Gear for Hiking with a Dog

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Do you love going on hikes with your pet? Have you thought about the special kinds of gear you’ll need for hiking with a dog?

You wouldn’t contemplate hiking without equipment that will keep you safe and comfortable as a well-prepared hiker. If you’re not sure what to pack, check out our list of the 10 Hiking Essentials. When taking your dog on treks, make sure to check out our list below for the unique equipment your dog need.

Before heading out with your dog, read Canine Field Medicine: First Aid for Your Active Dog by Sid Gustafson, DVM, and Hiking with Dogs: Becoming a Wilderness-Wise Dog Owner by Linda B. Mullally, both published by FalconGuides.

Choosing a dog for the trail, bonding, obedience, training your dog, essential gear, wildlife conflicts, medical crises, trail etiquette, accident avoidance, dog CPR, and other themes are covered in these publications.

Even seasoned dog owners can find useful information and guidance in these books. The following list of gear for hiking with your dog is adapted with some modifications from a chapter on Day Hike Gear in Linda Mullally’s book, and the information is reprinted here with permission from FalconGuides.

Gear at a Glance:

  1. Collar or Harness
  2. Leash
  3. Identification Tag or Microchip
  4. Water
  5. Food
  6. Collapsible Bowl
  7. Plastic Bags or Small Spade
  8. Canine First Aid Kit
  9. Reflective clothing, collars, leashes, or small lights

Collar or harness is required. A collar or harness will help to identify your dog as a pet, particularly if it is made of a colorful material that can be seen from a distance. Ensure that the collar or harness is loose enough that you can easily slip your finger underneath, but don’t have it loose enough that it could slip off. Never use a choke collar on your dog since it might get trapped on a low branch and strangle him.

Leash. The leash must be strong enough to endure the trail’s hardships. Both leather and nylon work nicely. If you use an expandable leash to give your dog some additional freedom of movement, keep the leash short enough to retain good control.

Microchip and/or identification tag. A microchip can be easily inserted by your veterinarian and is a great way to ensure that you will be reunited with your dog if she should get separated from you. Tattoos put on the inside thigh of a rear leg may accomplish the same thing. Register your dog’s microchip or tattoo with an online registration service, such as the American Kennel Club’s, and keep your online contact information up to date. It is also useful to have an indentification tag engraved with your dog’s name and your phone number, since anyone who might find your dog could read the information without having a special microchip scanner. A pet retailer might provide plastic or metal identification tags. Attach the tag using a strong loop ring, rather than a “S” hook.

Water. Carry at least 8 ounces of water each hour of trekking for each dog. When you’re hiking in hot weather, fill plastic water bottles 3/4 full and place them in the freezer the night before your outing; the ice will melt as you hike, providing a source of cool water for your dog. Allowing your dog to drink standing water from puddles and ponds is not recommended since germs and parasites may be present and make your dog unwell.

Food. Carry nutritious snacks for your dog and offer them regularly to keep your dog’s energy level high. To avoid the pain of exercising on an empty stomach, give your dog smaller quantities more often.

Bowl that collapses. Giving your dog food and water will be much easier with a collapsible dish. These lightweight nylon bowls often feature a loop which enables you to attach the bowl to your pack or the dog’s leash, making it easy to use it without having to dig through your other belongings.

Plastic bags or a little spade would suffice. These things will help you efficiently dispose of your dog’s feces. Plastic bags can be used to pack the waste out with you, and you can attach them to the outside of your pack with a carabiner so that you don’t have to stash them inside. An alternate method is to bury your dog’s feces using a little plastic shovel.

First-aid kit for dogs. Carry some basic materials in your personal first aid bag or a dog first aid pack to assist you cope with injuries that your dog may receive on the path. A few of the items to take would include: hydrogen peroxide to disinfect cuts, scissors with rounded tips to trim hair around wounds, bandages and gauze pads, tweezers to remove foreign objects in a wound, and a small sock or bootie to protect a wounded foot.

Reflective jacket, collar, leash, or tiny light attached to collar. Reflective clothing and accessories or a light will help to protect your dog during road crossings at night.

Booties, bandanas, canine flotation devices, and insulating coats are examples of clothing. Keep these supplies on hand to prepare for inclement weather and special events. Check the weather where you’re going to see what sort of attire your dog could need. Booties help keep your dog’s paws safe on snowy or rough trails. A bandana or neck gaiter can help your dog be identified as a pet and may also be used as a bandage if necessary. A canine flotation device is essential for any boating outings, and an insulating jacket will keep short-haired dogs warm on winter treks.

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