Fancy spending a day trekking up a hill with your dog or following a trail for an afternoon scenic picnic? Perhaps you prefer a more intense adventure? You could go away for a weekend wilderness camping adventure.
Just as it is good for your mental and physical health to get out of the city and get some fresh air and activity, it’s great for your dog too!
But taking little adventure trips with your pet means more than just physical benefits. It’s a fun outdoor activity that allows you to bond with your dog and create priceless memories with them.
New to taking trips with your pet and unsure of where to start? We’ve covered all the hiking essentials for your dog in this article—it’s the perfect guide for newbies.
Essentials Before Backpacking with Dogs
Before you simply pack up and leave with your dog, there are a few things you must have planned and ready. These are hiking essentials for your dog that are necessary for all hikes, no matter how long or short.
Microchip Your Dog
Most backpackers or hikers don’t leash their dogs on trips. Why? Because a leash will keep pets confined to owners instead of allowing them the space they need to truly enjoy themselves. But this comes at a risk.
Your friendly, loveable dog is a descendent of wolves, so traveling long distances and exploring is inherent to them. Which means there’s a chance your dog might follow an interesting scent well off the beaten path. And out of hearing range. And they could easily get lost in their new surroundings. So how do you find them?
Microchipping is a simple procedure done exclusively by vets. It involves inserting a tiny chip between the dog’s shoulder blades right beneath the skin’s surface. This chip makes it easy for whoever finds your dog to contact you.
It’s like a modern, tech-savvy dog collar – without the collar!
Carry Adequate Snacks
Wondering, Do dogs need snacks on hikes?
Hiking is a strenuous activity that requires thorough planning and plenty of snacks. Both you and your dog will need energy and breaks for the trip to be a pleasantly memorable one. So snacks are hiking essentials for your dog and for yourself too.
Keep some fruits, energy bars, dog biscuits, and other light snacks in your backpack to be shared with your pet as you walk along. Make sure you are aware of which food your dog can eat.
This will keep your stomachs satisfied and enable you to walk long distances without fatigue settling in.
Hydration Is Key
Both you and your dog will require drinking water to stay hydrated during your adventure. While it’s difficult to ascertain how much water dogs need when hiking, you should carry at least a gallon of water while hiking.
A dog’s fur coat makes them more susceptible to heat.
You should offer your dog a drink of water at 30-minute intervals, preferably from a lightweight, travel-friendly bowl that can be carried in your backpack. However, if the weather proves to be exceptionally dry and hot, you should allow them to drink water at more frequent intervals.
First Aid Kit Is A Must
While getting lost in the lap of nature with your best friend can be an enjoyable experience, it also poses certain risks.
As dog hikers, it is advisable to be prepared for emergencies like snake and insect bites, body injuries, etc.
A well-stocked first-aid kit must include:
- Antibacterial ointments (dog friendly, please)
- Gauze, cotton, and tape
- Alcohol wipes
- Stretchy bandages
- Styptic pencil
- Tick remover
This is not an exhaustive list—people also carry a spare leash, a muzzle, an emergency blanket, and so on. Do some research and make a list that’s more specific to your hiking trip, or consider purchasing a ready kit. Another awesome item to have for both you and your dog is the BEARZ Outdoor Microfiber Towel, it is lightweight, super-absorbent and fast-drying, it’s an essential to take with you while you’re outdoors and exploring.
ALSO READ: How to Camp Like a Pro
Just like us, our furry friends can be victims of heat strokes too. Excessive heat can also cause fatigue, so make sure that you do not push your dog beyond its limits.
Check the weather if you plan to go hiking with your dog during the daytime and carry sun-protective gear. Yes, sunblock is available for dogs too. In addition, goggles and sun protective gear are hiking essentials for your dog. Check the market for different dog-friendly equipment available that will help you protect your pets from the harsh sun.
Before you set off with your hiking dogs, do quick research on the weather conditions and prepare your backpack accordingly.
Dog fur doesn’t dry quickly, so you should carry a raincoat for your dog to prevent them from getting drenched in bad weather. Similarly, you should carry additional warm clothing for your dogs to protect them from harsh winds and cold weather.
When backpacking with a dog, the question of whether or not you should keep them on a leash is subjective.
If you are hiking on a safe, pre-existing trail, and your dog is trained to follow your commands, you can allow them to roam free and explore by themselves. However, if you plan to navigate a new terrain or are less convinced of your pet’s obedience, it would be preferable to keep them safely on a leash and out of harm’s way, should it come to it.
Dogs can also help in guarding you against unwanted predators. What that also means is that your dog might chase the predator or, worse, engage it—and that’s not quite what we want.
While the choice is yours, we would recommend buying a special leash for hikes, preferably one that is strong and durable and can withstand different weather conditions, pressure, etc.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Dogs Need Hiking Gear?
When hiking, dogs tend to be more sure-footed than humans. They also have a better sense of direction and navigation. All of these, combined with their instincts, means dogs do not require extensive hiking gear, unlike humans.
As long as you have basic hiking essentials for your dogs like food, water, first aid kits, and weather-related protective gear in your dog hiking backpack, you can relax and enjoy making memories with your beloved pets.
And if you’re going camping, you can invest in a dog backpacking tent so you both are comfortable during the night.
Does My Dog Require Hiking Boots?
This is another subjective topic—the pads under your dog’s paws are thick and rubber-like and offer them natural protection against the terrain. So to some, it sounds absurd to force dogs into hiking boots. However, hiking trails are not city streets, nor are they tiled or laminated house floors. There’s excessive dirt and mud, thorns and sharp rocks and whatnots. Hiking boots are meant to prevent your dog from injuring itself or developing calluses. The choice is yours and your dogs.
How Many Miles Can a Dog Hike?
Most dogs enjoy spending time outdoors since exploring is inherent to them. And since they’re overeager and easily overestimate themselves, it’s up to us to decide how long a trek ought to be.
Base your decision on factors such as your dog’s health and age, and the difficulty level of the trail. Don’t forget to factor in weather conditions—your dog will probably be less exhausted when hiking in cooler conditions like early morning or early evenings than during mid-day.
Is Hiking Good for Dogs?
There are a plethora of trails, and nature parks to visit, and a dog makes an incredible companion for these adventures.
A good dose of daily exercise is extremely important for your dog’s physical and mental health. But routines and familiar neighborhoods and parks can quickly lose their charm.
A long hike with your pet can counter their boredom, reduce restlessness, and offer them some much-needed mental and physical stimulation. Additionally, spending quality time with their owners out in nature can do wonders for their happiness and can actually be considered as a special treat.
Hiking can create an overall improvement in your pet’s behavior at home by giving them an outlet for their pent-up energy, which can help in reducing aggression and other undesirable behaviors.
ALSO READ: 5 Camping Safety Tips You Need to Know
What Do You Do With Dog Poop When Hiking?
You wouldn’t want to step in someone else’s dog poo, would you?
Similarly, leaving dog poop on a hiking trail is unethical, and it is bound to ruin the hike for those who come after you.
When you go backpacking with your dog, carry a travel-size poop-scooper and spare poo bags. If, however, you do not have plastic bags, bury the poo. But remember to follow safety protocols—the hole should be at least six inches deep and nowhere near any water source.
Hiking is a simple activity that can be enjoyed both by you and your dog. It offers multiple physical and mental health benefits to both dogs and humans as well.
Not only does it expose your dog to new experiences, environments, and weather conditions, it allows them to let loose, run wild, and explore freely. The absence of other distractions while hiking makes it a great activity to strengthen the bond between you and your dog and make them feel loved and cherished.
So why put off this wonderful activity? Plan your trip, get all the hiking essentials for your dog, and you’re all set to have a wonderful trip.
Enjoy your adventure!