Fall Hiking with Dogs
Happy First Week of Fall, Baker Fans!
Here at Baker Blanket we’re excited for the cooler weather. One of our favorite fall activites is hiking – and we love to bring our dogs with us. When you take your dog out on the trail with you, there are a few things to keep in mind to help make your trip safe and fun for everyone. Here are our top five tips for hiking with dogs, and a bonus look at what Baker dog Wilco carries in his backpack when we go on longer hikes.
- Proper ID saves lives! Be sure that your dog has a sturdy collar (like the Baker Dog Collar – made with that tough-as-nails classic Baker webbing) with ID tags on at all times when you’re traveling or hiking. The tag should be securely attached to the collar, and should have a few emergency contact numbers. In most cases, owners put their cell phone numbers on the tags, but keep in mind that many parks and forests do not have any cell service. It’s always a good idea to have a backup number on your dog’s tag.
- Bring plenty of water. Our dogs need to stay hydrated when they’re out walking. A collapsible water bowl makes it easy to share your supply with your four legged friends, and it’s easier to carry than a full size bowl. Be sure to introduce the bowl to your dog before you go hiking, so that you know they’re comfortable drinking out of it. We’ve known dogs who wouldn’t drink from the popular foldable fabric bowls, or the pop-up silicone bowls. Be sure you have a bowl your dog will drink from.
- Make sure your leash is both durable and comfortable to hold. I love the Baker leather dog leash for hikes. The Baker material is sturdy, and the leather rolled handle is lightweight and soft, so I forget that I’m even holding it! If you’re not used to long walks with your every day leash, you might be surprised at how uncomfortable thick nylon leashes can be by the second hour of your hike. For hiking, a 6′ leash is the perfect length to let your dog explore while retaining control should you run into another dog or unfriendly wildlife. As always, be sure to obey local leash laws!
- Walk your dog on a harness, rather than his collar. Even he’s got excellent loosh leash walking skills, walking on a harness and leaving the collar for ID only is safer and more comfortable for your pooch. Plus, even the most well behaved dog can unexpectedly take off after a rabbit, deer, or other wildlife, and a harness will help to protect him from injury in those situations.
- Be prepared for any weather, particularly in the mountains. Already, lots of Rocky mountains and the Cascades are snow peaked, and we aren’t far off from the Adirondaks, White Mountains, and Catskills getting some snow and ice. Even if you aren’t heading up a major mountain range, fall weather can turn quickly. 50-60 degree days of early fall are comfortable in most cases, but if it rains unexpectedly, you and your dog can both be caught unprepared. As the weeks pass, temperatures can drop even further. Be sure to bring layers and extra clothes for yourself, and pack a dog coat for your dog, too. The Baker dog blanket features the same great protection against the elements as our turnouts, so you know your dog will be comfortable and warm. They’re a lightweight item to add to your backpack (or theirs) and you’ll never regret having it with you should you run into a rainshower, unexpected high winds, or even if your dog decides to jump in a trailside pond and ends up shivering several miles away from your car or campsite.
Baker Dog “Wilco” loves to hike all year, but he’s happiest in the early fall. The weather is cool enough for the long hikes and State Park trails tend to be a little less crowded than in the peak of summer, which makes it easier to enjoy the great views and beautiful fall foliage. When we go hiking, Wilco carries his own doggie backpack filled with everything he needs on the trail, without making my pack any heavier.
What’s in Wilco’s bag?
Clockwise, from top left
- A well-fitted, durable dog backpack. We love how this one is bright orange, for increased visibility on the trails.
- Poop bags! What’s a dog walk without them? At least Wilco can carry his own thanks to the gear hooks on his bag.
- A collapsible water bowl. As we mentioned above, it is so important to make sure your dog is comfortable drinking from your trail bowl.
- Collapsible water bottles. We prefer these over standard water bottles just because they’re much lighter, even when full. Since Wilco carries his own water, we want to make sure that we don’t put too much weight in his saddlebags. Plus, they weigh almost nothing once they’re empty.
- First aid. For longer hikes, I have a hiking first aid kit in my backpack. If we’re just doing a shorter hike and I don’t have my own pack, Wilco carries some basics. Pictured above are some bandaids, antiseptic wipes, alcohol wipes, gauze, vetwrap, gloves and medical tape.
- Treats. Of course! Not only do they make it more fun for Wilco, but they serve as a nice distraction if I don’t want him to notice the rabbits, coyotes, or other wildlife. I also bring a tennis ball in case we find a clearing to play in.
- A dog mop. I bought this at the dollar store, and it’s extremely helpful for those unplanned lake excusrions, or the puddle that just HAD to be jumped in. Again, this is usually in my pack if it’s going to be a messy trail, but occasionally Wilco brings it with him, instead.
Now that you’ve read through our tips and our packing list, let us know what you think! Where do you plan on hiking this fall? Are there any trail tips you’d like to share with us? Tell us on our Facebook page.