What to bring when hiking with a dog
If you love walking with your dog you may want to try going on a hike with your furry friend too. Despite them being very similar walking and hiking are different activities, the best definition of hiking would be taking long distance walks.
From personal experience there’s no better activity you could do with your dog than take a whole or half day to explore. Obviously, your activity time will differ depending on the breed of dog you have. If you want to find out about some of the best dogs for hiking then check out our post on “5 best dogs for hiking”.
Dog Hiking Gear List
Harness – A harness is obviously an optional accessory for walking with your dog but when it comes to hiking, they can be great tools for keeping your dog safe. A dog harness gives you more control over your dog and speaking from personal experience they can help pull your pooch from a dangerous situation. If you want to find out more about the best harnesses for hiking then check out a post by “Life Out The Hive” on 5 of the best dog hiking harnesses.
Leash – It would be uncommon for any dog owner not to have a leash with them when they take their dog out. When hiking with your dog a good strong leash is often needed but taking a spare can also pay off. Not that your current leash is likely to break but if it does then a spare can come in handy. Spare leashes can also help if you come across any stray or lost dogs, its not that uncommon on hiking trails to find dogs that have wondered off. Reflective leaches can often be a good idea, especially if you plan on hiking in the dark, its also good to get something that stands out to identify your leash if you lose it in the grass.
Collapsible Water Bowl – Water is the most important thing for your dog, a fresh drink can give them a real boost. OK so the bowl you use doesn’t have to be collapsible but it is important to take something your pooch can drink out of. Taking plenty of water in separate bottles, one for your dog and one for you will allow you to monitor how much they drink and make sure they are getting enough.
Food – When considering what to bring when hiking with a dog is food is a vital item to take. When hiking long distances your dog’s energy levels will deteriorate quicker than on their normal daily routine, for this reason you must ensure you bring enough food for a long day’s hike. Research suggests that you should be feeding your dog their normal amount of food but adding an extra cup per 20 pounds of dog weight. This is a guide for an entire day and is just to ensure they have enough energy for the hike. Remember not to let them run around too much after they have eaten as it can cause stomach problems.
Dog Backpack – This is a chance for you to unload some of the baggage on your pooch. Dog backpacks are a common item to take on a long-distance hike, when you really don’t have the ability carry anything else. Dogs have incredible endurance and if you have a strong dog that is well averse to hiking then why not let them carry some of the load. After all they probably have you carrying some of their things. Dog backpacks come in various styles and sizes so choose the one you think will be the best for the level of hiking you are going to be doing.
Dog GPS Tracker – This is something that is becoming more and more of an issue, thousands of dogs go missing in the UK and even more all over the world every year whether that being stolen or just escaping their homes. GPS trackers are a great way to keep an eye on your dog, allowing you to see with great accuracy whereabouts your pooch is.
They are small devices that clip onto the collar and are fairly inexpensive compared to the worry it could cause if your dog went missing. It must be noted however these gadgets are not a replacement for the vital microchip which has your dog’s details on although you can input some of that data onto the tracker.
Dog Activity Tracker – Dog activity trackers are another optional extra but can provide you with some insightful information about how your dog performs on a long hike. The best trackers allow you to see information like how far your dog has walked, calories burnt, temperature and even their sleep quality. Its not a necessity but its something fun for you and your pooch to work together on, setting new targets and getting healthier as a pair.
We all seem to live busy lives and sometimes our pooch can become lacking in good exercise, especially through those winter months. Activity trackers are a great way of seeing whether your dog is getting a decent amount of exercise and even monitoring their sleep can help identify health problems.
Light up Collar – Something that should be on every dog hiking gear list, especially if you intend on going hiking in the dark is a light up collar for your dog. Light up collars can allow you to see your dog in dark places giving you that confidence that they are still safe. When hiking over multiple days you may be presented with lack of daylight even despite planning your hike down to a tee. At least with a light up collar you don’t have to worry about where your pooch is and can concentrate on getting to your destination for a night’s rest.
Waterproof Coat – This seems a bit of a strange one as many hiking dogs don’t really care much about getting wet. However, you have to consider the time of year you are going hiking. If you intend on hiking in the winter, then having a wet dog is not such a good thing. The cold will soon get to the moisture in their fur and make them cold. If your camping overnight your dog might start to get cold due to their fur being wet, this won’t be a comfortable situation for them and they may even get hypothermia depending on the temperature.
Dog Towel – This one leads nicely from the previous item, as a waterproof coat won’t cover their whole body. Its just a whole lot easier if you dry your pooch off once you arrive at your destination or even along the way. Having a wet dog walking around your tent won’t be the most enjoyable situation for yourself. There are many camping towels out there that fold up nicely into a small bag. I recommend getting a microfiber towel as this soaks up the moisture a whole lot better than a cotton towel and is great for fitting into a rucksack.
Dog Shoes – Dog shoes can be a life saver to a dog’s paws depending on the type of terrain you plan to be hiking along. Rocky terrain tends to be quite harsh on a dog’s paws and can slow them down or lead to injuries. If you are hiking on a softer surface such as moorland you are probably OK not to give your dog boots but if they are comfortable wearing them then it can still be a good idea.
When you introduce your dog to boots, do it slowly in the house or garden as they will most likely not enjoy wearing them. Dogs slowly get used to the feeling, but there are still things to consider when choosing the right type. Boots that are waterproof and have a grippy sole. The sole should also be flexible and choose a boot with Velcro adjustments as its much easier to adjust for the perfect fit.
Paw Wax – A dog’s paws are 4 of the most important features a dog has, they are their shoes essentially. You would never consider going on a long hike without any shoes on and so dogs rely on their paws a lot. Keeping them protected can be done by either using dog boots as highlighted above or by using paw wax to give them a protective layer.
One of the main reasons to apply paw wax is to prevent your dogs’ paws from cracking, it also protects against hot pavements or ice-cold surfaces. The wax will give your dogs paws protection from these harsh surfaces but still be aware it has its limits, just use common sense and if you think the surface is too hot or too cold then don’t take them on it.
Tick Remover – Where we live this is a must and comes with us on every hike. Ticks are notorious where there is sheep farming and the majority of the time, when we take our dog onto the moors he will come back with a tick or two. Ticks are not such a big deal when they first arrive on your dogs’ fur, as our golden retriever has a double coat, they often find it difficult to get to his skin, so they head towards his face where the fur is shorter.
The problems start when they attach themselves to the skin of your dog. Don’t panic as they can be removed with the use of a tick tool. This handy little device hooks under the tick’s body and twists it out of the skin, you must ensure you have gotten the head out as this can cause infection. If you live somewhere where ticks are common it’s a must on any hiking trip, its also tiny so will fit easily in your pocket. If you want to become more aware about the problems with ticks then check out this article on the RSPCA website. “Ticks on dogs and cats”
First Aid Kit – Often people forget that their dog can get injured too, we see them bounding around acting like they are invincible. Dogs usually tell you if something is wrong and the majority of the time when hiking, its to do with their feet.
First aid kits are vital if you are going on a long hike and its not just you that may need it. Your dog would normally require the same items as yourself so the general message is to pack more of what you would need. Some additional items may be in the form of an Elizabethan cone for dogs, which you can acquire in a portable version, some even inflate. For a list of first aid items and some further advice on packing a dog first aid kit have a look at this article from the blue cross “Basic First Aid For Dogs”
Whistle – A whistle is an all-round great item for hiking. Its small is unlikely to break, can go around your neck and most importantly is amazing at getting attention. Bringing a whistle is not just good for when you’re in trouble, it is also good for calling your dog over. If your dog is far in the distance, they may not be able to hear you properly, especially if they have been in the water. Training your dog to return when hearing the whistle can make recall a lot easier when walking off lead. Dog whistles could also be used but you may need to do some further training with your pooch.
OK, so that’s a pretty comprehensive dog gear list but its always better to be prepared than have to deal with an awkward situation. Most of this stuff is fairly portable and is pretty standard for hiking its just figuring out what to take in relation to the type of hike you plan on going on. Longer hikes require more preparation than shorter ones so just figure out what suits you and most importantly enjoy yourself.
If you have any other suggestions about what to bring when hiking with a dog then drop a comment below. We love to hear from our readers so be free to drop us an email at email@example.com
We hope you enjoyed this post if you love getting out and about with your dog, take a look at our website for more great posts about dog walking and other outdoor activities.