During the pandemic, interest in the great outdoors spiked. Millions of people turned their attention to their local parks as well as larger national parks, looking for a way to get outside and stay safe in the process. Many of those people gained an interest in hiking and hit the trail.
Hiking is a fantastic way to spend your time outdoors, and hiking with your four-legged friend can be a rewarding experience for both you and them! Hiking is one of the most enriching activities a dog can do, but to do it properly, you’ll need the right gear. Today we’re doing a deep dive on hiking gear that every dog needs when racking up miles with their owner!
A Brief Explanation About Trail Etiquette
When you’re out hiking with your canine companion, it’s important to remember your trail etiquette and to abide by it. Hiking trails, much like public parks and sidewalks, have a set of rules applied to them that should be followed, especially when hiking with your pup.
1. Be Courteous
When with your pup on the trail, it’s important to remember that not everyone shares the same love for dogs that you may. In fact, some people may have a fear of dogs. When passing other hikers, be sure to alert them if you’re approaching from the rear. If another hiker is approaching you, it’s best to have your pooch sit and wait while they pass. That keeps most people happy.
2. Follow Leash Laws
While there may be some nature preserves or parks that allow for your dog to be off-leash, not all will, and it is important to pay attention to the rules regarding leashes when hiking. If your four-legged friend is supposed to stay on leash, chances are it’s for their safety. Keep your pup leashed when you’re supposed to.
3. Pick Up After Your Pup
There are many large impacts that your pooch’s poop can have on the environment. In particular, wildlife exposed to dog poop can pick up parasites or diseases that are present in the poop, affecting an entire population of wild animals. Plus, it’s a considerate thing to do. Bring some eco-friendly poop bags and pick up after your pup because no one wants to step in that.
Hiking Gear Your Dog Should Have
When you go out and hike with your pooch, there are a handful of items that you should have with you at all times, as well as some gear that your pooch can wear. Check out what your dog needs when they’re out on the trail with you.
A Sturdy Harness
A harness is one of the most important items that should be part of your four-legged friend’s gear. Harnesses are a good way of making sure that your pooch stays on the leash securely. No one wants their pooch to end up off-leash in the middle of the woods. A good harness can help with that.
When picking a harness, look for the following features:
- A snug fit
- Strong hardware, preferably metal leach attachments
- Lightweight material that’s easily cleaned
A Strong Leash
When you’ve got your pup on their leash while hiking, you want a leash that won’t snap. The material it’s made of needs to be durable and hopefully easily cleaned. Don’t use a retractable leash; there are too many things that can go wrong if they pull too hard or pull unexpectedly. A leash in a fixed length with good hardware and handheld is ideal.
Accidents happen, and sometimes our dogs get away from us. With a good harness and leash, we can prevent pups that are escape artists to the best of our abilities. Still, just in case, your four-legged friend should always be equipped with a form of identification, like a metal tag. A microchip is good, but if your dog runs off, it’s easier for a good Samaritan to call the number on the tag than bring the dog to a vet for a microchip scan. Make sure your dog has both, just to be safe.
Collapsible Water and Food Bowls
Staying hydrated is an important part of any outdoor activity, and your dog will need water breaks throughout your hikes together. Collapsible water bowls made from silicone are available on the market, and they’re a great piece of gear to bring on any hike. They pack flat and are the perfect combination of lightweight and durable. Don’t forget to pack a second bowl to use as a food bowl, too, and a little bag of your pup’s food.
When we’re outside, and our body wants to cool off, we sweat. It’s part of any strenuous activity, and it prevents us from overheating. Dogs are different, though, as they can’t sweat. Instead, we can pack a cooling vest for them for those days that are just extraordinarily hot.
These vests are really neat, and they allow your dog to stay cool with just a bit of water applied to the vest. The material that the vest is made from allows water to evaporate quickly from it, cooling your pooch. Get one for your pup; they’ll thank you for it.
If you plan on taking your canine companion for any early morning or late evening hikes, getting them a small light is a great idea. These lights attach to their harness and help you keep an eye on them in the event that they do get off-leash. It’s also a nice way to give them some light on the ground in front of them if the light is bright enough.
Dogs, just like people, have sensitive eyes. We wear sunglasses to keep the sun out of our eyes, and in some cases, use goggles to protect them from debris. When a pup is on the trail, it’s likely that they’ll need protection from the sun, as well as any dirt or debris kicked up out there. If you’ve got an active pup that likes to get grimey, grab a set of doggie goggles for them. It keeps their eyes safe when out in the woods.
Dog Poop Bags
Cleaning up after your dog, as discussed previously, is incredibly important. Keep dog poop bags with you while on the trail to make packing poop out of the woods an easier affair. To make sure you have easy access to them, you can even keep a bag holder on your leash! It’s easy to clean up after your dog on the trail.
Hit the Trail!
Hiking with your dog is a rewarding experience for both you and your four-legged friend. It’s an opportunity for bonding, as well as letting your dog get exercise, both physical and mental. Getting your dog outside and into nature is incredibly enriching for them. It allows them to tap into some of their more primitive instincts and exposes them to so many new smells and experiences.
When heading out with your pup, remember to follow trail etiquette and be considerate of others on the trail. Also, always pack out your dog poop! It keeps the ecosystem healthy, allowing everyone to enjoy nature for years to come.
Grab your leash and your harness and hit the trail with your four-legged friend! You’ll both have a great time.
Hiking With Your Dog: Tips For Hitting The Trail In A Safe And Fun Way | American Kennel Club
Trail Etiquette and Safety Tips for Hiking With Your Dog | Pet MD
The importance of exercise for dogs | Animal Wellness Magazine