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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 his needs in mind. We’ve got the gear and the goods you need to have a happy four-legged hiker.
Protect Those Paws
Although your dog’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. Protect those paw pads with doggy hiking boots. They’re great for cold or hot 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 Trex by Ruffwear, which makes a range of paw protectors for all weather conditions and 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 fit for his paws. Measure by marking from heel to nail and side to side to find your dog’s LxW 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 he is used to them, he shouldn’t mind them at all. In fact, he’ll probably get excited when you pull out his shoes, knowing he’s going on a trip.
We’ve got the lowdown on even more dog booty options right here.
While you’re trekking through nature, you’ll need water, snacks, and other supplies-also consider a canine first-aid kit. You can carry a hiking pack for convenience, but so can your dog.
These doggy backpacks strap around his back and are typically padded for comfort and are moisture resistant. Just make sure not to weigh your dog down too much.
Some packs, like Ruffwear, come with reflective strips so you can easily spot your dog in low visibility in the wilderness. Ruffwear Approach Dog Pack retails for $80 and is available at Amazon
Here are some cute dogs in backpacks just to brighten your day.
Want to take your dog on your hike but aren’t sure he can physically handle the trip? No problem—just carry him.
You can carry him Baby Bjorn-style across the front of your chest, in a backpack-type carrier, or even in a sling. But there’s a caveat: small dogs only. Most products suggest using these packs only with small tea-cup breeds under 10 pounds; some even list a maximum weight of 20 pounds.
Make sure your dog is secure and cannot jump out if you choose this method. Also be wary that carrying your furry friend like this can put quite a bit of strain on your back and might be more suitable for more leisurely walks or hikes.
“Also consider if your dog is comfortable,” Ulbrich suggests. “The packs where they are lying down aren’t contorting them as much and are more comfortable for the dog.”
We’ve got the lowdown on even more dog carriers here.
If your dog will be going for a swim, 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 him a personal flotation device, especially in a river where currents can be deceiving.
And if the weather is going to be especially hot on your hike, remember your dog is wearing a fur coat. Keep him comfortable with a cooling vest—drop the vest in water, wring it out, and fasten it on your dog for instant relief from the heat. But you don’t have to go high-tech 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.
The Bottom Line
Dogs love spending time outdoors. But when you go off-road, consult the dog hiking gear guide to make sure you’ve got the gear to keep your furry friends safe and hydrated on your trip.