I think it is officially officially summer... finally. That means grilling, swimming, and most importantly, spending time outdoors. Living in little Lexington, there isn't much to do. Once the colleges are out for summer, the town's population basically shrinks by 75%. Even the professors leave town! Without all those people to serve, a lot of the restaurants will close for weeks, and sometimes even months, at a time. Luckily, the one thing that there is an abundance of is outdoor activities.
Dixie is at her happiest outside. I wish I could get her to like swimming, but unless she can stand in the water, she won't go near it. What Dixie does love is walking, and the more rural and wild the trail, the better. She doesn't want to walk on a sidewalk, a well maintained wooded pathway is okay, but a trail where she has to climb up rocks and jump over trees- perfect. As Dixie and I have gotten into better shape, the hikes have gotten longer and tougher, and Dixie has accumulated quite a bit of gear. After trying out a lot of different products, over packing for hikes and forgetting things we definitely needed, Dixie and I have narrowed our hiking gear down to 13 products!
So here is my favorite gear for hiking with your dog!
This is great harness for every-day walks, more difficult hikes, or just driving around with your pup. It has a large padded chest plate and a top strap to let you pull your dog over a log, on top a rock, or out of the water. There is a no-jingle back D-Ring, but if your dog is pulling you along the trail, there is a no-pull halt ring on the front chest plate. It's perfect for hikes with steep climbs and rugged terrain.
For hikes that have clear and even paths, I use this harness from PetCo. It's durable, easy to get on, and comfortable. For overnight hikes and camping trips, this is a good harness to switch to overnight and while at your campsite. Dixie has absolutely no issue sleeping in this harness.
This is a great leash that can withstand some wear and tear. It's inspired by rock climbing and uses strong, reflective kernmantle rope and a locking carabiner. Your pup won't be going anywhere you don't want him to with this leash. It also has an accessory loop that you can use to hold poop bags or clip-on items like treat pouches.
Sometimes your hands need to be free when hiking. This hands free leash has a built in bungee to absorb the shock of any sudden jerks your dog makes. It's also a shorter 4 ft leash to keep your dog close. There are also handles on each side of the leash in case you want to unhook it from the belt and use it as a standard leash. You can also use my tutorial here and make your own hands free leash!
I used to have a rubber bowl that collapsed like this option, but Dixie ate that and we moved on to this one. Six months later, she still has been unable to destroy it. Unlike other fabric bowls, this one is ultra-durable, has a flat bottom, and a stable shape. It's also waterproof and can hold 60 fl oz when fully popped open. It collapses flat for easy packing, but it can also be clipped to your pack or your dogs harness.
This bottle actually contains two 12 oz watertight chambers in one bottle. Fill one chamber with a drink for you and the other with water for your dog and off you go! The attached bowl holds one cup of food or water. It's also all dishwasher friendly. The only drawback is that 12 oz of water(or 24 oz if you use both chambers) may not be enough for your pup on a long hike, so you could still wind up carrying extra waterbottles.
Wet food is great way to keep your dog energized on hikes. When Dixie is tired and thirsty, she doesn't want to munch on hard, dry food. Wet food is a good alternative because it is packed with liquid (or in the case of this food, Savory Sauce), which can help rehydrate your pup. If your dog has a sensitive tummy, look to see if your dog food brand makes a wet version of your dog's regular dry food. This recipe would be great for dogs who eat Blue Buffalo Basics Turkey Recipe.
Another reason I prefer wet food on hikes is because they come packaged in easy 3 oz servings so you don't need to pack an extra bowl! Dixie loves devouring her food right from the plastic cup it is packaged in. This is a great meal to take on hikes because it is packed full of protein that will keep your dog full and energetic! This meal isn't packed with liquid or sauce, but chicken broth is the second ingredient so they are still getting a little hydration!
Dogs' paw pads are extremely sensitive and can become dry and painful through contact with harsh surfaces like ice, salt, sand, and rough or hot surfaces. Paw Soother helps deeply heal, moisturize, and nourish paw pads to make them soft and smooth again. But before your pup is in pain, you can use PawTector to prevent their paw pads from drying out. It's perfect for use before walks on city sidewalks or long hikes on uneven or rocky terrain. PawTector creates a nourishing barrier between damaging surfaces and your pup's paw pads to keep them soft and smooth. Both products are organic, vegan, 100% natural, and perfect for the dog that already lives better than you do.
When the terrain is too extreme or the hike it too long, your dog's paws may need a little extra help. These high-performance boots have a resilient Vibram outsole for exceptional traction (no slipping!) and breathable air mesh that keeps dirt and debris out. The secure closure system keeps boots in place but they are still easy to put on the squirmiest pup. Lastly, they have a reflective trim for visibility in low light!
You may never need to use it, but it's important to have in case of any little bumps, scratches, or serious injuries. This kit can be used for human or pet first aid and includes a Walks'n'Wags pet first aid pamphlet, 1 latex free exam gloves, 1 first aid tape, 3 gauze pads, 1 gauze bandage roll, 4 antiseptic wipes, 2 patch adhesive bandages,nand 1 elastic bandage. It all comes in one compact case that easily attaches to your leash or pack.
This 16-piece kit contains all the essential first aid supplies that you may need if your pet needs first aid attention, although there are still more exhaustive first-aid kits for sale. This kit contains 1 triangular bandage to use as sling to take weight off of injured limb, 1 PBT elastic bandage, 1 depressing bandage, 1 sterile gauze pad, medical tape, 1 sting relief pad, 1 antiseptic cleansing wipe, antibiotic ointment, cotton buds, 1 wooden tongue depressor, scissors for trimming hair around wound and cutting gauze & bandages, tweezers, 1 set of PVC gloves, styptic powder for use on nail wounds to deter bleeding, 1 instant ice pack, and 1 emergency blanket.
I bought this primarily as a cycling backpack, but Osprey offers plenty of packs for hiking/cycling or just hiking. I like the VERVE 9 because of its breathable mesh straps and back panel and 2.5 L reservoir. It also has just enough storage for the things Dixie and I need, but not so much storage that I feel the need to over pack to fill the empty space.
So get out there and enjoy the great outdoors with your pet!