Hiking With Dogs: Our Must Haves
Updated: Jul 29
As the name Fireside Fernweh might imply, we LOVE to take our Swissies hiking! While it can be difficult to find time for long day-hikes anymore, we try to go on shorter adventures as often as possible. For our trips, long and short, we wanted to share some of our must haves!
Number 1: Water
Okay, this one might be the most obvious on the list, but people often walk out the door without it. When we are planning on 2 miles or less, we leave the water in the car, but for any more than that, we bring it with. How much water we bring depends on the length of the hike - we'll come back to this later in the post.
Number 2: Remote Collar or Long Line
Depending on what the trail allows and how busy it is, we like to have a remote collar or long line with us, so that our dogs have more space to explore or run ahead of us. Our remote collar is the E-Collar Technologies EZ Educator and for long lines, we use 15ft or 33ft biothane lines from Red Line K9. Biothane comes with its own pros and cons so we advise choosing whatever material suits you best. While we love the feel of biothane, it can get very slippery when wet, so that is something to be aware of. Please note, do not use a remote collar unless you have worked with a professional trainer to learn to use one properly and fairly. While it is an excellent tool, misuse can cause more harm than good. Keeping that in mind, using a remote collar or long line is also a great way to practice recall with your dog, which brings us to our next item.
Number 3: Treats
Never forget the treats at home! Having a few treats in your pocket makes it possible to practice recall, distract your dog while you walk past people and/or dogs, and pay them for all the posing they do for photos. Speaking of, if you're as crazy about taking photos while hiking as I am, seriously remember to reward your dog for all the cooperation they give! As far as treats go, we are fans of freeze dried dog treats for hiking, because they are high value but do not need to stay cold like fresh treats.
Number 4: Floating Toys
I don't know about your dogs, but ours LOVE water and unless you're familiar with the trail, you never know when there might be a water source for your best friend to play in. After learning our lesson losing one of our favorite balls to a lake after a bad throw, we only bring floating toys when we go hiking. Our personal favorites are the Liker Ball, Kong Wubba, and classic Chuckit! Bumper. Of course, if your dog is not a fan of water, you can skip this one.
Number 5: Dog Backpack
After many hikes of carrying all the water and our other stuff, it occurred to me to purchase a dog backpack and let Furrari carry some of the stuff. I decided to opt for sleek Switchbak Pack by Ruffwear and loved it! It is the perfect pack for a short hike, say 3-4 miles. It comes with water bladders that carry enough water for me and Furrari. After hiking on a couple longer and wetter hikes with our friends, I became envious of her dogs Palisades Pack and decided to order one for Furrari. This pack is a Game. Changer. Because the pack is removable from the harness, it is a breeze to take it off and on while we cross creeks or stop to play in the water. We've abused the hell our of our Ruffwear packs with water, sand, and mud and even after a few years, they remain in perfect condition. The Palisades pack is much larger than the Switchbak one, so we use it for 5-7 mile hikes or particularly wet hikes since it's easy to remove. It comes with larger bladders also which carries enough water for the longer distance, as well as all of the previous mentioned must-haves.
Number 6: Cedarcide
We keep our Cedarcide in the car so that we can quickly spritz ourselves and the dog(s) before beginning our hike. One of our puppy buyers told us about this product and we have loved it since we began using it. This is a recent add to our list, but we do feel it is quite effective against ticks, which are always a huge concern when hiking with your dog.
Number 7: Poop Bags
This is another item we keep in our car for all occasions. If we want trails to continue allowing dogs, we must pick up the poop! We don't have any particular brand we prefer when it comes to poop bags - usually we buy a massive package whenever we are running low.
These are our hiking must-haves, but we also may bring snacks for the people if the hike will be long or run over a meal time and we nearly always bring a camera. Although the photos in this post were shot with my old Canon Rebel T6i, I now shoot with the Canon R6 and absolutely love it's AI powered tracking autofocus, which makes it a breeze to shoot moving subjects. If you have any great must-haves, please feel free to share them in the comments!
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