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5 Essentials for Hiking with your Dog

I love hiking.  Especially on mountain trails that lead to gorgeous views.

After I adopted Jackie, I started walking, exploring, and hiking way more.  I even started traveling across the state to see new places in North Carolina.  I’ve got a bit of experience when it comes to hiking with my pup, and I’ve collected a list of 5 essentials you need to gather before heading out.

*disclaimer: Jackie is just over a year old, so we haven’t been camping overnight or hiking extreme trails just yet.  This list is for up to about 5 miles of mild weather walking on well beaten paths.

1. Harness

This list is probably looking pretty common sense to those of you who are experienced dog owners, but I want to make sure to be thorough.  I started walking Jackie on a collar and leash when I first got her and quickly realized that it might be a good idea to get a harness.

A harness is much more comfortable (and plain old less dangerous) to your dog, especially when it comes to climbing mountains and jogging through the woods.  Also, if you’ve got a big dog who is pretty reactive, you will appreciate that extra control if she gets frightened or excited.

My suggestion would be to bring your dog into the store to fit her for the harness (it should fit like a collar with room for a couple of your fingers at any point), and make sure it has a reliable loop for a leash or lead.  There are some pretty cool harnesses with setups for a dog pack if you want your pooch to share the load.

2. Lead

Now, the lead for your dog is a crucial part to your whole hiking system.  I’ve got some rules you need to follow as far as leashes and leads go.  first of all, DO NOT go hiking with your dog on a retractable leash.  These are dangerous to you and the dog for many reasons you can read about by clicking here.

Also, a good thing to remember when getting a lead is how far you want your pup from you.  Some parks and trails have rules about the length of leashes, and most require your dog to be on a leash at all times.  Jackie has a 2 foot leash.  Yup, the smallest they had.  My goal was to train Jackie to walk alongside me, and since she is tall enough for my hand to reach her back, 2 feet was enough of a length for both of us to be comfortable.

I recommend getting a sturdy leash that’s either an inch in width or a woven rope.  A loop worked in at the end of the leash is best for making sure you maintain control.  Make sure you are as comfortable as possible with your dog at full length and as close as possible to you (no one wants to be tripped up).  There are some neat waist leashes for people who want to be hands free, but choose one with good elasticity so you won’t be knocked down and drug off if your dog takes off running.

Check out this para-cord leash I made the other day on my studio site.

3. Water

This is a necessity for you and your dog.  It surprised me how much Jackie wanted to drink the first time I took her on a hike.  Make sure you pack enough extra water as if you’re packing for another person.  Don’t underestimate how hard your dog is working to keep up with (or stay ahead of) you.

Also, an important note is to look up the water info on the place you’ll be hiking.  I used to think that letting Jackie drink from the creeks running down the side of the trails were perfectly fine, but you may in an area where they’ve had some issues with contamination.  You don’t want to bring home an exhausted, vomiting dog.  Just saying.

4. Collapsible water bowl

I didn’t think I’d ever be as grateful as I am for this invention.  A collapsible water bowl is key to a hassle free water break on your hike.  I like thee fabric ones that can fold any which way and can hold water or food.  You can also find silicone bowls that snap into place and containers especially made for holding both water and food at once.  Pick something that fits in your day pack.

5. A Plan

All is well until you actually step onto the trail and realize you have no idea what you’re doing.  As an amateur adventurer myself, I always make sure to research the trail I’ll be on to prevent any ridiculous situations.  First, you may want to know where you’re going.  So, that means a map to get a good idea of the distance you’ll be traveling and the kind of terrain you’ll cover.

It’s also really nice if you go with someone who’s been there before.  If not to get some guidance while traveling the trail for the first time, it’s cool to know where the good photo spots are.


I hope you liked my little essentials guide! Have fun!!

Filed under: dog

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