LIFESTYLE

Dog Hiking Gear: A Guide to Hiking with Your Dog

Dog gear for hiking
Emily Young
Written by Emily Young

If you love hiking and camping, then it is no wonder that you would like to take your best furry friend with you. Dogs are always excited to spend time with their masters, however, you are the one who should bear in mind their physical limits and prepare all the necessities beforehand. It is very important to know about the dog hiking gear and prepare it before you decide to go on an outdoor adventure that would lead into the wilderness.

Hiking with your dog also means that you can bond with each other and leave behind all the distractions from the virtual world, such as cell phones and the hustle of the city. It is also very healthy to spend time in the nature and your dog will love it. This article will provide you with the basic and essential steps that you should cover before actually going on the hiking trip. Some of them help you to understand the possible accidents and troubles, and the others tell you what you should bring in terms of clothes, accessorizes, food etc.

How to plan a trip

Before you decide on the area, first check whether there are any dog regulations, otherwise your pet may not be allowed to enter the national park, for example. There are places that do not allow animals, especially dogs, and that is why you must get to know the area and its regulations before going there.

The second thing that you must remember is that you must always maintain control of your dog, and that means that your dog should be properly trained. It is not a good idea to go hiking with a dog that does not answer his master’s call and ignore the commands. However, it is known that dogs are required to be on leash most of the times at the public places.

Dog on leash

You should also know that hiking is not for a dog that is still getting used to other people and animals. The dog should be not only properly trained but also calm and patient. There are also some areas and trails that do not require a leash, but you should pay attention that your dog knows his manners and that he is not afraid of wild animals, other dogs or strange noises and smells. Our guide on training your dog to hike without a leash, is a  popular piece that you must check out.

When a dog enters a new and wild area, he can go wild, especially for the first time. That is because he gets overwhelmed by the new smells and nature is basically calling him to explore more and more. You do not want him getting lost or wandering off in a forest. You must do a research on the area you plan to visit in order to keep your dog safe.

Food and shelter

You have probably heard multiple times that hydration is crucial for people, especially the ones who exercise a lot. Do not forget that it is the same for dogs. That means that you should prepare dog hiking packs that would feature a special hydration system that would keep your dog hydrated. These packs can also include food and dishes, and you can find the smaller and collapsible ones that do not take a lot of space.

It also depends on the size of your dog whether he can carry his food or not, but bear in mind that the food portion should be almost double of what you feed your dog on a daily basis. That is mostly due to the fact that the trip can be very exhausting and tiring and the dog needs more energy, just like you. Prepare the right amount of calories so your dog won’t starve.

Dog hiking packs

When it comes to the shelter and sleeping, that usually depends on the weather and how bad it can be. It also depends on your dog’s breed and his coat  – if it is short, then your dog will probably need more clothes and blankets in order to not get chilly during the cold nights or days. That means that besides bringing your own sleeping bag, you should bring one for your dog too. Having a doggy sleeping bag is important, as we’ve outlined in a previous article.

There are special dog beds that can be used for hiking, or you can bring along a kid bed if your dog is of small or medium size.  One more possibility is to share a tent or a big bed, but that is up to you to decide.

Clothes for your furry friend

Dog clothes represent the important thing when it comes to camping or hiking, especially if your dog has a short coat. In that case, a layer or two can preserve the temperature and save your doggie from getting sick in cold weather.

First of all, there are dog vests and jackets. If you plan on hiking during winter or through deep snow, then getting a jacket is crucial. A dog jacket of high quality can keep your dog’s belly and sides warm and also protect from the wet conditions. These jackets come in various colors and sizes, so you can choose one according to your dog’s needs, size, etc.

However, if you plan on hiking in hot weather, then consider getting a dog vest. A good dog vest can be soaked with water in order to dissipate all the heat as the water evaporates. You can also find a fleece bodysuit, which covers a dog’s entire body. This suit is very protective and comes in handy during chilly nights.

If budget is tight, check out our piece on  how you can make doggy clothes in no time.

Dog with clother on hiking

Speaking of dog hiking boots, do not forget that rough surfaces can be pretty damaging for your dog’s paw pads. Your dog would be thankful for the extra protection, especially if you have to go over the rocky or snowy surface. You should also put the boots on your pet if you notice that the paws are getting frozen. These boots come in various sizes and your dog will be probably reluctant to wear them. It may seem strange at the beginning, but it is always better to be strange at first than having your dog hurt his paws.

If you are wondering about the models, get the ones that are flexible and of high quality. Most of these dog boots have a flexible lug design that enables your dog to have control on any terrain, especially if it is filled with rocks or sand. They also consist of integrated stretch gaiters that protect the legs and seal out the dirt and debris.

The boots should also be weather-resistant and block any moisture. It is easier if they have intuitive, rip and stick cinch straps so you can easily put them on the pet’s paws. The straps would not be too tight or loose, otherwise they would slip off, or the dog would not be able to walk if they are too tight. Make sure to try them out on your dog and let him walk around for a bit before purchasing them.

Dog gear for hiking

If you are not sure how to get the proper size for your dog, then make your dog stand on a firm surface, place a piece of paper under a front paw. After that lift your dog’s opposite paw so that the weight can be placed firmly onto the paw that is being measured. Measure both sides of a weighted paw at its widest point on the sheet of paper. Measure the distance and choose the correct boot size from the sizes that are provided.

Most important tips

Obedience training

Make sure that your dog is trained before you decide to take him with you to the hiking trip. It is always for the best when dogs are trained from an early age, however, you should probably make sure to go over the commands once again and even make a trial. This trial means taking your dog to the area or route that would be similar or the same to the one you would be taking if you two were really going on the trip. That way you can see your dog’s behavior in the presence of other animals, people, and wilderness in general. Our tips on easy obedience training will help you a lot.

Do not forget to bring a dog pack

This means that bringing a specialized pack for your dog will make it easier for you and you can let your dog help with carrying the load himself. However, bear in mind that dogs can carry up to 25% of their weight, while some of the bigger breeds can carry even 40%. This also depends on the age – if the dog is too young or old, it will be harder for him to carry the load.

You should also make sure that the pack is fastened properly and the straps should not be pulled too tight or it would be difficult for your dog to breathe normally. But if it is too loose, then you can lose it.

There are four types of packs: dividers (they divide food and water so they would not get mixed up), collapsible food dish (special good packets that can fit perfectly inside the pack or sometimes they can even be zipped on the outside), pockets for cooling (the place in which you can keep the ice from the freezer so they would cool down during the hot weather) and a top handle (it enables you to hand onto your dog, for example, when you are crossing a shallow river). There are also reflective packs in which you can put the light in order to make the visibility better. Here’s a listing of topnotch dog packs to inspire you on your next camping trip.

Basic first aid kit

You should always bring a basic first aid kit with yourself, not only for your dog but also because of you. You can find the important information about dogs and their safety at the sites such as The American Veterinary Medical Association and The Red Cross which also offers classes in pet first aid. Most of these aids also come with a book in which you can find the most important things in case you forget them. It is not possible to find a vet in the wilderness so always be careful and prepared.

Dog food and rewarding treats

As we have already mentioned, you should bear in mind that your dog consumes more energy than on a regular daily basis, so you should pack more food than usual. Prepare the food that is able to withstand extreme temperatures and that can be easily stored in a pack. You should also bring along your doggie’s favorite treats, in case you would like to practice in the wild and reward your pet when he is behaving properly.

Water and water bowl

Hydration is of utmost importance, so pack enough bottles for both your dog and yourself. Find out in our article how much water your pet needs to avoid dehydration. You probably won’t be able to find the source of water in the wild, so you should be prepared. Additionally, if you come across a river, lake or swamp, pay attention to what your dog is doing and do not let him drink the water.

The same goes for the ocean, the salty water can be very unpleasant and when it comes to rivers and lakes – they can contain dangerous parasites or algae that can be harmful for your dog. So a piece of good advice would be that you should always keep the bottles of fresh water near you.

Leash and collar

Even though your dog may be an obedient pet and he listens to your commands and calls, having a leash is very important in order for you to keep him protected. One of the reasons is that some areas demand (and it is also required by law) for you to keep your dog on leash, and you can also avoid accidents by keeping your dog on leash for some time.

Insect repellent

You probably do not need to even head a word mosquitoes, the reaction would be immediately negative. That is perfectly normal, but do not forget that dogs can react in a negative way to insects’ bites, so make sure to apply an insect repellent on your dog and yourself before stepping out in the wilderness. However, do not forget to consult the vet and take into account the medical history of your dog – whether he has had any allergies or reactions to bites or repellents before.

It is also very important to check your dog’s entire body for ticks, foxtails and other dangerous insects after your trip, because your dog can become very ill if you do not take care of these things in time.

ID tags and dog boots

It is always possible to get lost or to get into some kind of accident and that is why it is important to, not only bring yours, but also your dog’s ID tag and a photo. In that way, if your dog gets lost in the woods, you can ask around and try to find him faster. The even better solution would be to microchip your dog, which is highly recommendable.

Dog boots are important for taking care of your dog’s sensitive paws pads, and we have already mentioned some of their properties above.

Disposing of waste by using bags and a trowel

These compact rolls of plastic bags and a trowel will be needed in order for you to get rid of your dog\s waste. It is your responsibility, even if you are in the wild. Dig a small hole, deposit the waste in it and cover it with the pile. That means you should deposit that waste at least 200 feet away from the water sources or camps.

Additional items

Some of the items that should be also or once again mentioned are: dog harnesses that are used for more technical trails or climbing, then GPS beacons and leashes that fasten to you via karabiners, a dog-specific bike trailer, a dog tent (not all dogs like to spend time in these, however, they can be also used as sun shelters), leashes, cooling collars for hot days and creams that help some dog breeds to stay more comfortable in the snow because they cannot or do not need boots.

Limits and needs

To sum up, the most important thing about hiking with your dog is that you are aware of his limits and needs. According to your dog’s size, breed and fur, decide on the appropriate clothes and boots. This article provided you with the most important steps and a guide to a successful hiking with your beloved furry friend.

Dog with shoes

There are a lot of important things that you should take care of before you embark on the trip, and there are also even more important things that you should check after the hiking trip.

However, the reason for this is also the opportunity for you and your pet to bond and find out more about each other. It is always a great idea to spend time outdoors and enjoy the beauty of the nature. You will feel healthier and you dog will be happier.

About the author
Emily Young
Emily Young

Emily is originally from China where she graduated from The University of Hong Kong with high distinction learning about fashion and design. During university she opened her own magazine about Dog Fashion as dogs were always in her heart. She was surprised, when she moved to a beautiful British Columbia 10 years ago, to see many great Boutiques with dog's designer clothing and desire of pet owners to make their babies look nice.

  • Amber Hart

    The thing is, most dogs really dislike footsies. Be it sneakers or boots or any other footwear. I haven’t met a dog who loved a pair of boots. So my alternative is to have self-adhering bandages on hand. These may not offer the level of protection that a pair of boots would give, but they protect our pooch’s paws, and that’s enough for me.

  • Any additional protection helps, so this is a cool and less agitating idea. Thanks for sharing!

  • Sandra Underwood

    My Lab loves to hike but detests anything that comes in contact with his paws. Every time we put socks or hiking shoes on him, he just freezes and refuse to budge. Any ideas on dog-friendly shoes for hiking? Are there products that we can just spray on their paws to protect them from getting cracked?

    • Emily Young

      There are numerous options available at pet store. However, there are supportive solutions that can be applied on their paws to prevent them from becoming cracked or sore.

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