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Hiking with your dog: How to begin, safety tips, and gear recommendations. - Next Adventure

Hiking with your dog: How to begin, safety tips, and gear recommendations.

If you’re like me, then you’re looking forward to warmer and longer days filled with outdoor adventures with your dog. Whether you are just starting out looking for a refresher, this guide is set up to help you and your pup prepare for a day on the trail.

Training and Conditioning

Like Humans, dogs need conditioning. Start with easier, shorter hikes to get your dog comfortable on the new terrain. Use this opportunity to reinforce their trail manners. Commands like, “Leave it” and recall will help keep your dog and others safe. Follow the leash laws of the trail; they are there for your dog’s safety.

Make sure to take your dog’s size and age into consideration when planning outings. For puppies a good rule of thumb is 5 minutes per every month of their age until they are around 12 months (for smaller breeds) or 18 months (for larger breeds). Consult your vet if you have any questions or concerns.

My gear recommendations

I am a strong advocate for not overconsuming. To be outdoorsy, simply all you need to do is go outside. But I will say, having quality gear, and gear made for the outdoors can help make the outdoor adventures easier for you and your pup.

The Ruffwear Switchbak leash is a great multifunctional leash for outdoor adventures. This versatile leash allows me to adapt the leash to my needs. If I am trail running, I can easily attach the leash to my waist for hands-free adventures. The metal length adjuster also serves as a great attachment point for a waster bag holder.

Our everyday collar, The Front Range Dog Collar, transitions to a great trail collar because of its strong and durable webbing and separate d-ring and ID attachment points and silicone tag silencer. This makes for a much quieter day on the trail.

For a harness, I like the Web Master Harness. It provides a full range of motion for him to run and jump, a handle that allows me to help my dog over obstacles, it has 5 adjustment points, and 2 attachment points. I like to use one for his leash and the other for a safety light for early morning or late-night adventures.

hike with dogs

For longer trails, or overnights, it may be helpful to invest in a pack for your pup. This way, they can carry their own gear. Be sure to condition them on how to be comfortable wearing it. You can do this by putting it on them while taking walks or having them wear it around the house. Build this up over time while gradually increasing the weight in the pack. Remember, most dogs can carry up to 25% of their body weight. - Ruffwear Switchbak Dog Harness | Next Adventure

hike with dogs

Paw balm or booties can protect your dog’s feet from rugged and hot terrain. Paw balm is great for pre and post hiking as it helps soothe dry pads caused by the trails and boots are great for protecting the paws while on the trail.

Safety and Preparation

Continuing with the safety of your pup. Be sure to get a first aid kit together that has all the essentials needed for trail injuries. This includes tweezers, wound care, sprain/strain care, and an antihistamine (be sure to chat with your vet about proper dosage and when/if to administer this one). Better to be over prepared than under in this case.

Another great product to keep on you is a cooling collar or vest. Ruffwear’s Swamp Cooler line offers a variety of products that are great for warmer days on the trail. Be sure to know the signs of heatstroke as well and what you can do in the moment to help cool your dog down.

When planning your hike, it is important to remember that your dog will need energy and hydration as well. Be sure to pack some high calorie chews or treats as well as water and a collapsible bowl for trails that don’t pass by a water source.

Be Respectful 

Remember to leave no trace. Dogs produce waste that can be harmful to the environment you are hiking in. Ruffwear’s Pack out Bag offers a hands-free alternative to carrying waste bags or setting them down to “come back to later”.

Don’t allow your dog to wander off trail or disturb wildlife.

Be sure to check what trails allow dogs. and Alltrails are great resources for clarifying if a trail is dog friendly or not.

Lastly, have fun and don’t stress too much. Hiking with your dog should be an exciting and enjoyable time for both of you.

hike with dogs

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