur friend! Both lightweight and high in nutrients and energy are N.Z made products from K9Natural and Gourmate Pet Treat and Co. Packed with natural protein and freeze dried to lock in nutrition and taste. These treats are super lightweight which makes them perfect for back country adventures, Both companies are also 100% kiwi owned, sourced and operated.

Freeze dried for optimum taste and super lightweight- your dog will love these treats

Rules to Consider when Hiking with Dogs

Hitting the trails with pooch by your side is wonderful. But there are certain rules we need to follow as pet owners. Unfortunately disregarding these rules by a few could ruin it for everyone.

The main thing to consider when taking your dog out hiking is looking at the dog access rules and seeing if you need a dog permit.

The Department of Conservation specifies three types of dog access on public conservation land. These are:

  • Open dog areas – no permit required. In these types of areas, you can take your dog off or on a leash, depending on the site. Access may be limited in certain seasons or conservation periods – such as bird nesting seasons – so make sure to check the DOC website and local signage for current rules.
  • Controlled dog areas – permit required. You can take your dog hiking in controlled dog areas, but (for most dogs) you’ll need to get a permit from the nearest DOC office / visitor centre first. Permits can take up to five days to process, so make sure you apply well before your planned trip.
  • Controlled dog areas – no access. Unfortunately for our furry friends, many of New Zealand’s national parks, wildlife reserves and sanctuaries have a complete dog ban all year round. This includes the foreshore of controlled areas, and all DOC campgrounds and huts unless specified otherwise.  

If you ignore these rules, or breach the conditions of your permit, you can be fined or prosecuted. Worse yet, if your dog is found in a national park or controlled area without a permit, it may be seized and impounded or destroyed.

Check out the DOC website for a full description of where you can go and which rules apply.

Useful Gear for You and Your Dog

Preparation on any trip is essential, And the same rules apply when you bring your furry companion along. Make sure your best buddy will have a warm and comfortable sleep. Enough food to keep their energy up is a must and the right gear will make the all im-pawtant difference.

Furtherfaster have carved out a name for themselves as being NZ’s place to go for all things adventure pooch. The team are all avid outdoor enthusiasts who spend their free time hiking, climbing, rafting and anything else outdoorsy. Store manager Badger is a loveable four legged rouge who test runs the gear and gives it his sniff of approval. You can check out their range of pawsome hiking gear – for dogs and humans alike – here.

Below are a few essential items (and nice to have extras) that we recommend you take along when hiking with your dog:

Badger the adventure hound from the team @furtherfasternz

Coats

Your furry friend can get cold and wet during walks. Why not keep them warm and snug? There is a huge range available online and in shops. Make sure you try it on your pet before you go.

Bed

Cold air and moisture seeps up from the ground. Just like we wouldn’t want to sleep on the surface of the ground, your pet will feel the cold too. If sharing your sleeping bag with your furry mate is not an option, pack in a mat or ground cover and a coat for them. Cut up squares of foam are light weight and do the trick. A warm furry body next to you is a bonus for you both, so why not snuggle up together.

Harness

Packing a lead is a must and many people prefer using a harness for added control and comfort. Before you go on a hike be sure to break all gear in.

Boots

Useful to protect your furry friends paws form rough terrain, ice, snow and scree. There are many different options out there.

Just like we wouldn’t try to break in a new pair of boots on a 2-day hike it is advised to get rover accustomed to the booties before hitting the trails. Pro insider tip from avid hiker and dog lover Alastair is to use the inner tubing of mountain bike to protect your dogs toes from snow and scree.

Ruffwear

Ruffwear is an American brand dedicated to building sturdy and lasting outdoor gear for dogs. They have everything from harnesses, to leashes, collars, life jackets, boots, packs, bowls, beds, safety gear, and much more. Ruffwear gear is very popular in New Zealand with active dog owners. Their products stand the test for both durability and comfort in New Zealand’s climate and outdoor conditions.

Adventure dogs heading out in @ruffwear

Don’t have your own pooch to hit the trails with?

Share My Pet can help! Perfect for anyone who is seeking canine (or other family pet) companionship and love on part time basis.

Pet sharing gives animal lovers the opportunity to meet with local pets and spend quality time with them. Take your pick-desire a stroll along the beach with a dog? Maybe an active run in the hills is more your thing. Simply having the company of a furry snuggle buddy to cosy up on the couch with is also an option.

Share My pet is a community of pet owners and animal lovers who all want the same thing – to enrich the lives of pets.

By joining your local pet sharing community you have an amazing opportunity to meet like minded people. Make new friends (both 2 and 4 legged) and feel connected to the world around you.

Success story- Alastair and Koru

Adventure dog Koru enjoys weekend hikes with his part time buddy Alastair from Share My Pet

Pet sharing allows people who currently can’t or don’t have a pet to be able to spend quality time with one. Recently we spoke with Alastair, a huge dog lover and member of Share My Pet. He joined the pet sharing community over a year ago. He has found the service to be useful for a variety of reasons and needs.

Alastair has always had dogs and greatly enjoys their company. With work being demanding, heading into natures own has always been Alastair’s way to disconnect, and reconnect to nature.

Pet sharing has been excellent for both his mental and physical health. Through Share My Pet, Alastair has connected with a tribe of people and pets who share his passion for dogs and the outdoors.

Part-time furry friendships via pet sharing

Having recently gone through some life changes, Alastair found himself with a dog-shaped hole in his heart. He reached out to Share My Pet. Through the service, he connected with a lovely dog called Koru. Together they hit the back trails, go exploring and re-tank in nature. Alastair loves the unbridled enthusiasm his 4 legged buddy brings to every outing. Hiking with a furry pal adds that extra element of adventure and makes for a memorable trip.

Nature, tranquillity and your best furry friend- bliss!

“Dogs are the ultimate companion! Even in the worst conditions their sense of wunderlust and enthusiasm is infectious.”

Alastair has loved seeing Koru growing in confidence on their outings. Furthermore Koru’s personality and stature increases when he is out in the wilderness. Alastair has noticed this happens to all dogs that he has spent time with hiking.

‘Out in their natural element the companionship and bond you have with your 4 legged companion is second to none’.

At night time his adventure hound, tired and relaxed from a great day of exploring turns into a furry hot water bottle- what a bonus!

Alastair and furry buddy Koru met via the pet sharing website Share My Pet

“Through Share My Pet I have meet a wonderful furry companion called Koru. He is my ultimate hiking companion and his unbridled enthusiasm makes our adventures all the more memorable.  Pet sharing is the perfect solution for me to get out into nature with a dog.” – Alastair, Nelson

Enter our Adventure Dog Giveaway via our Facebook or Instagram pages!

We are always ready and available to help you find a purrfect match.

Woofs & Wags

Lili & Dave 
Top Dogs 

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