Dogs enjoy hiking just as much as we do and deserve a chance to see the scenery and enjoy an adventure with you. Whether you’re hitting the trail, spending time at the campsite or just taking the walking path in your community, hiking with your dogs is a great way to bond and build their confidence.
Be sure to bring plenty of food and water and the right gear for your trips such as a dog harness, food bowl and extra shelter to name a few. You also need to make sure your hiking bag is large enough to accommodate your dog’s extra items.
Tips for Hiking and Camping with Dogs
While it may not be as easy as setting your dogs loose on the trail, it’s actually quite simple to prepare for a hiking with your dogs as long as you take a few precautions ahead of time and plan out your trek. Each dog is different and have different personalities, but one thing is certain: all dogs enjoy new smells and animals you may encounter on the trail. Hiking with a furry companion ranks high on the fun scale as long as you do it right and pack the right gear for your dog.
You’ve heard the saying, “Gear makes the hiking trip.” While this may not be 100% accurate in all situations, you will want to bring the right supplies for your dog to fully enjoy your trip. Foregoing the right preparation can lead to a horrible hiking trip with your dog and can make both of you not want to go again. Obviously, some dogs take to the trail immediately and listen to directions, but I’ve had my fair share of dogs that forgot all of their training the second we stepped foot into nature.
Benefits of hiking with your dog
Hiking is a great way to stay in shape and clear your mind after a long week at work. It’s also a fun way to exercise and bond with your dog! Not only is it a great workout for both of you, it’s also a great way to train your dog to listen to your commands. While there may be quite a few distractions for you dog as he or she acclimates to the new sounds and smells, hiking provides the perfect opportunity for you to practice training. You can work on their leash skills, keeping the proper distance from other hikers and you can work on basic commands.
Hiking is also a great way to entertain a bored dog. Pups and even older dogs long for the woods and hiking is a great way to keep them occupied and to make them feel more alive versus sitting at home all day. What’s good for your mental health is often great for your dog as well and a hike ranks at the top of activities you can do to enance both your mood as well as theirs.
Here’s what you need to do before hiking with your dog
First, the gear you need while hiking with your dog depends on whether you intend to camp or if you’re just taking a quick day-hike. Either way, it’s a good idea to over-prepare because you never know what you may encounter while in the woods. Let’s assume for the sake of this article that you do intend to camp so we can include the supplies you should get to be fully prepared.
Make Sure Your Hiking Trail/Campsite is Animal Friendly
Always check the local rules before bringing your dog on the trail or campsite. Many areas don’t allow dogs for various reasons and it would ruin your trip to drive out to the location only to find out they don’t allow dogs. All you have to do is call the Ranger’s station if you’re going to public property or contact the site owner if you’re camping. They will tell you up front if dogs are allows on the trails or campsite.
Bring the Right Food
A good rule of thumb when hiking or camping is to bring more food and water than you expect to use. This goes double when bringing your furry companion. Hiking burns a lot of calories and your dog may need to eat more than usual. Water is also a major concern, especially if you hike in hot climates. Pack way more water than you think you will need just in case. You will also need to bring a way for your pup to drink while at the campsite or on the trail. I recommend the Yeti dog bowls because they’re made of stainless-steel and perfect for heavy-duty use.
Bring Shelter for Your Dog
While you probably already have a tent for yourself, have you considered your dog? Your pup doesn’t need a separate tent, but you need to make sure you have plenty of room for them. Keep in mind, that they may be hyper from hiking and being in a new place, so you have to make sure they can move around freely. You can even get dog sleeping bags so your furry friend can snuggle up next to you!
Pack More Water Than You Need
Water is the most essential item you can bring while hiking with your dog. Remember, not all water sources on the trail or in the woods is safe to drink – this goes for your four-legged friend as well. A good rule of thumb is to pack double what you think you need.
Here Are a Few Items You Should Bring
Dog Harness – Amazon.com
Keeping your dog safe from harm and away from other hikers is going to be your number one concern. The best way to do this is to secure them with a dog harness that fits properly and is comfortable for them. Personally, I prefer a dog harness versus a collar for my hiking buddy because it gives you more control and doesn’t tug at their neck the same way. You may need to pull them away from a dangerous animal such as a snake or other dog and a dog harness provides more security and comfort. Quality dog harnesses give you more control over your dog and reduces pressure on their necks. You can also purchase a dog harness with reflective markings to make your pup more visible while walking.
Dog Bowl – Yeti.com
While you can always find a lightweight option, I personally love the Yeti dog bowls. My first thought when I saw these was that it was just an unnecessary expense, but have grown to love this dog bowl. While it may not be insulated, it’s made with double-wall stainless steel which makes it last an incredibly long time. It’s a great choice no matter the breed of your dog. You can even throw it in the dishwasher for cleaning.
Dog Sleeping Bag – Amazon.com
Comfort is key when choosing the right sleeping bag for yourself and your pup deserves the same attention to detail. A dog sleeping bag will encourage them to rest for the night instead of pacing back and forth in the tent. New places and new scents can make your dog anxious, so getting them their own items can make them feel more at home. The Ruffwear Highlands Dog Sleeping Bag is one of the best I’ve seen for hiking and camping trips.
Dog Backpack – Amazon.com
Give your little guy or gal a job and let them carry their own hiking gear. Dogs love these and it gives them a sense of duty while carrying their pack. They can even carry their own water and snacks in this cool little dog hiking backpack. I personally like the Excellent Elite Spanker dog backpack because it’s made tough enough for the trail with plenty of pockets and storage space. You can even store your keys and cell phone in the pouches if you don’t have room in your pockets.