Pet Experts

5 Must-Have Items I Bring When Exploring New Hikes With My Dog

There is really nothing better than hitting the trail on a new hike and having my dog at my side as we discover what lies ahead together. Exploring new hikes is rewarding in and of itself but to be able to do it with my best friend at my side and enjoying the magical view or serene scene that awaits us takes the whole experience to another level.


Of course, I never head out on a new hike without pre-planning to make sure I have all the gear I need. I always make sure I’ve got the right boots, the right pack, enough food and water, and all the essentials needed. The same goes for my dog. He’s not going to think about all the items he’ll need along the way, he’s too busy trying to figure out where all those magnificent smells are coming from. So it’s up to me to pack smartly for my pooch, especially since we’re hiking into uncharted territory (for us, at least).


Here are five must-have items I bring with me when exploring new hikes with my dog.


Plenty of Water

The most basic and essential element for me is also the most basic and essential element for my dog. It goes without saying that your dog is going to get thirsty along the way and the longer the hike, the more they’re going to need to stay hydrated. If your dog is like mine, chances are they’re going to want to stop and take a sip at most streams or rivers you pass. You and I know we shouldn’t be drinking that water but our dogs certainly don’t care. However, you really should get them in the habit of drinking the water that you bring as to avoid them ingesting the parasite giardia. The results ain’t pretty.


The question becomes…how much water should I bring for my dog? The answer is…it depends. Larger dogs will need more water than smaller dogs and different breeds have different needs. However, the general rule of thumb is to make sure your dog has at least one ounce of water per pound. If you know the hike is going to be strenuous, you’ll want to up that amount. I always like to figure out how much water my dog will need and then double it just in case because you never know.


Collapsible Dog Bowls

One of the first times I ever took my dog out on a hike I was really careful about making sure I had enough water to keep him hydrated. I was really proud of myself for thinking ahead and being a good dog owner. We started hiking for a bit and then decided it was time for a water break. I reached into my pack, pulled out a bottle of water, and realized that I hadn’t thought about what to put the water in so my dog could drink it. Suffice it to say, my hands became dog bowls that day.


Since then, I’ve always made sure to pack collapsable dog bowls on every hike. They barely take up any room in the pack or hang easily from your belt, they pop open quickly and easily, and once the pup has had their fill you just collapse them back down into the pack and keep hiking. Easy for you and ideal for your dog’s hydration. Of course, they’re also perfect for food stops as well.


Nylon Leash

I do my best to remind my dog I’m the pack leader around the house but once we get out on the trail it sometimes seems like it’s paw for themselves. My dog can’t wait to interrogate every smell, check under every rock, and investigate every noise. I’ve learned pretty quickly that having a durable, strong leash is key, not only to keep my dog close but also ensure I can always get control when I need it.


This five-foot nylon leash is a great way to go for both you and your dog. The grips are comfortable and won’t rough up your hand if they suddenly start pulling to chase a chipmunk. The universal clip fits almost every collar you can find. And the strong fibers ensure that if and when you need to control or protect your dog that you’ll have the ability to do so.


Special Dog Treats

You’ve heard of risk/reward ratio? Well if your dog is going to get excited about exploring nature and hiking all day, there better be some really good rewards at the end of the trail (and along the way). I always make sure to bring some really good treats with me on a hike so that my little guy not only gets incentivized for his efforts but also gets some much-needed bursts of energy along the way.


I always like to make sure the treats I take with me are chewy, easy to digest, and are packed with energy. This is no time for chews or large bones (although that’s not a bad option if you plan of resting for a while at the halfway point). I know that my dog really loves peanut butter and cheese so I usually skew towards those flavors. Freeze-dried treats usually do the trick. But each dog is different and because you want to make sure they’re staying well-fed and have enough energy to complete the hike, consider treats that match up with their taste buds and calorie needs. Here is a dog treat recipe that anyone could make.


Dog Car Seat Cover

This one comes courtesy of another tough lesson I learned from an early hike with my dog. I did a ton of pre-planning and figured out everything I’d need to make sure we were good. What I didn’t think about was what would happen afterward. It happened to rain a bit during the hike and by the time we got back to the car we were both covered in mud. It was easy enough for me to change into extra clothes but my dog was a complete mess. The real problem was that I hadn’t thought about the fact that my wet, muddy dog was going to spend the entire car ride back home making the back seat very wet and very muddy too. Lesson learned (and cleaning bill paid).


So I immediately went and bought a high-quality dog car seat cover to make sure that didn’t happen again. It fit perfectly into the back seat area and my dog doesn’t mind one bit. In fact, he seems to think it’s his second bed. Then, no matter how dirty the cover gets after each hike, I just pop it in the washing machine and it comes out as good as new.


There are certainly other items that you’ll want to make sure you think about before your next new hike with your dog, but if you sort out these five essentials, you and your furry friend are already one step ahead.

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