This is the start of a multi part series of how we out fit our dogs for hikes, or any wilderness type adventure thats not mushing. This first post is going to center around the basic equipment and Non-consumable items.
A high quality Collar: we use K9 Tactical Gear. You want something that is strong and with a good buckle so that it will hold up to the abuse of the trail and stay on your dog.
ID Tags: Simple dog tags with your dog’s name, Your name, and phone number. We use Boomerang tags because they do not dangle. Tags that dangle can get caught up in their collar and at best rub your dog raw and at worst puncture and get lodged in their skin. We also use Road ID collar adaptors to get them to fit on the larger collars.
Microchips work, they cannot be lost like a collar or tag however. they can migrate around under the skin and get lost. Good vets/shelters will scan the whole body of a lost dog looking for the microchip, but not all are good. There is also new evidence that microchips may be causing cancer in dogs but is not conclusive yet. Our experience with Microchips from certain companies is that the number doesn’t show up in search engines like it is supposed to so who ever finds your dog has to look each chip company site looking for the one that number goes with. So this is something that you will need to evaluate on your own case by case basis and weigh the pros and cons.
GPS Tag: Now we do not recommend these at least most of them. This is because most require internet/data/cellular service to operate. This means if you are deep in the woods they wont work, if the power goes out they might not work, if you loose cell service for some reason they wont work. We use and recommend Garmin’s GPS collars as they operate off grid and connect to a hand held GPS unit via radio frequency. This means as long as both have a charge they will be operating the only limiting factor at this point is range. There are many ways to boost range but we also have never had issues. We do use a telescoping extendable antenna on the hand held in the off chance we need to extend range.
A beacon: We attach either a lighted collar or a beacon light to our dogs collars when we are hiking in a time of year when it does get dark. We have used many beacons and there are many good ones to choose from but we are transition all our dogs over to head lites collars as they are far superior to everything else we have used so far.
Good Leash: When we are in the woods we use our long lines that we make and sell. We use long lines for a couple of reasons. It allows a little bit greater range for the dog if the terrain gets complicated and they need to be farther away from us than a standard leash would allow, as well when we make camp if we are concerned we can wrap the long line around a tree and we know they cannot wander to far.
Secondary Leash: 2 is 1 1 is none. All our dogs that we take out individually have our collar mounted emergency lead attached to their collars in case we have them off leash and need a quicker lead then digging out the long line or our other back up leash that we carry in our packs.
Harness/Dog Pack: These two may be different items or the same for you depending on what you buy or you may leave the harness off completely. We train our adventure dogs to rappel so they have rappel rated harnesses. This came from our time in Colorado when we were in the mountains so that we could hoist or lower them if need be if we got hung up some where or needed to go down a steep incline. Remember if you can get stuck so can they and you need to be able to self rescue and rescue your dog as well if you’re going to take them in the woods with you. The rappel rated harnesses we use have saddle bag pouches built in how ever they are not made anymore but there are many rappel rated harness out there to choose from. We also use a separate pack when we dont need rappel rating that comes from nonstop dog wear. They are very roomy and water resistant as well as having many pockets for organization. Your harness or pack is what is going to carry all your other dogs gear that will follow.
- Keep in mind that your dogs pack should not weight more than 25% their body weight and even still you need to slowly increase the weight they carry starting with an empty pack like you would any fitness plan for your self.
Doggles: These will protect your pups eyes. We use RexSpecs as they offer multiple lens option and offer protection against snow blindness and UV. Doggles will also protect your dogs from sticks and other debris getting in their eyes from high winds or running through the woods. Your dog will need to to get used to wearing them as it is not a usual feeling for them. Have your dog try wearing them several times at home before taking them in the woods. We always start them with the clear lenses as well to give them as clear vision as possible.
Dog Boots: Dogs paws are susceptible to harm from broken glass, jagged metal, sharp rocks and extreme heat and cold as well as hazardous materials. Boots can offer some protection against these issues. Acclimate your dog to the boots so that they are comfortable with the boots like you did the doggles. We use trex model boots from ruff wear.
Reflective: Markers, or Patches are usually built in to most dog gear these days but if what you buy does not have them you can find them to add to it from many suppliers online.
Dog Rain layer: Most dogs that will be capable of being adventure dogs can handle being wet when they are active and running around. but when you bed down for the night or once you make camp and they are not working they will chill just like you. Our dogs carry a thin rain layer incase its needed for this reason, and nonstop dog wear makes multiple great options.
Stay tuned for the next article in this series which will cover some basic supplies and consumable that you should have in your dogs pack before heading off on your adventures.
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