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Our Top 5 Tips for Urban Hiking with Your Dog

Our Top 5 Tips for Urban Hiking with Your Dog

Although hiking in the wilderness is our top spot for enjoying a walk with our dogs, let's face it -- it's not always practical. We are fortunate enough to live in an area where it's easy to escape to the trails (hey Albuquerque!), but sometimes it's hard to find the time for a full hike.

We grew up in a family that walked places. We hiked on regional trails, and we also did plenty of "urban hiking" in Pittsburgh, where we are from. I have memories of trekking throughout Pittsburgh, finding streets that linked neighborhoods together, crossing bridges, and seeking out points of interest along the way. Although I'd grown up in the city, I remember being surprised by all of the small things I noticed on a walk that just aren't apparent if you travel by car. Architectural details, plants, hidden staircases, smells -- these are the things you can see more clearly and have the chance to explore when you walk.

It's easy to fall into a dog walking routine. Come home from work, grab the dog, walk around the block and in your own neighborhood, but neglect exploration and adventure and new experiences. I recall a dog trainer telling me that when a dog is able to get outside and sniff the surroundings, it's the equivalent of humans reading the news -- it's a compilation of the goings-on about the neighborhood and it feeds information to your dog that keeps them stimulated and engaged. I love that image!

Harvey enjoys a view of Albuquerque from the foothills of the Sandia Mountains

Here are our 5 top tips for a successful urban hiking adventure:

1. Outfit Yourself

You aren't going to be comfortable without the right gear, and being uncomfortable gives you excuses to cut your urban adventure short. Pick shoes you can explore in, wear a hat if it's sunny or cool, grab your sunglasses and water. If you're exploring a new area, consider bringing your phone to check the map, otherwise challenge yourself to leave your phone at home so you can be fully engaged in your surroundings and experience with your dog.

Pack a backpack or bag with whatever you'll need to feel comfortable - so you'll be able to get outside for an urban hike and be prepared for whatever comes your way!

2. Outfit Your Dog

Make sure your dog has the right gear to be comfortable, too. Beyond a leash, consider bringing doggy boots for extreme weather, water (or know of a source along the route), a water bowl, a jacket, and a waste bag dispenser, plus plenty of baggies. Bring along a favorite ball or toy too, in case you stumble across a new park to enjoy together.

3. Plan a Route

Consult local books and websites for walking routes that have architectural or cultural interest (I just picked up this book to get new ideas for Albuquerque urban walking routes!). Simply panning and zooming around on Google Maps is really helpful for discovering hidden parks and destinations that you might not know about otherwise. I recently discovered a park within a mile from me that I never knew existed, just by using Google Maps to virtually explore. You can also plan your route and destinations on Google Maps to get a sense of mileage, and you can save your routes for future use. Here's a quick tutorial to save and share your urban hiking routes. 

I am really excited to embark (get it??) on some of the walking routes I've discovered in the book Walking Albuquerque.

Piper's favorite park activity involves finding a high spot to perch on.


4. Add a Fun Pit Stop

To make your urban hike a treat, try adding in a fun stop that's enjoyable for you and your dog -- maybe stop by a pet friendly patio for a craft beer or cocktail (like Still Spirits or Marble Brewery in Albuquerque, grab a scoop at a pet-friendly ice cream shop (or paletas at Pop Fizz!). Or, plan your route to include a new dog park or a stop by a creek or river for your pup to cool off.

Harvey enjoys a good patio as much as the next dog.


5. Plan to Stray from Your Plan

Despite all of this talk about route planning - sometimes the best plan is no plan. At the very least, plan to be flexible. Though you can have a general idea of your route, usually the best experiences and adventures are spontaneous, which can only happen when you allow yourself to be open to making changes to your plan. I write more about the idea of keeping a mindset open to adventure in this previous blog post.


How about you? Do you have an urban hiking habit, too? What surprises have you uncovered? We would love to hear from you! Post about your urban adventures with your dog on Instagram with the hashtag #urbanhiking and tag us @bumblebeepetco !

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