Are you the happy pup parent of a dog that is always ready to hit the trails? As one recent article in Outside Magazine notes, “Few running partners are more eager to please than those of the four-legged variety.” And so it is great if you live with a dog AND love jogging, hiking, running and outdoor activities.
However, doing stuff outdoors often means having extra stuff with which to do it, and when you add a dog to the mix, you need even more stuff. While a friend of mine rolled their eyes at my use of the term “stuff” (correcting me and calling it gear), the reality is that you need the shoes, clothes and other items you use while running. And your dog needs their own list of gear, too.
In the past, I admitted to my own role as a dedicated couch potato when writing about the 4 Best Hands Free Running Leashes for those apt to take a jog or brisk walk with their dogs. I’ve also considered The Best No-Pull Dog Leads and Collars ideal for use on the trails or everyday life. But what about gear specific for those who intend to take their dogs running or along for daily brisk walks?
Interestingly enough, it depends on a few different factors:
These are all important issues to consider when planning and preparing for a run or walk with your dog(s). Let’s look at them and figure out the gear you’ll need along the way.
Last update on 2019-01-16 at 13:25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
If we look at the first question above – the issue of how many dogs – we know that leads have to come into the equation and should really be your first piece of essential gear when heading out to the trails or roads with the dog.
Now, I’ve read that Cesar Milan runs with a pack of 50 dogs or so, and I just find it tough to envision doing that in a safe manner. These would have to be 50 very focused and obedient dogs (i.e. NOT Janice and Leroy).
You can probably manage two dogs on your own, and particularly if you are using hands-free leads. Brands like the Stunt Puppy and Tuff Mutt are common among runners and walkers, and the Kurgo Quantum is popular, too.
Running with one or two leashes attached at the waist ensures your hands are free and allows you to keep everyone safer. The brands suggested have worked out some of the design flaws that might allow your dog to accidentally tug or pull you, leading to a fall or injury. Because, squirrels! The Kurgo is ideal for the double dog walker because it is actually designed for one or two dogs at once.
And if you have a real bounder on your hands, it might be best to put them on a bungee leash. I think that the OllyDog options are the best and allow a larger or more eager dog to bound around a bit without tugging at you or risking injury to all parties involved!
And while we are on the subject of the leashes and leads, let’s consider the next issue of concern – the time of day you will be doing the run or walk. Why? Because you’ll need to think “reflective” if you are doing a pre-dawn or sunset hour excursion. While most dogs respond well to mission-based walks and enjoy wearing a pack rather than a vest, any gear worn by a dog should always be designed with reflective panels.
We’ll look at the packs in a bit, but for now, consider investing in a high visibility vest as well as a reflective collar and leash if you are not out in broad daylight. The D-fa Dogs Moon-Walker High Visibility Vest is on the pricy side but is beautifully designed and made for dogs of any size. You can also go with the See Spot Trot vests or the Pet & Protect model. If you want only a reflective collar and leash, the options are endless. I like the Orvis models, but Higo, Mile High Life and Petbemo also make great sets.
I’d also recommend a wearable light such as the Ruffwear safety lights. They are impossible to overlook, affordably priced, easy to use and wear, and rugged enough for any conditions. Click them on and it is guaranteed that whether in the woods or on the roads, you and your puppo will be easily seen.
Next, consider the distance you travel. In the past, I’ve written a lot about care and caution when selecting dog breeds – particularly if you will ask that dog to be a distance runner or an active, outdoor type.
Little dogs and larger dogs like Great Danes are not actually meant for long runs in different conditions. So, be aware of this when choosing a puppo since you can do them harm if you insist they accompany you on lengthy outdoor excursions.
And whether you are going for miles and miles (or more than a day, such as backpacking and trekking) or you are just doing a daily hour of walking or running, it can really pay off to have your dogs wear packs.Not only does this allow them the focus of a mission, but it also allows them to tote along their necessary supplies.
As Cesar Milan said of running and walking with dogs, “It’s better when a dog is running with a purpose. For instance, a backpack with light weight intensifies the challenge for him, and he experiences working mode. It’s a big deal to a dog to have a sense of service.”
The packs I like are the Ruffwear options because you can find them as full-blown hiking packs with enough cargo for the dog to carry their own food and water for a few days of hiking, but you can also find lightweight options like their Singletrak and commuter designs
Yet, it is just as important that your dog have the materials it needs to remain safe and healthy when out and about. That could be using their pack to carry their water and snacks – and even their poop bags. It could be, as Milan suggested, to add a tiny bit of weight and train a very active dog; allowing them to burn up some energy.
Whether you are walking or running, your dog has to have certain things that you may not require. The packs are ideal for that, but it pays to invest in the right types of equipment. Yes, you can toss a standard water bottle into the pack, some kibble and your dog should be comfortable carrying them. But why not invest in essentials that you are sure they’ll be able to easily tote from Point A to Point B – no matter how far and how challenging?
I turn to the Tuff Mutt brand a lot for our longer hikes and walks. They make great poop bag essentials, like the Poop Bag leash attachment that comes with a roll of bags in an easy to use dispenser. I keep this on the everyday leashes, and use the larger Treat Pouch and Poop Bag dispenser for our longer walks and training days in the park. And as my regular readers know, I try to get out for a bit of camping with my crew (Janice and Leroy) at least once or twice a year. If we can’t we settle for a very long day hike, and I tuck their Collapsible Bowls into their packs to ensure they can eat and drink comfortably whenever we stop.
Whether we are running or walking, we also have to consider the terrain. Humans buy the right shoes for the activity and we should return the favor to our dogs. While I have yet to go anywhere that Janice and Leroy might need boots or shoes, I’ve got plenty of friends who do take their dogs into settings where their pups need a bit of foot protection. Rockier trails and even icy seasonal hikes and climbs necessitate coverage, and I have heard only favorable comments about the RuffwearTrex Dog Boots. Available in different sizes and designs, they are all terrain as well as condition specific, and though you will have to acclimate a dog to them, once they see how much easier it is to keep up with you thanks to foot protection, they’ll be even happier to go for their runs and hikes.
And if your dog just cannot get the hang of shoes, offer them a bit of protection with a product like the famous Musher’s Secret. This is a balm made of natural oils and waxes that protect your dog’s feet and pads from ice and heat (such as hot sand or pavement). A similar product is the 4-Legger balm that works on their noses, too.
And while we are talking about protection from the terrain, we have to talk weather. I’m not a big fan of dressing up your pets, but there are some great garments that can really help your dog to enjoy cooler weather jaunts. Once again, Ruffwear makes great options. but so too does Kurgo, PetBoBo and Gooby. I would suggest that you select based on your dog’s coat and the activity levels you will be demanding of them. Make sure the fit is functional and not restraining and that the gear is waterproof but breathable.
When you go to an off-leash location, I strongly urge that you ensure your dog’s have proper identification and even tracking. After all, even a place that is off-leash and fenced in can be escaped by a particularly slick or savvy dog (yes, I’m looking at you Janice). We have recently invested in smart collars. Though I am not a big fan of technology, this is great gear because it has GPS tracking. The Link AKC smart collars are touted as the only collars you will ever need, and if you are someone who takes the dog for a daily walk or run, it is a brilliant investment.
Last update on 2019-01-16 at 13:25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
If you are going to be around other dogs and people, and particularly if you are in the midst of a hike or run, you will want to be sure your dog has the energy it needs to remain active and focused. After all, most dogs play to near exhaustion when they are with their fellow canine friends, and if you are already running or walking, they can get fatigued faster than you might think possible. I already mentioned carrying certain essentials but did not get into the types of foods you might want to bring.
I look at options like Zuke’s Action Treats as a go to when we are going to be doing a regular daily walk or run. These are nutrient-dense treats designed to support a dog’s joint health and are easily digested. This is important as you don’t want stomach upset during activity. If it is a longer trek and a meal is needed go for the high energy, dry kibble such as the Taste of the Wild High Protein blends or the VICTOR high energy foods. Just a few handfuls for a day of hiking should be adequate for most dogs’ needs (but you know your puppo best so bring the amount you know is essential to their daily requirements).
With that, you have seven different categories of gear you should think of as essential if you are going to run, walk, jog or hike with your dog(s). Safety, energy and fun are the emphasis of these products and with them you can be sure that everyone will have a great time outdoors.