Do you feel that cool breeze in the air? The humid and hot dog days of summer are winding down and making way for autumn leaves and pumpkin-spice-everything. What does that mean for dog parents? It’s paw-fect weather for taking our pups with us on the trails, of course!
If you’ve never taken your dog on an outdoor adventure — whether it’s just a short few hours on a trail or a weekend camping trip, planning can be overwhelming. So, our friends at Chewy, makers of dirt and waterproof collars and leashes have put together this Ultimate Adventure Dog Checklist to help get you started.
In addition to the essentials that you should always carry with you when you go on any hike, here are some additional items you’ll need to pack when bringing your best furry friend along:
Your dog should always wear a collar, but when you’ve got an adventure dog, not just any collar will do. Choose one that’s durable, dirt-proof, and waterproof so it’ll stay clean and dry no matter if your pup is crossing a stream…or couch surfing at home. The one-woman-owned and operated adventure dog company, Chewy creates collars and leashes for dogs on the go, with strong and durable construction that lasts and lasts.
Hopefully you never need it but just in case you and your dog get separated on the trail, make sure they can easily be identified by an ID tag with emergency contact information engraved on it. If your dog is microchipped, be sure that information is always kept up to date.
Get a waterproof leash to match your great adventure dog collar! Even if your dog will be off-leash on a remote trail, keep the leash handy in case you encounter another person, animal, or other dog-reactive dogs and need to secure your dog in a hurry. Before you hit any trail, know the leash laws and always follow them.
Dog owners often have the misconception that since wild animals poop in the woods it must be safe for their dogs to poop there, too. However, that couldn’t be farther from the truth! Dog poop introduces foreign bacteria into the environment that is extremely harmful to native plants and wildlife. Besides being harmful, it’s just plain gross. Leave no trace and pick up after your pup.
WATER AND COLLAPSIBLE BOWL
Dogs should have at least 8 ounces of water per hour of hiking. If you’re hiking in hot weather, they should have more than that. Plan to carry fresh water with you — don’t let your dog drink from rivers or streams unless you’re confident the water is safe to drink. Hint: In most cases, it’s not.
A general rule of thumb is to bring 20-25% more kibble for your dog than you would normally feed them at home. Remember, they’re burning more energy on the trail than they would burn on the sidewalk or on the sofa so their needs are a little higher. Feed small portions throughout the day rather than one or two big meals. If you stop for a snack, give your buddy a snack, too.
It’s essential to protect your pup from insects and parasites all year-round, but when you’re headed out on the trails, you may need to add another layer of protection. This is especially true if you’ll be hiking in an area where ticks are prevalent. If you already use a monthly flea and tick preventative, consider adding a dog-safe spray-on repellent, like OmniShield. Or try an Insect Shield bandana that has repellent woven right into the fabric.
Just like the treats you’d pack for yourself when going on a hike, be sure to stash some high-calorie, nutrient-dense snacks for your pooch to give them the energy they need to keep going all day. Look for treats that offer high-value proteins, fats, and healthy carbs. Make sure you pack treats and food in a sealed container so you don’t attract any unwanted attention from the local wildlife!
FIRST AID KIT
You’ll probably already have a basic first aid kit for yourself, so there are just a few extra things you need to add for your dog. Benadryl, in the event of insect stings or snake bites, VetWrap, alcohol wipes, and a muzzle, simply because injured dogs can be unpredictable.
For extreme heat or cold and abnormally rough trails, it’s a good idea to protect those sensitive paw pads. Make sure your dog gets used to boots or booties before you hit the trail, though. If Fido simply won’t wear a boot, paw balm will offer protection from the elements and soothe sore pads after a long day on the trails.
Most Dogs can comfortably carry 25% of their body weight, so let them lighten your load a little! Or at least have them haul their own food and water. As a bonus, they can also carry their own poop bags!
COAT OR JACKET
The jacket you pack largely depends on your dog — big or little, long hair or short — and the weather on the day of your hike. Dog jackets vary as much as the dogs they are made for. Raincoats, life jackets, safety vests, warm coats, and cooling vests, the list goes on and on.
• PLAN AHEAD
Before heading out on any adventure with your best furry friend, research where you’re going. Although dog-friendly trails, campsites, and outdoor recreation spots are easy to find, there are just as many spots that require you to leave your dogs at home. Most state, national, and municipal parks have websites that provide rules and regulations for bringing furry family along. Once you’re sure Fido can join you, check weather reports, too.
• EASE INTO BIG ADVENTURES
If your dog isn’t used to big adventures, it’ll be best to ease them into it. Don’t expect your couch pup-tato to handle a 12-mile hike on their first try. At best, you may end up carrying an exhausted dog back to the car. At worst, serious injuries can occur if your dog isn’t physically fit for your chosen adventure. Start with small, easy adventures and work your way up to weekend excursions.
• EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED
You’ve already done the research and you’re confident your dog is physically up for your big adventure. Now it’s time to expect—and prepare for—the unexpected. Is there a chance you’ll encounter unexpected rain? Could you find yourself on uneven or dangerous terrain? Is there a chance you’ll encounter wildlife, off-leash dogs, hikers or bikers, or other unforeseen events? The answer is yes! Do your best to be prepared for whatever may come your way.
• TELL SOMEONE WHERE YOU’RE GOING
Before setting off on any adventure, be sure to tell someone you trust where you’re going and when you plan to return. Decide ahead of time what this person should do if you don’t return on schedule and be sure to update them if plans change. You can’t always rely on cell service, especially in remote or wooded areas.
• LEAVE NO TRACE
Whether you’re visiting your local dog park, walking around the neighborhood, hiking a dog-friendly trail, or camping off the grid for a weekend, be a good steward. Pick up after your dog, clean up any and all messes, take only photos and leave only pawprints. Always pack out any messes you or your dog make on your adventures.