Friday, August 10, 2012

Bring this gear for family dog on day hikes

Taking the family dog with you on a day hike can be lots of fun. Running about and sniffing, your pet likely will enjoy being outdoors as much as you and the kids. As a member of the family, your dog will help create experiences that make the hike memorable for your children.

But don’t send your dog naked onto the trail. Like you, Rex or Queenie probably needs some hiking gear. Here is some dog gear you may want to take:
g Collar – All dogs should have a collar, with a name tag (giving owner’s name and contact info), that a leash can be hooked to. Consider getting a collar that doesn’t absorb water in case your pet jumps into a stream or gets caught in the rain.
g Leash – A walking leash is a good idea in case your pet begins to misbehave by wandering or chasing other animals. Don’t get a long one, though, as this invites all kinds of entanglements with trailside brush and trees.
g Crushable food and water bowls – Your pet probably will need to drink and eat on the trail, just as you will. Crushable bowls are lightweight and easy to pack.
g Doggie first-aid kit – Pets have different needs than humans for first-aid care. Carry a first-aid guidebook for dogs, iodine solution, liquid bandage (for paws with cuts and scrapes), and saline solution as a minimum.
g Dog pack – If your dog is mature and strong enough to carry its own food and water on a hike then have him or her do so. Stay away from those packs with pockets and extensions that can snag on branches.
g Flotation device – Should a mid-hike swim be part of the day’s plans, consider bringing a flotation device for your dog, especially if it doesn’t know how to swim or if there is a potential that you’ll be near fast or rough currents.
g Dog tracker – This is a collar and device that looks like a walkie-talkie so you can find dog for several miles around. You probably won’t need one unless your dog has a tendency to wander off (in which case, you then should put it on a leash).

Read more about day hiking with children in my Hikes with Tykes guidebooks.