Well since I have ran into you hiking and at the dog park it seem appropriate that I respond..lol..yes yes yes on making dog a hiking dog!
Injuries and money spent from dog parks injuries this year seven staples, 11 stitches and $1,100.00 dollars. Injuries from hiking this year-ZERO..
hiking much better for dogs than dog parks!
Just take it easy with them and slowly get them into shape, all people and all dogs are different, you probably have a good mix for hiking..from the breed type..Although, having a beagle's nose can be a dog's worst enemy, as they smell everything and tend to follow scents with head down for miles until they are like, shoot I am lost! But I am sure you got that under control. I just commented in one of my trip-logs, Cup my oldest is nine years old and she just put in a 1200 mile year in 2013, including all summer and even supes in July and Aug. Although, that takes some planning though, super early start times (more snakes
) a few hikes of starting with a legit three gallons of water and out of sun in shade by water N.L.T. noon..
I am much more careful now, as my own stupidity and stubbornness almost led to me losing Cup about two summers ago..off-trail, 100s nasty black scree rock..I had to start from scratch with her,almost killed my best friend
.. One thing that has literally turned back the clock for her is wearing shoes, believe it or not, she will literally ask for them on a hot day, or with rough terrain, I swear once she puts them on, she is a new dog..but I only use them when I feel absolute necessary, because I want to maintain her tough paws...she wore those shoes across Peter's Mesa off-trail in low 100s no problem, not possible otherwise, her paws and maybe breed just not tough enough for those conditions. Blanco on the other hand, being from Afghanistan has NO limitations I swear...he carries up to four days worth of dry and canned food, and I have never had to hold him back from a summer hike, Cup doesn't go anymore when its super hot. But if the pup develops strong pads from start and the breed is hearty, you can probably get away with no shoes, Blanco has never worn and I dont think he will ever need...
Start early with discipline though, remember if your dog does not listen well at home, that could spell disaster 5000 feet up on a trail in wilderness, or boudlering down a creek, scrambling up and down cliffs, etc..this is when you need unwavering obedience and it starts at home and early. I am fortunate Cup will stop on a dead run at a firm "leave it" or "thats enough" Blanco is still about 60 -40
But hey if you want some role models lets take them out sometime, in a few months I bet your guy will be ready for some easy 5-7 mile out and back over-night hikes with cooler temps and plenty water...It helps, vet told me its good to have older dogs with young ones, "older dogs teach young dogs manners or something like that she said." I believe there is some truth to that if dog is with two other dogs that are staying with people he has no desire to leave pack and run-away when off leash, for example...
Finally, you just occasionally have to suck up your own pride and goals and listen to dogs, for example, my weekend hike stopped short of summit, Cup was beat...Bob P stated it well when talking to a lady on forum about taking dog on AZ trail, something to extent of are you prepared to stop trip for sake of dog's safety, even if it means giving up on a big hike..Dogs are perfect companions, but it will certainly add another wrinkle to most of your planning from here on out..
Does your girlfriend's dog still hate Blanco?lol