How I Train My Dog for Long-Distance Hiking

By Effie Drew, special to VetriScience

I didn’t suddenly decide that my dog would hike 30 miles per day on some of America’s most grueling trails. Though I wish it were that easy, there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes to prepare a dog to perform athletically on long-distance hikes.

Since there’s no possible way to exercise 10-12 hours a day while working full-time, I train Luna for endurance in fragments. During the off season, we prepare by doing 20-30 miles per week of hiking, running, and biking off leash. We also fit in sprinting exercises like fetch and Frisbee twice a day to mimic the shorter recovery time on the trails. It’s hard work to say the least.

I try to practice focus, patience and behavior with her every day. Luna and I do a lot of work in highly-stimulating situations to promote good behavior and reward adaptability like playing with children or in public spaces.

It’s also essential to dial in a strong nutrition routine with high calorie foods, fats and oils, lean proteins, and supplementing where necessary. It’s taken me years of hiking to pin down exactly what works, but after Luna’s strong performance on the Continental Divide Trail last fall, I’m confident we have an amazing routine.

I always worry that the climbing, running and jumping is taking a toll on Luna’s body. I never want to stop letting her do the things she loves, so I take great care of her health.

Part of her health regimen is focused on joint care, including cross-training with sprints, swimming, stretching and taking VetriScience supplements daily. While on the trail, she takes a strong dose of Glycoflex® Plus to help improve recovery time and manage joint inflammation. On Luna’s first full hike using Glycoflex® Plus, I noticed a huge difference in her quickness, agility, and recovery.

She also takes Probiotic Everyday to promote a healthy gut flora and strong immune system since Luna frequently drinks out of streams and lakes as we hike during our hikes. Glycoflex Plus® and Probiotic Everyday give me a piece of mind that I’m not taking any shortcuts to optimal health so that Luna can be fit and active late into her life.

We’ve got a lot more miles left in us, and some fun adventures planned for 2018 but it all starts with training, recovery and proper nutrition.