We have two dogs, Ripley a three year old German Shepherd (the Trail Doggo) and Lilly a six year old Siberian Husky. We love hiking with our dogs but there are a few things we have learned that can make the experience a lot more enjoyable. So here are some tips for hiking with dogs.
Similar to how we organize all of gear, you can read about How I Organize my Hiking Gear here, we have a Magpul Daka Pouch full of dog specific gear that we bring along with us anytime we take one or both of the dogs with us on a hike.
Gear You really don’t need a bunch of extra stuff to take your dog hiking but there are a few useful items and several must haves. First up poop bags. I don’t know if it is just the Trail Doggo or all dogs but someone poops on every hike. So we keep a roll of poop bags on her leash and in our dog hiking bag we carry a second roll so that no matter what we are covered. We also take a large gallon sized ziplock baggie. The purpose of the baggie is to put the poop bags in after they are full of poop. It is just a second layer so that there are no mishaps, that would be a shitty day, and you don’t end up smelling dog poop for the remainder of the hike. After the hike we stuff all of our other trash into the ziplock baggie and toss it.
After poop is covered the next thing is water. We carry a collapsible 400ml Sea to Summit bowl for watering the pups. Usually we just keep the bottom most bit collapsed so that it make the bowl a little wider proportionally to its’ height. Fill it full of water from a water bladder or bottle and the doggos are happy. Then collapse it back and it stows away taking up almost no room.
I also keep a locking carabiner in the bag that I attach to a metal d-ring on the Trail Doggo’s leash. This allows me to clip her to small trees, my pack’s hip belt, or my pants belt if I need to go hands free for a minute. It might not sound like much but the carabiner is extremely useful and they are pretty cheap. A lot of times it is just much easier to get things accomplished with two hands and a dog not tugging on your wrist.
Lastly, we carry a few items specifically for K9 medical care in addition to our normal first aide kit. This includes two soft muzzles and a K9 Quick Reference Guide from Ready Warrior LLC. Most people get kind of weird when you talk about pets and muzzles but they are extremely important for medical care. A soft mesh muzzle allows you to provide first aide treatment to your dog when they are not in their normal state of mind. After a dog sustains an injury they are in pain and might bite their owner especially if you have to cause more pain in the course of treatment. It is best practice for both you and your pet to apply a mesh muzzle prior to providing treatment. And for anyone who is concerned a mesh muzzle that is properly sized for your dog will not restrict breathing at all. There are a couple of circumstances when a muzzle should NOT be applied such as heat related illness so it is important to know some basic first aide for dogs.
The K9 Quick Reference Guide from Ready Warrior LLC is a medical quick reference specially for dogs and it is phenomenal. It covers literally everything related to medical first aide for dogs. It covers the treatment procedures for K9’s similar to TCCC for humans on catastrophic injury as well as treatments for bloat, snake bite, K9 CPR, vitals, and even drug doses for K9s. It is designed for working dogs but the treatment procedures are the same whether it is a police K9 or the Trail Doggo.
Trip Planning In addition to bringing a few items we take a few extra circumstances into account when choosing hikes to take our dogs on. The biggest factors are usually distance and elevation gain. Our Siberian Husky has arthritis so we usually cap any hike for her at about 4 miles. The Trail Doggo has no issues with distance but she is extremely strong and if she is feeling stubborn can unintentionally turn a difficult descent into something that is downright dangerous. So with her we usually try to either go after routes that are flatter or that include a more moderate descent. We also try to avoid large off route sections with either dog. Although we do them from time to time, it can be a pain trying to navigate brush while also keeping your dog going the right direction and not catching their leash on every single little branch.
For any trip that includes the dogs we usually up our water about a liter or so. They can go through a surprising amount of water so bring extra especially in a dry climate such as New Mexico.
Summary That about sums up our dog hiking kit. All of the items I mentioned above are easy to come by online, links to several are below, and can make a hike with your puppies a little more enjoyable and safer. Although it weighs 317g the convenience of having one bag with everything in one place trumps the weight. Not to mention 317g is definitely worth it for the safety of your four legged family member alone.