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Hiking with our dog is one of our favorite weekend activities. We’ve all become more active since Princess came into our lives and it’s only February.
After getting several hikes under our belts, we’ve come up with some must-have gear for hiking with your dog.
A solid leash
A good leash makes all of the difference when hiking. Retractable leashes get heavy and uncomfortable several miles into a hike. Remember, the majority of parks require dogs to be leashed at all times and leashes be under 6ft in length. A well-made rope leash with a slightly padded grip will be much more comfortable for the human and pup. We’re able to adjust her leash length when we get to narrow or busier areas by grabbing on the rope. Tying knots in a climbing rope also gives you an extra grip when shortening the leash. Also, be sure your leash is reflective as well, just in case you end up hiking past sunset.
We prefer a harness over a collar when hiking. Harnesses offer extra support when going up steeper climbs. It also prevents any injury to the neck if your dog happens to get super excited and tries to run after an animal they spot along the trail. Many harness also double as hiking packs (more on those below in our wishlist section), so your pup can help carry their share of the load. Our current favorite is the Ruffwear Front Range All-Day Adventure Harness.
Water and water dish
Never rely on sources of water along a trail. Always, always, ALWAYS bring water and a water dish for your dog. Collapsable silicone bowls are available, but we like the foldable cloth bowls. This Ruffwear bowl is perfect for hiking. It’s lightweight, dries quickly, and doesn’t take up much room in a small pack pocket. We also bring along our LifeStraw filter, just in case we run our of bottled water. Dogs are susceptible to bacteria found in fresh water, too. Cleaning up diarrhea on the trail doesn’t sound like much fun at all.
First Aid Kit
Most of the contents of our first aid kit will work in case of emergency for a dog. Gauze, tweezers, bandages, and antiseptic are all included in our first aid kit. You can purchase a pet first aid kit, but they’re unnecessary if you have a stocked first aid kit for yourself. Add in styptic powder for torn nails and Benadryl in case of an allergic reaction (check with your vet for correct dosage and use information) and you’re good to go.
Kibble and Snacks
A typical food pack for a day hike for our pup includes a serving and a half of kibble, frozen green beans, apples, and jerky-style snacks. It seems like a lot, but they’re putting out extra effort on the hike and we never want to run out of food in case the hike goes longer than planned. We never bring anything new on hikes. If she hasn’t had the snack before, she’s not getting in on a hike. The green beans stay nice and cool and, along with the apples, are a refreshing treat on a hot day. The jerky-style snacks pack in more protein.
Waste removal bags
If you bring it in, you bring it out. Dog waste is no exception. Check the rules for each park you visit. Some may let you bury waste a certain number of feet off-trail (usually around 400-500), but many require you to pick up and dispose of the waste outside of the park. We attach one of these handy dispensers to our backpack and off we go.
On our wishlist
Our year of hiking with our dog has just begun, so we’re still gathering the gear we’ll need for longer hikes and more strenuous climbs. Just like humans, dogs need to build up their physical activity over time. We’re not rushing her up one of the High Peaks just yet, but when we do, we want to be ready.
Boots: Boots are essential for rockier climbs, winter weather, and they can be helpful if your pup cuts their pad or hurts a nail during a hike. The boot will provide much-needed cushion and protection until you’re back in your car or at camp for the evening. Be sure to let your dog have a few trial runs with the boots at home.
Life jacket: (Not all dogs can swim well. Life jackets for pets are not approved by the USCG, so reading reviews and doing research is your best bet when it comes to making this purchase. We will not be skimping for our pup. She’s not a huge fan of the water and pointers are not bred to be swimmers.)
Back pack: a healthy dog can carry up to 25% of its weight. One of these fun dog packs will hold more than enough supplies for a day on the trails. And when we’re hiking with kids, we’ll take all of the help we can get when it comes to making our packs lighter.
Hiking with your pet is an amazing experience. It takes some planning, and some practice, but it’s totally worth it. I can not wait to share all of our hiking and camping adventures with you this spring and summer.