Now that the warmer weather is here and the sun is beckoning you and your dog to wander, roam, and explore, we want to help you have safe and fun journeys together. After all, few things are as much fun as enjoying some quality time with your dog in the great outdoors.
Before you hit the dusty trail, check with your vet to make sure your dog is fit enough for a vigorous outdoor adventure. Then check to make sure the park, beach, or recreation area you want to visit allows dogs. If they do, find out what the rules and regulations are concerning canine companions. Finally, gear up with some essential equipment. Here are few items to consider:
Canine saddlebags/backpacks: Designed to fit a dog’s physique to help our four-legged outdoor explorer carry his own load (and maybe a little of yours). Make sure you choose one that’s ideal for your dog’s size and breed—and that’s comfortable, sturdy, and truly canine friendly. Before considering outfitting your dog with a saddlebag, check with your vet to make sure your furry hiking companion is in good enough shape for the extra weight.
Cooling vests: These vests provide an effective way to help your hot hound keep his cool on a torrid day. The principle is simple enough: Slip a cooling vest on your dog and soak it with water. The special fabric keeps your dog dry, but allows the water to evaporate. As it does, it cools your dog.
Doggie life jackets: This is essential equipment if your dog accompanies you on boat rides. Remember, even a dog that’s a good swimmer can become tired if it’s a long doggie paddle back to shore. And even the best dog swimmer can get exhausted fighting waves and currents. When choosing a life jacket, make sure it fits your dog securely and comfortably.
Protective boots: If you’re hiking with your dog, you may need to protect his sensitive paws from hot, sun-soaked rock surfaces and abrasive gravel paths. These boots not only protect his paws, they also provide extra traction on slippery surfaces. And in the winter months, they can also protect delicate paws from icy-cold surfaces and harsh ice-melting chemicals. Read "Protecting your Dog’s Paws" for more information about protecting your dog’s paws.
Biking equipment: There are several ways your dog can have fun on a bike outing with you. This includes…
…enjoying the view from a special dog trailer: These trailers hitch to the back of your bike and are made to provide a comfy and safe ride.
…feeling the wind in his face as he sits in a doggie basket: Small dogs often have a great time surveying the road ahead from a handle-bar-mounted basket. Some of these baskets even transform into dog-carrying pouches.
…galloping alongside your bike, attached via a specially designed bike-leash system. These systems have been developed to give dogs enough room to run along with you while keeping their distance from the bike’s tires. Before buying/using one of these systems, make sure you read all the safety information—and begin by practicing with your dog at a slow pace. Never use these systems if your dog is incapable of keeping up with you, and never pedal faster than your dog’s pace.
Specialized leases, harnesses & collars: There’s one thing you’ll quickly realize when you take your dog out for some vigorous fun under the sun: The leash and collar you normally use for a short neighborhood stroll aren’t usually up to the task. To remedy that, manufacturers have designed a wide range of leashes and harnesses that make it easier—and safer—for you and your dog to enjoy a hike on the trail or a run on the road. Check with your local pet supply store for hands-free leashes, runner leashes, padded collars, bungee leashes, etc.
Other gear to consider when hiking, camping, and “outdooring” with your dog:
- Easy-to-pack dog bed
- Doggie first aid kit & safety pamphlet
- Travel water and food bowls
- Reflective vest
- Scoops and bags to clean up after your dog
A few other things to remember:
- Never take your dog where he’s not welcome.
- Don’t over-exert your furry friend or force him into an environment where he doesn’t feel comfortable.
- Keep your dog in sight at all times—and never let him run off without you.
- Take his license and tags with you. And if you’re traveling over the border, you’ll also need his inoculation records.
- HAVE A GREAT TIME TOGETHER!