Our dogs are living beings that are better equipped than we are for the outdoors.
Their fur seems to do a better job keeping them warm in the cold and not too warm in the heat. Their claws and four feet give them amazing traction and balance. Their senses, sight, smell and hearing are much finer, meaning they are advance alarms of others approaching, human or animal.
But just like us, they need to hydrate, they need some food sustenance, and they are subject to burrs, to Giardia in bad stream water and they can instinctively chase after animals they shouldn’t.
Bring something into which you can pour water from your bladder hose. There are foldable pouches for this use, but I prefer a hard plastic cup you can hang on your pack with a carabiner. This provides easy access (no need to remove your pack) and it’s easy to hold for your dog if you are on rocky or steep areas where you can’t put it down on the ground. See Dexas Popware for Pets Collapsible Travel Cup with Carabiner. Offer water to your dog every hour in hot weather and adjust intervals depending on whether they are drinking a lot or not.
I don’t want my dog drinking from streams without filtering. Giardia hits dogs as well as people. Bring enough water for both of you.
I like to bring two leashes, a short one (4 – 6 feet) and a 16-foot Flexi-leash. See Flexi Comfort Retractable Tape Dog Leash. If you are in an area where your dog needs to be on leash, it will be vastly easier with a Flexi-leash clipped on your belt or pack strap with a carabiner so you don’t have to hold it. This leaves your hands free for hiking polls and for accessing your pack. The take-up spring in the Flexi-leash will take care of keeping the leash untangled while allowing your dog to jump rocks, roam a bit, stop and tinkle without yanking on a short leash, and stop and sniff all the curiosities along the way.
However, be aware that there is a lot of controversy about retractable leashes. There are some places where there is a regulation that leashes be no longer than six feet. Apparently, some people using them have been careless, causing injuries from the wire tangling around someone. Retractable leashes have their fans, including me, but also have their haters. You can lock a retractable leash at any length, so perhaps when someone is approaching on a trail, shorten the leash until they pass or don’t use one.
The short leash is for tight situations, other dogs or animals approaching, or even other people showing a fear of dogs – they do exist. They also can be used where there are short-leash laws.
Wearing a colored vest or jacket may be more important for smaller dogs that are more difficult to spot at a distance, but I would argue that it is a good idea even for larger dogs if you are hiking in an area where there might be hunters afoot. When I first started using one, there was another unexpected benefit. When that vest went on Emme she acted like she knew she had her official hiking uniform on and that there was adventure ahead. She was proud of that vest and would stand stone-still while I clipped it on her, and as soon as the last clip snapped, she would jump around with great excitement. If there were other dogs in the house, she would prance around showing off her vest – she knew she was special! See Vert™ Jacket.
I guess I could say all you need is pliers, but the most compact way to have one is to bring along a multi-tool that has folding pliers within. Why? There are porcupines around in many locations and if your dog goes after one, it will get stuck with barbs. It is much more effective to remove them with pliers than your fingers. There will be a future blog post with tips on how to do it.
After a few hikes, you will know what else you might need for your dog. For fur that picks up burrs, bring along a comb or brush to remove the bothersome ones. You may have special treats that your dog is trained to want that might help you retrieve your pet from a distraction which could be another dog or wild animal.
A hike with your dog is more fun when you have the right equipment!