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Springing Into Gear: Dog Hiking Gear for a Safe Trek

Bye-bye winter blues. Spring is officially here! Even though Punxsutawney Phil might disagree. Springtime means one thing in many places: the hiking season has begun! It’s time to spring into gear and ensure that you and your canine hiking companion have the dog hiking gear necessary for a safe adventure.

Whether you and your pup are headed to a national park, the woods in your neighborhood, backcountry, or a lake-side spot, drinking water isn’t the only essential you need to take with you when hitting the hiking trails. 

In this post, we’ll tackle everything on your outdoor adventure checklist from first aid kits to poop bags.

girl hiking with dogs

First thing’s first: Respect the rules, respect the environment.

Remember that when it comes to hiking with dogs, be respectful of state park laws. Check the rules ahead of time to find out if that park has dog-friendly trails, if your dog needs to remain leashed, as well as basic trail etiquette. 

National park websites will usually list what wild animals you could run into (remember: coyotes are not playmates for your dog) and where you can find water sources. Always make sure your dog is up-to-date on their vaccinations.

Once you’ve taken those preventative measures, it’s time to go out and have some fun in nature! And don’t forget to clean up dog poop! Respect the environment and be sure to leave no trace of your dog’s waste or discarded food.

Layer Up

durango dog coat for hiking with your dog

Getting an early start? If you’re one of those hikers who like to get going before sunrise to beat the crowds, it’s going to be chilly out there! Your furry friend will need a dog coat.

You and your dog (especially small dogs with thin coats) will want light layers to keep you warm until the sun comes up and your heart rate gets going.

Your best friend can help carry the load!

dog wearing a backpack for dogs outward hound

Why should you do all the heavy lifting when you can get a dog backpack for Fido? Hiking with your dog has a new meaning with the Outward Hound DayPak. This saddle bag works great for active dogs and their humans that love day hikes.

The breathable mesh within the backpack keeps dogs cool on sunny days. The high visibility green and blue color options look awesome and have the added bonus of allowing your dog to be easily spotted on the trail if they go off-leash. 

Large expandable pockets on the dog pack help hold all the essentials so your dog can carry their own collapsible dog bowl (bpa free), dog food, dog treats, and drinking water for hydration. D-rings for clipping on a dog leash attachment or carabiners also assist with leading or following while keeping a secure handle on your pup.

With a doggie backpacking with you, a true adventure can begin! Just remember to keep Fido’s load balanced and the buckles adjusted for their size. 

Bring the right pawtection

dog on beach wearing dawson dog life jacket

Going for a particularly long hike? Your dog’s paws will need protection if they’re going to spend all that time on rough terrain. 

Consider dog booties, like Ruffwear’s Grip Trex, that will protect their paw pads from hot asphalt, sharp rubble, or ice. If you don’t have booties for paw protection, dog owners should add an effective paw balm to their first aid kit in case of a boo-boo.

Speaking of protection, bring a dog life jacket along for your furry friend if there’s a swimming hole at your destination. Depending on the depth of the water a lifejacket is an important safety consideration. 

According to VetMD, a dog-adapted safety vest is the best way to prevent drowning, which can happen to any dog regardless of size.

Best dog toys for adventures in nature

dog with earth ball

Experienced pet parents know how dog energy levels can fluctuate. Even after hikes, dogs will somehow still have energy! Bringing along some compact, lightweight outdoor toys will allow your pooch to have the maximum amount of fun. 

Since you’ll be out in nature with a nearly unlimited amount of play space, the Planet Ball is perfect to bring to go hiking with your dog.

Playing in the water? Planet Dog toys float! The vivid coloring prevents it from getting lost in the wilderness or sinking to the depths of a lake.

Dog hiking gear list

hiking with dogs checklist

Here is a list of some of the best hiking gear you and your dog might need for a long trek:

  • Packable water bowl (don’t bother trying to carry a bulky stainless steel one around)
  • Dog first aid kit
  • Layers for cooler weather
  • Cooling vest for hot climates
  • Dog collar
  • Dog leash/hands-free leash with bungee cord
  • Waste bags
  • ​Kibble and/or dog treats
  • Dog boots or paw balm
  • Dog harness
  • ID tags
  • Dog water bottle
  • Dog-safe sunscreen
  • Water-resistant dog pack
  • Dog goggles

Together, and with proper dog safety gear, you and your pup will have the best hikes of your life!

dog hiking gear

Editor’s note: This post has been updated as of February 2022 to reflect the most pup-to-date information.