Now that you're headed for your hiking adventure, there are some more things to think about while you're hiking with your dog. When you're out on the trail, you serve as an ambassador for everybody who enjoys hiking with dogs. Keep that in mind and you'll be sure to make a good impression.
Even if the particular area or park you've chosen doesn't require that you keep your dog on a leash while hiking, it's probably still a good idea. Not only will this keep your canine friend from being able to take off after animals, it'll also keep your dog from other potentially unpleasant encounters. Some people don't approve of dogs on a hiking trail, don't like them or are allergic to them. If your dog is leashed, you can keep it away from anyone you might pass on the trail. This includes other dogs, because you never know how either dog will react. Unless you're very confident that your dog will obey your commands no matter what it may encounter, leashing is best. Do your best to curb barking, too.
Be sure that when you're hiking with your dog, you keep to the trail. You should be keeping to the trail anyway -- that's why they're marked -- but that way, your dog will be safe. When people or even horses (you may encounter them depending on the trail) are coming the other way, give them a wide berth.
Remember those plastic bags in your kit? They're to scoop up your dog's feces when it needs to go. Leaving them on the ground is one sure way to ruin other hikers' enjoyment of the trail. If there aren't waste containers along the way, you'll need to have something to carry the poop with you until you can dispose of it. You can also use a spade or small shovel to bury it; just be sure it's well off the trail and away from any sources of water.
Now that you've got the basics down, let's take a close look at how you should protect your dog while hiking.