Outfitting dogs with proper equipment increases their OUTventuring safety and comfort. Why would we not do that for them?
DOGS: OUTDOOR GEAR MATTERS
The most important piece of equipment for your dog is proper identification. It increases the odds of finding them if you get separated while on an adventure. At a minimum, put a tag with your contact information and the dogs name on their collar or harness. Literally anyone who finds your dog can use its name to comfort it, and can contact you. However, should your dog slip its collar or harness, the tag will be lost. As such, microchip your dog and keep the registry contact information current. Lost dogs are routinely scanned for a microchip. The information you keep current in the registry will help reunite you with your pup.
The use of restraining devices depends on your dog and your OUTventure. If your dog will be off leash, the freedom of just a collar is likely fine and dandy. Running un-tethered when we mountain bike, for instance, is preferred by both dog and human. Freedom from restraint is only appropriate, however, when trail and wildlife conditions allow and your dog is under voice control.
There are times, however, when dog restraint is needed or preferred. If so, seriously consider using a harness. When human help is needed with ladders or ropes on a trail, a good hiking harness can’t be beat. It allows us to safely carry a dog up, down, or over an obstacle they cannot otherwise safely navigate.
Protective Gear For Dogs
Outfitting your dog with proper equipment may include gear to protect them from the terrain or the elements. While a dog’s foot pads do an excellent job of protecting their feet, sometimes they need more. Terrain which has sharp or abrasive rocks, or extreme conditions of ice, snow, or heat, are brutal for your dog’s paws. Protect their pads with booties appropriate for the conditions, if warranted. Otherwise, use a good protective balm on them.
Our dogs may also need protection from the elements. Just as weather affects our comfort, it does for our furry friends too. If conditions are particularly hot, cold, or wet, your pup will be more comfortable wearing apparel specifically designed to keep them warm, cool, or dry. Yup, you can purchase rain jackets, cooling vests, and puffy coats for dogs.
Dog Gear for the Backcountry
If your dog will accompany you in the backcountry for a longer stay, then outfit it with a harness and saddlebag system. Doing so will lighten your load, and your dog won’t mind helping out. Made for specifically for your dog’s backcountry adventures, these systems are lightweight. Further, with multiple storage compartments, they will accomodate most, if not all, of your dog’s food and other gear.
Finally, dogs need fuel and hydration too. Get lightweight collapsible bowls for their food and water. For those not squeamish about it, skip the water bowl and teach them to drink right from your hose if you carry a hydration bladder in your pack. That’s what we do. Further, in as much as we snack to keep up our energy, they need to do so too. Trail treats are for both humans and dogs, so don’t forget theirs!
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