As resourceful as dogs can be when it comes to survival, they still need a bit of comfort and TLC, especially on the trail. To meet their needs, it’s smart to bring along gear specifically for your dog. I’ve provided you with a breakdown of some of the items you’ll want to have when you’re hiking with your own dog, so keep reading to learn more.
A pack is a key item for your dog. Finding the right one for your dog will take some consideration, but there are universal standards to keep in mind, as well. Make sure the pack fits your dog securely, but comfortably, and be sure not to fill it with too much gear. Your pack’s straps should be easily adjustable and quickly undone, and the fabric and stitching should be tougher than that of your own pack, as your dog’s will most likely see more wear and tear. Furthermore, bright colors are a good choice and all packs should have a reflective strip on the side.
Next, it might be good to invest in a pair of booties, which typically fasten with velcro around the top and completely cover the dew claw so as to prevent chafing. Be sure to get ones made from lightweight material that is abrasion resistant, and only use them on rough or hot surfaces. Unlike humans, dogs don’t need boots all the time when hiking, but it’s still smart to carry several pairs of boots along, especially on a long hike.
At night, you’ll find that both sleeping pads and blankets will go a long way towards keeping your dog comfortable. Not only will a sleeping pad be necessary for the dog when the ground is too cold, but having one for him will keep him from stealing yours. When choosing a sleeping pad for your dog, be sure to find one made of closed cell foam, in order to keep moisture out. Then, I suggest cutting it down in length to save weight. For a blanket, choose one that’s lightweight, but also big enough to cover the dog completely. Also, it’s best to find one that’s made of material that will insulate even when wet, such as polyester fleece or Thinsulate.
Lastly, you’ll need a collar and leash, as well as an ID tag for your dog. Most trails and parks allow for a maximum leash length of six feet, which I advise getting. Anything shorter will hinder your dog’s range of movement and might have you tripping over them as you hike. Your dog’s ID tag needs to have your name, your dog’s name, a contact phone number, and any other vital information, such as microchip number or additional contacts. Also, it’s smart to keep a current photo of your dog on you for identification purposes if he/she does get lost.
As you can see, your dog will have their own list of essential gear for the trail that any good owner will strive to accommodate. Keeping the items listed above on hand for when you take your own dog out for a hike will go a long way towards ensuring their comfort, health, and safety.