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Turkish Akbash dog weighing 35kg stretchered down Ben Nevis after refusing to walk any further

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Many dogs love a mountain hike with their owners and it is not uncommon for people in the UK to take their pooches with them on a walk up a peak.

However, mountaineering groups have warned owners are always responsible for their dogs’ wellbeing and behaviour while hiking.

There is a risk your pooch could frighten, chase or even attack mountain wildlife, meaning you must keep an eye on their whereabouts at all times.

There are also certain breeds better suited to mountain climbing than others. 

Medium sized dogs such as collies, spaniels or Labradors are typically more athletic and better equipped to run around all day in the hills. 

Of course, most breeds can spend a day happily roaming in the mountains if they have been adequately prepared by their owners.

People who want to take their smaller or larger breed dogs mountain climbing should consult with their vet or a qualified dog trainer on how best to introduce their pooch to the activity.

Owners should consider the appropriate age to start training their dog as, in some breeds, their bones, joints and soft tissues are developing rapidly. 

It is important not to over-exercise young pups during this period to prevent long-term skeletal damage.

In the same way a human would train to climb a mountain, owners should consider how they will train their dogs to be able to cope with the strenuous activity.

Starting off with short days, you should acclimatise your pooch to the activity and allow them plenty of time (at least a day) to rest after a big climb, to let their body recover.

You must also toughen up their paws so they can cope with the rocky terrain.

To do this, build up time walking on pavements and paths, before exposing them in short bursts to rockier ground.

Although some owners opt for dog boots, many pooches find them uncomfortable and slippery.

Before taking your dog out on the mountains, you should make sure you have the right equipment. This includes:

  • A collar with a name tag and contact details
  • A whistle
  • A Harness
  • A light attached to their collar
  • Poo bags
  • A waterproof jacket
  • Towels to get them clean and dry

Source: Mountaineering Scotland

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