You’ll find a lot of odd—and kind of ridiculous—stuff among the aisles of toys and training devices for your dog, but there are some pretty useful products out there that actually do help. If you’re an avid hiker who likes to bring Man’s Best Friend along for the ride, check out this gear that might help lighten your buddy’s load.
If you’re the type who likes rough mountain terrain or cold winter hikes, then these might be a necessity. Endurance Booties come with textured soles and breathable fleece fabric to keep your pal comfortable on warm or long hikes. They’ll protect his paws from rocky terrain and ice and—let’s be honest—they look pretty darn cool. You can also get them with reflective strips and Velcro closures if you prefer.
Combo Leash/Waste Bag
It’s important to remember to always pick up after your pet, especially on a hike where anyone could walk by and step into a not-so-nice surprise. That’s why a lot of companies have begun making leashes with attached waste bags. It seems a little gross, but a lot of leashes now have sleeves where you can store little baggies of your dog’s leftovers while you finish your hike. Odd? Maybe. But definitely useful.
Doggie PFDs (Personal Flotation Devices)
Dogs tend to be natural swimmers and if you plan on hiking near areas with rivers and lakes, it might be a good idea to invest in a doggie PFD. They’re basically canine life jackets. There are different models based upon the type of activity your dog will engage in, so make sure you’re choosing one right for your area. There are heavy-duty models for rivers with whitewater environments and lighter ones for stillwater lakes. You’ll also need to test some out to find the right fit.
Hopefully you haven’t been lugging around your dog’s water bowl with you on every hike but, if you have, it’s okay to stop now. There are dozens of collapsible bowls on the market that will fit right into your pack. Simply pull it out, snap it open and dump some water in to give Fido a refresher. They even make water bottles with screw-on lids resembling a water bowel that you can carry with you and, uh, I guess share with your dog?
If there are no ponds or lakes for your dog to cool off in on your hikes, consider buying a cooling collar. Most of them come with a gel insert that you place in the freezer before your hike. When you’re ready to go, just slide it into the sleeve on the collar and it will help keep your dog from overheating in the hot sun. Pretty nifty, right?
Some dogs are trained well enough to go off-leash, but it’d be comforting to know that you could find them if they wondered too far off the path. Enter the beacon leash. The leashes (and collars) have a GPS device embedded inside of them that lets you know where your dog is at all times. One part attaches to you while the other stays on the dog, usually on his collar. That way if you ever get separated you’ll have a beacon that tells you exactly where to find him.
We’re fans of letting our dogs go wild in the water on a long hike or overnight trip, but that kind of makes it difficult to sleep with him in the same tent later in the night. That smell could scare away a skunk. That’s why it might be worth investing in a dog tent. They’re smaller, breathable and make great shelters even in the middle of the day. Even if your pup doesn’t like to sleep by himself at night, at least you can use it to give him a little shade from the sun.
by Ben Kerns