Summer is almost here, which means DOG ADVENTURES! Ok, ok – we know you and your pup adventure in all the seasons, but summer is probably the most fun! In the last year of adventures with Hilde, Will and I have learned a lot of helpful tips and tricks for when you are out and about with your dog. Here are some of our favorite adventure dog “hacks!”
1. Attach an S-Biner to the end of all of your leashes
Whether we’re traveling in the backcountry, cross country on a roadtrip, or grabbing a cup of coffee in town, Hilde is almost always with us. This means that sometimes she needs to hang out while we’re focused on the task at hand. We attached these cool S-Biners to the ends of all of her leashes so that we could quickly and easily secure her leash to almost anything. They’re cheap, and helpful in so many situations!
$3.99 – S-Biners from Nitize.com – just make sure to get one rated to your dog’s weight!
2. Spray your pup down with PAM cooking spray
Our pup Hilde is a Bernese Mountain Dog which makes her right at home in the snow. Seriously, give this girl just a glimpse of snow and she goes nuts! One thing she doesn’t like is all of the snowballs that collect on the bottoms of her feet, back of her legs, and underneath her belly. We tried Musher’s Wax (which is an awesome product for protecting pads against harsh salt on winter streets!) and it did help a little for the feet, but did nothing for her legs and belly. Now, before we go out skiing in deep powder, we spray her whole underside down with PAM cooking spray. It keeps the snow from collecting while we’re out, and it’s super cheap to boot! A quick wipe-down with an old towel before we get back in the car and she’s good as new.
3. Get (or make!) an LED collar for camping
We spend a lot of time in campgrounds and rural areas across the USA, usually with friends who have dog buddies for Hilde to play with. When it’s safe, we like to let them roam at will (so long as there is nobody else around for them to bother.) Hilde generally does a great job at hanging close, but I’m a worry wart and like to know where she is at all times. This LED collar is awesome for that – the blue lights are incredibly visible from afar and knowing where she’s at is super reassuring! We’ve had a single collar for over a year now and it’s still going strong on the same set of batteries. I prefer the collar over the little lightup tag because it can be seen from all angles – the tag gets lost in her thick fur!
$14.99 – LED Dog Collar from The Pet’s Tech – this is the one we have and love!
4. Get a smell barrier bag for hiking
Will and I are big proponents for packing out dog poop whenever possible, so this one has proved to be invaluable for us. Unfortunately, there’s a certain aura that often accompanies the poo-packer that can make doing the responsible thing easy to ignore. Luckily, we found this awesome product at REI that stores the poop AND contains the smell! It works so well that I’ll happily hike behind Will even when he’s carrying multiple Hilde bombs. Gross.
Even better is putting your pup’s no-smell poo bag in their own backpack! Then you don’t have to smell it or carry it, either.
$20.00 – Nite Ize Pack-A-Poo Dog Waste Bag – worth every penny!
5. Get them their own sleeping mat
Lots of people complain that dogs in tents don’t work. It’s true… without the proper equipment, having your pup in your tent can often end up like this! After several very snuggly (albeit not very restful) backpacking trips in the snow we knew that we needed to insulate Hilde better against the chilly backcountry nights, so we cut an old ThermaRest Z-Lite sleeping pad to be just her size. It works great by the campfire, too!
6. Teach the “Whistle Stop”
There are SO MANY things your dog can encounter in the wilderness, and not all of them are good. Recall is an incredibly important skill to teach your dog, but a lot of people struggle with it, especially when there’s a ton of interesting stuff competing for attention. Will and I have started to teach Hilde a special “emergency only” recall just for use in the backcountry: the Whistle Stop.
The idea is this: our packs all have a safety whistle that generally goes unused. Over the last few months we’ve been reinforcing to Hilde that a short two blasts on the whistle means that she’s going to get a REALLY awesome treat, like the end of a block of cheese or a few pieces of salami. We will never use this as a general “come back here” command, but if something truly life threatening came up we could use it to get her back to us quickly, no questions asked.
7. Get an all-in-one multivitamin and supplement
When we started building up Hilde’s endurance for longer adventures, the vet suggested a long list of vitamins and supplements to make sure she’s getting all of the nutrients and support she needs. When I started looking into all of the requirements I quickly got overwhelmed with choices. Luckily we found Platinum Performance, an all in one supplement that supports her joints with glucosamine (super important for large dogs that do heavy activity) gives her the right omega 3 fatty acids, and has a ton of good vitamins and antioxidants that are not included in her regular food. They use high quality ingredients and their claims are backed by some of the best veterinary science in the industry. On top of that, it doesn’t smell fishy and she loves it!
$21.00 – Platinum Performance Canine can be ordered online directly from Platinum Performance.
8. Fight fleas & ticks the easy way
Fleas and ticks are our worst enemy. Not only do they carry life threatening diseases, they’re just downright gross. We tried several topical treatments for Hilde but found that they just weren’t working the way they were supposed to. Apparently Hilde does a little too much swimming for the supposedly “waterproof” topical solutions. Our vet recommended the Seresto collar and it’s been worlds better! She has long tick-grabbing hair so we used to find 3-5 on her after every hike in California. Now, with the Seresto, we only find one once in a blue moon.
9. Give them a bear bell
It’s no secret that dogs bother wildlife. However, if you can alert the wildlife that your dog is coming through, they can get out of the way before your pup even knows that they exist. We always make sure that Hilde wears her own bear bell when hiking in Grizzly country, for her protection and our awareness.
10. Get the right vaccinations for your area
When it comes down to it, one of the best adventure dog “hacks” isn’t really a hack at all! When we transitioned from Colorado to California there were all kinds of new dangers on the trail, abundant rattlesnakes being one of the scariest. A quick chat with our vet revealed a rattlesnake vaccine, that would help slow the effects of venom should she ever get bit and give us precious extra time to get to the animal hospital. Make sure to talk to your vet about whatever you’re doing out there, they have lots of helpful local advice!
Before you go…
Will, Hilde and I are currently finalists in the Kurgo Live Your Adventure Sponsorship contest. If we win, we’ll receive $5,000 and Hilde will become one of their ambassador dogs. YOU can help us out by visiting this page and voting for us!