Camping and hiking with dogs go together. You have to hire a pet sitter or board your pup if you go alone. Doing so increases your costs and can stress out your furry friend. Bringing your dog with you helps everyone stay together and allows everyone to head outside and enjoy nature.
In an RV, you and your pet will be comfortable in a temperature-controlled environment, so you can stay dry inside your rig if your holiday hiking trip gets rained out. Some campgrounds have hiking trails right on-site, meaning you might not even have to go very far for you and your pet to enjoy nature walks and hikes.
RVs are pet friendly, but you still want to bring some of your dog’s favorites on your trip, like toys, a crate, and a dog bed. Don’t forget to bring a food and water bowl. To keep your interiors and upholstery scratch-free, trim your doggy’s nails before the trip. Keep the inside of your RV clean by bringing a dedicated dog towel. Keep the towels near the front door so you can dry your pup if they get into a puddle or get muddy paws.
If your pup requires specialized food and medications, make sure to bring them with you. Bring extra quantities as well, just in case you extend your trip or run into emergencies.
Ahead of your hiking trip, be realistic about your dog’s health. A hike will be challenging if your dog has a tough time going for a short neighborhood walk. We recommend taking your furry friend to the vet for a health evaluation. If cleared, you and your dog should start going for walks. Start with short, easy hikes and build up slowly.
Bring a collar or harness and a six-foot leash for your dog. Nearly all public places, including trails, require pets to be leashed. Start using a leash, collar, or harness, if your dog does not use one yet. It will help your pup get used to wearing one. Your doggy should also have identification tags or a microchip with your current contact information.
Bring a collapsible water bowl for your hike. While a regular bowl is OK, a collapsible is more practical. It takes up less space, and set it up for your dog to drink while trekking through the woods. Bring some water as well. Drinking from streams without filtering or purifying is not safe for your pup.
Last but certainly not least, make sure to bring poop bags! Standard grocery bags work but inspect them for holes. The last thing you want is to scoop up the poo and have a bag fail. Specialized doggy doo bags are higher quality, and some are specifically biodegradable.
It may surprise you that not all hiking trails are dog friendly. An online search for “dog-friendly hiking trails near me” will help you get started. Of course, if you are RV camping and searching for hikes away from home, you’ll need to update the search to include your destination.
Although national parks are dog-friendly, double-check to make sure you can hike with your pup. The National Parks Service website has all the information you need to know about visiting with your pet. National forests and state and local parks usually allow dogs too. Unfortunately, dogs are not always welcome, but it stems from owners taking dogs on the trail and not respecting the rules. Always review the respective websites to get specific details regarding pet policies.
Hiking is about getting out into nature and spotting wildlife. You don’t have to trek too far or be remote to stumble upon deer, squirrels, and snakes. You might also see moose, alligators, or bears, depending on where you hike. Know where you will be walking and what kind of wildlife is prevalent in the area so you can research techniques to handle a wildlife encounter.
Research the location, terrain, and trail conditions. Even if you have walked the trail before, conditions change often, and closures occur. You want to be well prepared to minimize danger to you and your pet.
Monitor the weather conditions in and around your planned hiking area. The forecast can change quickly and be erratic, especially during certain times of the year. Research is your friend. If the weather seems questionable, stay home or stick close to camp.
If you and your pup plan to hike on rough terrain, you might want to check out doggy shoes or booties. Paw protection is vital for pets that spend most of their time on soft carpets and lush grassy backyards.
From extreme temperatures on trail surfaces to sharp rocks and stabby sand spurs, dog boots can help protect your pup’s paws. Additionally, the shoes add traction, helping prevent your dog from slipping. The footwear also comes in cool colors. Try them at home before going on your hiking trip to make sure they fit well and that your dog gets used to them. Consider more than one set because they can wear out often.
Since you will bring supplies for yourself and your dog, you might consider a pack for your dog. The backpack allows your pet to share the load. Depending on your dog’s size, they can carry their water, water bowl, snacks, and any other items they may need. If you have a large dog, their pack may even be able to hold your stuff too. The pack also has a handle on the top, so you can use it to keep your pup close. Don’t forget to try using the pack before hitting the trails, so your dog gets used to it.
Dog backpacks need to fit your dog correctly. Your first step is to narrow down the kind of pack you would like and review their size guides and a dog fit guide if they have one. Wherever you buy, make sure you know the return policy if it doesn’t fit. Keep in mind that, when loaded, the pack should not weigh more than 25% of the weight of a dog of average age, weight, and health. If you have a senior dog or a puppy, the pack might be as low as 10% of their weight.
Check with your vet to determine if your dog can handle a pack. You don’t want to injure your fur friend.
If you plan on hiking in winter or summer, you might need to get your dog outerwear to help them through uncomfortable weather.
In winter or unseasonably cold days, a jacket, coat, or sweater will help keep your doggy warm. Choose one that is quick-dry and warm without the bulk. They come in fleece, quilted, with sleeves, without sleeves, or reflective. Dog coats come in every color, camo, floral, tie-dye, and more!
A cooling collar might help keep your pup comfy when it’s hot out. Some collars require you to soak them in cold water and wrap them around your doggy’s neck. Others go in the freezer, like an ice pack, and cool your pup slowly.