Check on the dog rules for the trail. Are dogs welcome? Are they allowed off leash? How long is it? If you think you are good to go, read on.
1. Get foot gear
Dogs you’d never expect to need dog boots can end up too pained to walk after tromping through rocky wilds. Thin boots protect paws while allowing a dog to feel the ground.
2. Supplement your first-aid kit
Such as with tweezers, Benadryl, probiotic and fiber supplements for diarrhea; topical calendula and arnica for wounds and bites; and tea bags for compresses to reduce swelling and pain. Also include triple antibiotic ointment, a penlight to check eyes, artificial tears to flush anything out, an EpiPen (if he’s allergic to insect stings), a blanket to use as a stretcher, and (duh) a cell phone or radio to call for help. And maybe a muzzle—in case you have to pull out those nasty porcupine quills.
3. Leash and collar
Your dog should wear a collar with up-to-date identification tags in case you’re separated. While some trails have a mandatory leash policy, others are more lenient. It’s best to always carry a leash none the less. Instead of a retractable leash, carry a short four- or six-foot leash so you have better control of your dog’s distance should he become startled or suddenly interested in chasing wildlife. Larger dog breeds may benefit from wearing a harness should you need better control.
4. Check for Ticks and Poison Ivy
Obviously, your dog’s health is priority number one. Stopping to check the trail ahead for Poison Ivy and poisonous plants will help your dog stay safe and injury-free. In addition, make sure to check for ticks both during and after the hike.
5. Pick up their poop
While you might be tempted to leave your dog’s poop ‘out in the wild’, some poop bags and a Ziplock bag (for your nose!) will earn you lots of trail karma points. Dog poop contains diseases that could contaminate water sources, so it’s always wise to bag it and trash it.