For active dogs and their people, hiking can be fun and fulfilling. It’s good exercise and a wonderful way for you to spend quality time together. But before you lace up your boots and head for the nearest trail with your buddy, make sure you’re prepared so the experience is enjoyable both of you. Nowadays, there are all kinds of products that can help ensure your dog stays safe and comfortable while on a hike.
Water bowl and pouch
Keeping your dog hydrated while hiking is very important. Water in creeks and lakes may seem harmless but can be full of parasites and viruses. You can bring water along in a bottle or thermos and use a collapsible bowl to serve it in. The REI Dog Water Bowl folds nicely into a small pouch, while the Tröff Pouch is a reusable water container just for dogs – both are easy to carry. Also make sure to carry some healthy high quality treats to keep your dog’s energy levels up.
Apparel and boots
Take into consideration what the weather is going to be like on your hike. If it’s hot and humid, stay home and wait for another day – dogs can easily develop heat exhaustion when exercising in hot weather. If it’s going to be brisk, however, or there is a possibility of rain, your dog might benefi t from some protective apparel. The 1Z Coat from Pawz Dogs Boots is a hi-tech coat with a built-in harness and full belly coverage – it’s waterproof, windproof and washable. Ruffwear’s Swamp Cooler, meanwhile, helps keep your dog cool when the sun comes out – you simply soak it in cool water, wring it out and attach to your dog. The company also offers windbreakers, rain overcoats and all-in-ones such as the Cloud Chaser, which protects against all the elements as well as keeping your dog insulated. Dog boots help protect paws from sharp rocks, broken glass and other hazards you might encounter on the trail. Pawz Dog Boots are great for hiking moderate trails. They are disposable, reusable and waterproof, and they slip on easily. They also give your dog a “naked paw” sensation that allows him to feel the ground fully and experience full paw motion. The boots are easy to carry, and if you lose one, there’s no need to worry – you’ve got more (each pack comes with 12 boots). For extra traction, Ruffwear’s Bark N Boots are rubber-soled hiking boots made for the roughest terrains.
Harness and leash
On most maintained trails, dogs are required to be on a leash. In fact, it’s wise not to let your dog run free no matter where you are – he could have an encounter with a wild animal, or get into something else that could harm him, such as a wasp’s nest. So it’s very important you have control of him at all times.
Choose a durable quality harness and leash for hiking, and opt for a product that safely and comfortably prevents the dog from pulling. This will keep both of you from being injured. One unique product is the No Pull Back Leg Dog Harness from PetMedStore.com. It’s specially designed to create a harmless sensation around the back legs of your dog, thereby preventing him from generating the power to pull.
It’s safe for your dog to carry up to 25% of his body weight in a pack or “saddlebags” as long as he is in good physical condition. Having your dog share the load can make hiking easier and more enjoyable for you. The first step is to measure the circumference of your dog’s chest and get the right sized pack for him. It needs to be snug but not tight, yet not so loose that it will fall off.
REI is just one company that offers trail packs made for dogs of various sizes – they’re durable but lightweight, and offer multiple compartments for handy storage.
Bug repellent and sun protection
It is essential to protect yourself and your dog from biting insects and sunburn. Consider dog-friendly bug repellent with SPF protection. It is important to use natural products on your dog as he may be likely to lick them off. OmniShield is one natural product with neem and karanja oil that protects your dog from all kinds of flying and crawling insects, including ticks, fleas, flies, mosquitoes and lice. Evolv Natural Flea and Tick Spray is another good product to use before hitting the trail – and it repels mosquitoes too.
The sun’s rays can be dangerous, especially to short-haired or light-coated breeds. Pay special attention to sun-sensitive areas such as the tips of the ears and nose, belly and groin areas. SPA by TropiClean is a sunscreen spray that offers a SPF of 15 as well as fur conditioning. Epi-Pet Sun Protector is another good sun spray for dogs.
After a day on the trail, your dog will appreciate a spot to crash on the drive home. Buddy Beds’ Travel Beds are designed for SUVs and give your canine hiking partner a place to rest in comfort during the trip, whether you’re going a few blocks or a hundred miles. Once you’re home, you can both relax – and enjoy that satisfying tiredness that comes from a day spent outdoors in the fresh air!