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We’re hitting the road and taking our furry friends with us on our excursions. But when you explore the rugged outdoors with your dog in tow, keep their needs in mind. We’ve got the dog hiking gear and goods you need to have a happy four-legged hiker.
Our Ultimate Dog Hiking Gear Guide
From booties to backpacks, it’s all here in the ultimate dog hiking gear guide.
Protect Those Paws
Although your doggy’s calloused paw pads can handle a stroll on the sidewalk or beach, rocky and rugged terrain is another story. Paw pads aren’t shoes, after all. You can protect those paw pads with dog hiking boots, great gear for hot and cold weather.
“Not only will it protect their paws in rugged terrain, it can also help with hot asphalt on a warm day,” California dog trainer Beverly Ulbrich adds. “And shoes will even protect from broken glass in city streets.”
One of the highest-rated lines is Ruffwear Grip Trex (above), which makes a range of paw protection gear for all weather conditions and hiking terrains. The rugged outsole can hold up to wear and tear and the breathable mesh keeps dirt and bugs out while keeping your dog comfy.
Every dog is different, so you’ll need to find the right paw fit. Measure your dog by marking from heel to nail and side to side to find your dog’s size. There may be some trial and error, so make sure you can exchange your items if they don’t fit properly. For most dogs, putting shoes on for the first time will be a little uncomfortable.
“The main thing would be to get them used to it because a lot of dogs might find it strange to not have the feeling of their paw pads on the ground,” Ulbrich explains. “They will feel like they don’t actually have good footing. They have to learn to trust the shoe and trust the traction of it.”
You’ll have to ease your dog into wearing the shoes, but once used to them, they shouldn’t mind them at all. In fact, your pooch might get excited when you pull them out, knowing a trip is, ahem, afoot.
We’ve got the lowdown on more dog bootie options right here.
If your sun-loving hiking adventure dog is starting to show signs of dry dog skin or cracked sand burned paw pads, check out our favorite treatments for dry dog skin, including butters, salves, and oils that will have your pup trekking along happily in no time.
Gear Up and Carry Supplies
While you’re trekking through nature, you’ll need water, snacks, and other dog hiking gear and supplies. Also consider a canine first-aid kit, as well as a pack (for both you and your dog).
These dog backpacks are typically padded for comfort and moisture-resistant. Just make sure not to weigh your dog down too much.
Some packs, such as the Ruffwear Approach Dog Pack (below), come with reflective strips so you can easily spot your dog in low visibility in the wilderness.
Don’t forget the dog hiking gear basics: a good outdoor leash and collar. We review some of the best in the videos below.
For more details on these collars, check out The Top 3 Outdoor Collars Reviewed.
Find more details on these leashes in The Top 3 Hiking Leashes for Dogs Reviewed.
Strap ’Em On
Want to take your dog hiking but not sure they can physically handle the trip? No problem—there’s gear for carrying them.
When you’re carrying your dog in a backpack, make sure they’re secure and cannot jump out or wriggle free, which can cause serious injury to both you and your pup! Be wary that carrying your furry friend like this can put quite a bit of strain on your back, and “consider if your dog is comfortable, too,” Ulbrich says. “The packs where they are lying down aren’t contorting them as much and are more comfortable for the dog.”
If you’re both uncomfortable, it’s worth reconsidering the idea of hiking with your dog in this way. Sometimes it’s better to leave the pupper at home or camp with a friend while you blaze a trail solo.
What Other Dog Hiking Gear Should You Bring?
Hikers and backpackers who like to adventure with their dogs are likely familiar with some of these dog hiking gear essentials. When heading out, you’ll also want to remember:
If your dog will be swimming, consider a waterproof and, more importantly, stink-proof collar. And even if your dog is an experienced swimmer, it’s a safe bet to get them personal flotation gear, especially in a river where currents can be deceiving.
If the weather is going to be especially hot on your hike, remember your dog is wearing a fur coat. First off, brush up on what dog heatstroke is, and how to prevent it, as well as tips for keeping your pet cool and hydrated.
Another bit of hiking gear to consider: a cooling vest. Drop it in water, wring it out, and fasten it on your furry friend for instant heat relief. However, you don’t have to use specialized gear to help your dog cool off.
“If you don’t have access to cooling vests, you can just wet their fur as needed,” Ulbrich adds.
Dogs love spending time outdoors. But when you go off-road on hiking adventures, make sure you’ve got the gear to keep your furry friends safe, cool, hydrated, and happy!