Happy New Year, Everyone!
Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season. We had a lovely time and started off 2020 with my baby girl’s birthday hike last week. As I do every year, I took a day off so we can celebrate Xena’s birthday doing what we love. This year my sister and my nephew dog Coco joined the birthday hike and two cousins had fun in the snow!
When you are choosing a hike for your puppy, you need to be mindful that puppies are still developing. A puppy’s paw pads are still developing and don’t have calluses yet to protect them. They will naturally build calluses via daily walks. And their joints and muscles are not fully developed yet to handle big hikes.
At 9 months old, Coco already weighs more than Xena and is taller than her. But he is still a puppy and we need to make sure we don’t push him hard. We took him out on a trail a month ago to check his endurance level. He did a 4-mile hike very well on a pretty easy dirt/rocky trail! He kept up with Xena without being tired and absolutely enjoyed being on the trail and meeting other people and dogs.
As I mentioned in my Essential Gear for Hiking with Dog post, here are some safety precautions you need to consider first when you are considering hiking with a pup regardless of their age:
- Your dog is in good health and is fit to hike with you.
- Your dog has passed obedience training and is friendly with other people and other dogs.
- Your dog has a sturdy collar with a name tag that has the current contact info.
I chose Vetter Mountain in the Angeles National Forest for Xena’s birthday because it’s only 4 miles roundtrip and we can stay on the fire road if needed. It was possible we might hike in the snow. I thought this lightly trafficked easy trail would make a nice introduction to the wilderness for Coco and be good for my sister to train him trail etiquettes.
The construction company that is hired to build the new fire lookout has already cleared snow in the pavement section of the fire road.
The last 1.3 miles to the fire lookout was still covered by at least 1-foot deep snow. Woohoo!
We kept Coco on a leash during the first half of the hike. After that, he understood we wanted him to stay on the trail near us when we hike. Xena was a good role model too.
The new fire lookout was coming along nicely.
Time for the birthday hat for this birthday girl and lots of treats!
Coco was showing off what a good puppy he is. I’d say he enjoyed the views as much as the hike itself. He will be a wonderful hiking partner to my sister and brother in law.
You can do this hike as a loop but with the 1-foot+ deep snow, I opted out from doing the loop especially when the single track wasn’t used at all since the last snowfall and I couldn’t make out the path.
The birthday girl had a blast and that’s all that matters!