Dog hikers say that the field trips can have a profound effect on dogs’ behavior, particularly those confined by cramped apartments.
“For city dogs who live in this very controlled, sterile environment, there’s a lot of doggy impulses they have, but can never exhibit,” said Jennifer Wheeler, 36, an owner of NYC Doggies in Greenwich Village, which began offering hikes in 2011. “It’s good physically, but it’s even better psychologically for them to be off leash in nature, having a sensory experience. Not only do they transform on the hikes, but they become better adjusted to city life.”
Think of it as the canine equivalent of self-care.
Evelyn Lasry, 55, who owns Two Palms, a printmaking studio and gallery in SoHo, has certainly noticed a change in her 6-year-old yellow Labrador, Augustus. Six months ago, she enrolled him in twice-weekly hikes with Kristi’s Kanines, a hiking service that caters mostly to Upper East Side pooches. The physical and behavioral changes, she said, have been remarkable.
“He’s so much more fit. He has that sexy waist now,” Ms. Lasry said. “When he gets home, he comes running in with a smile on his face and running around in circles.”
Dog hiking services regularly post social media photos and videos mid-hike, so owners can live vicariously through their pets’ adventures.
“I’m a writer, so I’m always sitting at my desk,” said Julie Salamon, 65, a journalist and the author of “Wendy and the Lost Boys.” Her late shepherd mix, Maggie, hiked with NYC Doggies. “Periodically, I’d get a little notification from Facebook that there was a video posted, so while Maggie was out on the hike, I could watch her on the video.”