Items You Need For Hiking With Your Dog
Spring is in the air, which means hiking adventures are right around the corner. Trail outings are best when your dog or puppy goes too, so let me share with you how to make it an enjoyable experience.
Some people prefer leaving their dog home when they hike—I think they’re crazy! Unless your dog is an absolute couch potato, there’s no reason to leave your furry pal behind! Nature is as therapeutic and calming for them as it is for us. I couldn’t imagine trekking a mountain trail without my Karelian Bear Dog, Kintla. She only stays home when I hike where dogs are prohibited. Sometimes this is due to migrating game animals, and dogs are kept out so they don’t disturb the migration. As you can imagine, I don’t hike those trails very often.
My dog is my best hiking companion because she provides a level of protection. Kintla would absolutely destroy anything or anyone who tried to harm me. I’ve seen her in fight mode, and she fights like a wild, primal wolf. Do not rush out and purchase a dog for protection, though, because they require a lot of time and maintenance. If you can’t make that commitment, then seek other means of hiking protection, like Bear Spray. I have multiple layers of protection when I hike, with Kintla being my first defense.
Safety for your dog on the trail is your responsibility. You must know the location of your dog at all times and maintain their safety. Never lead them into a dangerous situation, for example, a narrow trail with overhangs where they might fall off. Also avoid any posted bear-frequented areas. Our run-ins with bears are low probability, but I don’t increase the odds. Your dog should be completely obedient off-leash, so when you call “Come,” they come! Read more about training your dog to be off-leash here. “Stop” is another useful command to halt your dog at any moment. Kintla would not be off-leash if she did not respond to the “come” command. Of course, I occasionally give her gentle reminders with her Dogtra 1900S training collar but she is responsive to me because I work with her daily.
Here are the must-have items for hiking with your dog:
1) Training collar
You need a training collar to properly communicate with your dog. The training collar market is saturated with options; choose what best fits your hiking adventures and needs. I personally use a Dogtra 1900S. It ranges up to 3/4 of a mile and comes equipped with a vibrate, nick, and continuous shock settings. I like the range on this collar as Kintla ventures off away from me on the trails, and it would be devastating if she slipped out of range of my voice AND the collar transmitter. Another great option is GPS. If you are concerned about your dog running off to chase deer or other animals, the Garmin Alpha 200i offers GPS tracking. For a more budget friendly solution, the NVK dog training collar features a range of about 1/2 mile with many training options. The collar doesn’t seem as sturdy as the Dogtra or Garmin because that kind of buckle can break easily, but with constant supervision it’s a great product!
2) Collapsible pet bowls
Keeping your dog hydrated on your hike is important. They can get dehydrated just like humans, especially on hot days. You will need to pack-in water for your dog if there is no accessible water nearby. I use these portable dog-bowls for Kintla while hiking in the back country. I’ve used them for more than a year, and they work great! I have had no problems with them, and I love how light and easy they are to pack. If you take longer treks, pack food for your dog as well.
3) Leash and collar
Always keep a collar with identification on your dog at all times, even if they wear a training collar! If the training collar fails and they wander off, how will they get home with no identifying tags? I always have Kintla wear her martingale collar with her identifying tags as well as her training collar. Also carry a strong dog leash. You may want to leash your dog when you see wildlife and your dog needs restraint, or while in unknown territory, or when a strange dog passes by. The leash is our best communication and training tool while on the trail!
4) Dog carrier
Your dog may get dirty while hiking, so use a dog carrier to help keep the car clean! If you drive a truck, don’t let them ride in the bed without proper safety restraints. You can read more about how to safely transport your pet here. I use this waterproof seat cover for dogs and it keeps the back of my car clean. Of course Kintla’s hairs still find their way around the vehicle, but this seat cover helps me keep an upper hand. My seats have been saved many times from muddy paws and other debris Kintla carries into the car.
5) An emergency carrier
Have you considered what you would do if your pet was injured on the trail? If they are heavy, to haul them out would be difficult. Don’t be caught miles deep in the woods with your dog unable to move on their own. I’d suggest an emergency dog-carrying harness like the Fido Pro. It’s light and won’t weigh down your pack like other pet emergency supplies.
All of these pet hiking supplies will make your outing more enjoyable and less stressful. I hike several times a week with my dog, and I have found that these are the most important items to bring along. Happy hiking!