Hik­ing With Your Dog

Tips and gear to help you make the most of the great out­doors


Tips and gear to help you make the most of the great out­doors!

When I'm pre­par­ing to go on a hike, my ca­nine com­pan­ions are al­ways at my side, ready for an ad­ven­ture. While I slip into worn hik­ing shoes and pack enough wa­ter for the trek, my dogs Cal­listo and Asta watch me with tails wag­ging, all ea­ger an­tic­i­pa­tion.

I love hit­ting the trails with my two stal­wart part­ners. Hik­ing with your dog is of­ten safer than hik­ing on your own, and it gives your dog some re­ally great na­ture time. The un­even ter­rain also works dif­fer­ent mus­cles than a nor­mal walk, help­ing keep you and your dogs fit and young. But the dogs, just like me, need to be pre­pared.

There are a num­ber of things to keep in mind when un­der­tak­ing day hikes with your dogs.

First and most im­por­tantly, a good leash is an ab­so­lute ne­ces­sity. Many trails and hik­ing routes will let you bring a dog (ex­clud­ing some Na­tional and Pro­vin­cial Parks—check first), but a lot of them re­quire your dog be leashed. Any sort of choke leash should be avoided on hikes (as well as just gen­er­ally). I like the hands-free ad­justable Hurtta Free Hand Leash with shock ab­sorber. It eas­ily ad­justs for length and the lovely padded han­dle makes for a snug, se­cure, and com­fort­able grip (hurtta247.com). Or try Hund's Baldy, a con­vert­ible shock­ab­sorb­ing leash (hund­den­mark.com). It's five leashes in one! Shorten it up, leave it long, or wear it around your body for a hands-free leash­ing op­tion. It also al­lows you to con­nect two dogs, plus you can loop it around a tree and hook it to it­self, all with­out un­clip­ping from your dog's col­lar, and it comes in awesome colours!

A har­ness is also a great in­vest­ment. It’s more com­fort­able for your dog and pro­tects your dog’s neck. If you're do­ing a tech­ni­cally dif­fi­cult hike, a har­ness ver­sus a col­lar is par­tic­u­larly rec­om­mended. The weight dis­tri­bu­tion of a har­ness makes it safer and all around more com­fort­able for your pup.

Hurtta's Ac­tive Har­ness is a Mod­ern Dog favourite (hurtta247. com). Sturdy and ad­justable, it has a padded chest strap to en­sure a com­fort­able fit, a han­dle on the back for bet­ter con­trol of your dog in dif­fi­cult places, plus 3M re­flec­tors to im­prove vis­i­bil­ity in the dark!

It's im­por­tant to note that even in the sum­mer, the weather is very change­able in the moun­tains. Pack your dog gear ac­cord­ingly. If it's a hot day, your dog might need a cooling vest or ban­dana, such as those made by CoolAid (From $19, coolaid.com). Just wet with wa­ter, wring, and shake, and the patented, chem­i­cal-free, thermo-reg­u­lat­ing fab­ric starts to cool! I live in the Pa­cific North­west, so I never leave the house with­out Cal­listo and Asta's rain jack­ets in my hik­ing pack. The Buster rain coat from Kru­use ($22, kru­use247.com) is great in wet and muddy con­di­tions. The wind­proof and wa­ter­proof ma­te­rial is durable and breath­able with an ad­justable neck, so your dog won’t feel too re­stricted. The easy-on de­sign also means there is less of a strug­gle when get­ting your dog suited up.

I also al­ways bring a pair of dog boots. Al­though these get the most use in the win­ter, Asta has sen­si­tive paws, and when she once cut her paw on rocky ter­rain, I was very grate­ful I brought those boots along! The added pro­tec­tion meant she could fin­ish the hike with­out me hav­ing to carry her. Highly rec­om­mended are Mut­tluk’s Mud Mon­sters rugged sum­mer dog boots ($44 for two boots, mut­tluks.ca). These com­fort­able boots are de­signed for tough ter­rain and fea­ture breath­able mesh up­pers and an easy-to-put-on de­sign that stays on, pro­tect­ing paws! If your dog has sen­si­tive feet or an in­jury, try Woodrow Wear’s Power Paws Re­in­forced Foot Socks ($30 for 4 socks, woodrowwear.com), suit­able for use both in­doors and out. On hikes they pro­tect against heat, snow, al­ler­gens, ir­ri­tants like ice and salt, and sharp rocks. If your dog has an in­jured paw they’re great for cov­er­ing a wound or ban­dag­ing. There’s even a spe­cial model de­signed es­pe­cially for Grey­hound feet!

Cal­listo and Asta get very ex­cited ev­ery time we stop: it's wa­ter time. Dexas' Snack-Duo has made my life sig­nif­i­cantly eas­ier as I am now able to keep both wa­ter and food in the same con­tainer. They also make a nifty col­lapsi­ble wa­ter bowl that hand­ily at­taches to your day­pack via the at­tached cara­bi­neer. I make sure I stop at least once ev­ery hour for a drink, and more fre­quently on a hot day!

If you're hik­ing for a full day, you should def­i­nitely bring some snacks for your dog as well as for your­self. Rayne makes a great Kan­ga­roo Jerky ($7, raynecanada.ca) that all dogs go crazy for! Since kan­ga­roo is a great source of pro­tein and nu­tri­ents, it will keep your dog fu­elled up and ready to go. It’s a per­fect trail snack. If your dog needs a lot of in­cen­tive along the way, bring along some small treats you can of­fer fre­quently to tempt them. My dogs will do any­thing, even cross a creek, for salmon and cod flavoured Car­ni­vore Crunch Treats ($10,stel­laand­chewys.com). Or make your own trail mix for your dogs and keep it in a treat pouch or bag­gie. Find Mod­ern Dog's DIY recipe for Rex’s Terrific Trail Mix at mod­ern­dog­magazine.com/terrific-trail-mix. It's healthy, dog­gone tasty, and made of left­overs!

You’ll also want to make sure you have a good first aid kit. If your dog has an al­ler­gies (for ex­am­ple, to bee stings) bring that med­i­ca­tion as well. "Be pre­pared" is the Scout’s motto for a rea­son! Be­ing caught with­out any emer­gency sup­plies while off the grid is any­one’s night­mare. Thank­fully On The Road Pet has

a com­pre­hen­sive safety kit for dogs that truly has you cov­ered— they've thought of ev­ery­thing so you don't have to. Carry the thought­fully equipped Day­hiker pack ($50, on­theroad­pet.com) so you are pre­pared in the case of any emer­gency, or, if you're not ven­tur­ing too far, leave the pack in your trunk and just bring the small vet­eri­nar­ian-de­signed first aid kit it con­tains so you can take care of any in­juries, like a cut paw, while on the trails.

Many peo­ple who hike with their pups let them carry some things in a dog ruck­sack. Gen­er­ally, young, healthy dogs can carry up to 25 per­cent of their weight, though this amount def­i­nitely varies ac­cord­ing to breed and age. Start out with a light pack and go from there. Also make sure the back­pack is well bal­anced and sits com­fort­ably on your dog’s back. Get your dog used to wear­ing her back­pack be­fore set­ting out on a long hike. Cal­listo wore her back­pack on nor­mal walks for a cou­ple of weeks be­fore we tested it on a hike! We re­ally like Hurtta’s tech­ni­cal back­packs. Their Trail Pack—a back­pack and har­ness combo— re­mains in po­si­tion when your dog moves and is ad­justable to fit your dog com­fort­ably so he can carry his own gear ($100, hurtta247.com). It also fea­tures a han­dle on the back that of­fers ex­tra con­trol when needed!

The is­sue of dog poop is also some­thing to con­sider while hik­ing. You don't want to be the per­son who doesn't dis­pose of dog waste, but car­ry­ing a full poop bag up and down the moun­tain kind of ru­ins the ex­pe­ri­ence, plus it def­i­nitely gets in the way of ex­pe­ri­enc­ing that fresh moun­tain air. If you're on a day hike, I rec­om­mend a dog waste bag such as Tur­dle­bag ($20, tur­dle­bag.com), where you can store your dog's waste and feel si­mul­ta­ne­ously en­vi­ron­men­tally re­spon­si­ble and un­en­cum­bered by stinky dog poop. If you're do­ing a multi-day back­pack­ing ex­cur­sion with your dog, camp­ing along the way, make sure you dis­pose of your dog's waste as you would of your own; bury it at least 200 feet away from trails, camps, and wa­ter sources.

Lastly, it's im­por­tant to re­mem­ber bear and wildlife safety! This is one of the main rea­sons that you should al­ways keep your dog on leash. While bear at­tacks are un­likely and rare, a three-year study of 92 at­tacks in North Amer­ica showed fully half of them in­volved a dog that was off leash. If you can't de­pend on your dog to stay calm and lis­ten to ver­bal com­mands in an emer­gency, a leash is best. (Note that this is al­most all dogs; even the best be­haved dogs are un­pre­dictable in such sit­u­a­tions.)

Now get out there and en­joy your­selves!

Hurtta leash & har­ness

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