Dogs love hiking, and we love hiking with them. Here’s a couple quick tips to make hiking with your dog a little easier.
Use a Carabiner on the Leash
Need to stop for a pee? Want to sit down for lunch? Keeping a carabiner handy will turn any leash into a makeshift anchor. Simply attach it to the hand loop on your leash, wrap the leash around a small tree and clip the carabiner to the main line of the leash. You’ll have yourself a handy short term anchor so you can walk around freely. You can also use the carabiner to clip your dog to heavy objects for a quick stop. Personally, when I run off to the bathroom, I like to clip my dog to my pack. It doesn’t damage any trees and my bag weighs enough to encourage her not to run. Quick a simple!
Get a Doggy Backpack
Dog packs accomplish a number of goals. They take the weight off of you and they make the trip more enjoyable for your pup. Many active dog breeds are descendants of working dogs, so they actually enjoy the act of carrying, pulling and working. Dog packs create a challenge and can enhance your pup’s trip. The most important feature of a dog pack is fit, so make sure you take some time and order a couple of different styles to ensure your pup has the perfect pack. Keep it simple, the dog carries the dog stuff and you carry your stuff. No need to overload you or your dog.
Bring Extra Food & Water
This is quick and easy. When you’re hiking outside, you burn more calories, and so does your dog. You don’t need much, but an extra half a scoop per meal will ensure that your pup isn’t going to end up malnourished during a long hike. The same goes for water. If you stop for water, give your dog some too. A quick tip is to poor some in the lid of your water bottle for an easy hand sized bowl. You can also bring foldable or squishable bowls that fit well in the dogs backpack.
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Carry a Doggy First Aid Kit
Dogs get hurt in the same ways that people do. They can’t tell us, but if you know your dog well enough, you’ll know when something is wrong. Carrying a small doggy first aid kit can help deal with minor issues on the trail. When choosing what to bring, I like to pair the size of my pup’s kit with the size of my own, but I always carry one specifically for my animal, and one specifically for me, that way if both of us get hurt neither are without treatment. Generally speaking, most of the materials are the same: gauze rolls, ace bandages, first aid tape, ice packs and SAM splints. There are also some pet specific items that are nice to have. For example, self-cling bandages that stick to themselves but not fur, tweezers for removing ticks, nail clippers, and a pillow case/sheet for dragging or carrying. The Humane Society has a nice list of items to keep with you. Also, be sure to treat your dog with flea and tick medicine before going out. This will eliminate the risk of having to pull bugs off of him/her every night.
Give your dog a place to sit
In order to avoid endless tangling, it helps to give your dog somewhere to sit. I’ve trained my pup to “place” on her mat. The mat I use is a thin piece of cut up yoga mat so it gives some basic padding and protects from pokey rocks and sticks. When we get into camp, I let her run around for a while and follow me, but when she starts to get anxious and bored I’ll tell her to go sit on her mat. This is especially helpful if I’m cooking dinner, setting up the tent, or performing other active camp routines where don’t need a shadow. Chances are that after a long day of hiking your dog won’t want to move around much, but in case they do, it’s nice to have a built in way to keep them calm.