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by Diane Spicer
Do you hike with dogs?
Do you have the best hiking gear for dogs?
One outta two ain't bad!
Keep reading for tips on the gear you can use to keep your trail buddies who just happen to be dogs not only safe and comfy, but well behaved in human and animal trail traffic.
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It's up to you to navigate safely, and to train your dog(s) for safe water crossings, proper pacing through uneven terrain, and to respond immediately - every time - to voice commands when trail hazards appear.
But there is technology to make hiking as safe as possible for dogs.
Let's start with a quick look at inexpensive layers of protection you can provide for your best trail buddy.
You stuff your feet into rugged trail footwear.
Kinda vulnerable to cuts, abrasions, splinters, jagged rocks - ouch!
Apply an impermeable layer of this paw protective wax, be sure to distract her while it dries (no licking!), and know that she has a barrier against cold, wet, icy, hot, sandy or sharp trail hazards.
You should also protect delicate tissues like her nose and tender paw pads, especially early in the hiking season.
And yes, just in case you're wondering, dog sunscreen is a real thing.
If you're going to allow off leash exploration, make your hiking dog find-able with a Ruffwear rechargeable safety light you can clip on her collar.
Even if you're a dedicated day hiker, there will be dimly lit rocky overhangs, dense thickets of brush, or longer than expected days on the trail when knowing your dog is wearing this light to easily catch your eye will prevent mishaps.
Another way to keep your dog visible: a Nite Ize Nitehowl LED safety necklace.
The decision to purchase a doggie backpack might be easy to make if your dog needs a lot of food, water or other supplies on a backpacking trip.
Your hiking backpack was chosen with not only volume, but comfort and versatility in mind.
Same idea here.
You already know about the hiking ten essentials for yourself, but you can modify the list quite easily to safeguard the well being of your hiking dog:
An important way to make sure your dog is comfortable during a long hike is to keep her well hydrated.
Some dogs refuse to drink from a source of flowing water (don't ask me, I don't get it either), so bringing along a collapsible dog bowl which you can fill from a water bottle is a must.
This bright bowl (easy to locate in the depths of your backpack or tent) folds flat, clips to your backpack, and pops up to create a dog sized drinking spot.
Great to stash in the car, too
A hiking fact of life:
Your dog is much closer to the hot trail than you are!
Here's a way to keep your dog chill on a hot hiking day: a canine cooling bandana.
You may not think of it this way, but your dog is your ambassador on a hiking trail, especially if you're in an area which allows off leash hiking.
Your dog is probably going to encounter other humans, animals, birds and reptiles several minutes before you do.
Do you want to be the hiker who receives an angry outburst when your dog jumps up with muddy paws on a stranger?
Or watch your trail buddy go off a ledge while chasing a deer?
Yeah, I didn't think so.
Here are a few strategies for being able to quickly secure your dog to your backpack or waist when you allow her to be off leash.
You work up a sweat on the trail, and you have the benefit of sweat glands all over your body.
You can be a good trail buddy by making him more comfortable on leash with a breathable, soft air mesh vest with a D ring to quickly accept the leash clip, like this one.
A hands free hiking dog leash like this one has many advantages:
Because you are a conscientious dog owner, you'll be carrying an inexpensive but well stocked first aid kit that includes some remedies for the maladies which dogs are prone to on their feet: blisters, cuts, splinters or abraded paw pads.
And you'll be prepared to remove burrs and ticks safely with a dog medical kit like this one:
You can also have your dog carry this kit in her backpack, because it weighs almost nothing.
Double bag it in plastic, though. Dogs have never met a mud puddle they didn't like!
Trail fun = treats!
Trail treats aren't just for humans anymore.
These are some mighty tasty (judging by the reactions they provoke) dog treats, and they're loaded with nutrients rather than fillers and artificial colors.
Snugly - but comfortably - mount a camera to your dog's harness and see what her idea of a good hike looks like - literally!
Happy canine trails to you!
Best Hiking Gear For Dogs
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