“If you’re properly prepared, the benefits of hiking with your dog are immeasurable. Hiking can be great therapy for a dog that is exhibiting boredom-based bad behavior at home such as shoe chewing, lawn digging, or gratuitous barking. Remember, a tired dog is a good dog — and hiking is a great exercise for humans as well as beasts (Source: dogster.com).”

The Endless Mountains region features some of the most beautiful and scenic hiking trails located on the east coast. Whether it’s a casual walk on a paved pathway or a more difficult hike through one of the state parks, Northeast Pennsylvania provides a variety of different options.  In this article, Part 1 of our two-part blog series, we will explore how to prepare your pooch for your hike.  Stay tuned for Part 2  next week when we will take you through some of our favorite hiking spots in Northeast PA!

With any trip into the wilderness, bringing your dog with you can raise certain issues which should be kept in mind. Is your dog protected against fleas and ticks?  Perhaps you should consider using extra preventive?  Even if your dog is protected, you might want to check them (and yourself) for ticks after hiking through high grass and wooded areas.  Will your dog return to you when called, or will you have to keep them on a leash?  Is there fresh drinking water available, or will you need to bring water and snacks for your four-legged friend?  All of these questions should be understood before taking your dog to any public hiking ground. One of Eva's Play Pups Countryside Dog Camp's counselors, Kaitlyn, is an avid hiker.  She will share some of her tips, tricks and favorite gear and products with us.  

Collapsible water bowls are really helpful to have on the trail for your dog to fill either with the water that you bring for them or from the fresh water supply along the trail. You can find these from multiple brands at your local pet supply store. 

 “Depending on if you and your dog are avid hikers, the length of the hike you’re taking and the difficulty level, you might consider investing in a dog harness,” Kaitlyn shares. “They are available through different companies such as Ruffwear or Outward Hound and available in different sizes.  Your dog can carry their own items for their hike, and even some of yours if your hiking pack is at its full capacity.”

We asked Kaitlyn to shed some more light on the wide world of dog harnesses and hiking packs.  Here were her recommendations…

If your dog is a beginner hiker, she recommends using the “singletrak pack” by Ruffwear, especially if your dog is new to hiking and wearing packs. This is ideal for if you’re just needing to carry and supply water for your pooch. You always want to start light and work the weight on with each hike that you take with your dog. Never store more than 25% of your dog’s weight in their hiking pack and make sure that the weight is evenly distributed. The singletrak pack is very low-profile and comes ready with two saddlebags that hang close to the body and allow for agility for your dog while you’re out hiking. There are two 0.6 Liter collapsible water bladders included with this pack.  Kaitlyn finds it especially helpful to have and fill one of each on each saddle bag to distribute the weight evenly. The stash pockets will hold leashes, doggy bags, and a collapsible water bowl.  This pack is ideal for a simple day hikes where you mostly just want to carry water and simple items for your dog. 

The harnesses provided on all of the hiking packs for dogs makes hoisting your dog in and through difficult places much easier for you on your hike. The “approach pack” is ideal for a beginner hiking dog and for day hikes, however, does not come equipped with water bladders as all of the other packs from Ruffwear do.

If you are looking for a pack for your more experienced hiker dog, Kaitlyn recommends “the Palisades” pack by Ruffwear. Larger hydration bladders and removable saddlebags are available on this pack for more storage room and easy crossings through water or tricky terrain. This pack is ideal for multi-day hikes and adventures for your dog and the load compression system secures the belongings in the saddlebags so they stay in place and not causing any sort of discomfort for your dog.

Another great product that Kaitlyn shared with us is something she likes to have for both the beginning and the end of a long hike.  An all-natural Paw Salve is very useful for after long hikes in rough terrain, in the snow, and to have if your dog is often walked on the cement and prone to salts left over from snow plows. It is also great for dry, crusty little noses!  Kaitlyn’s favorite brand is a local product from her home-state of Maine - an herbal paw balm by Pet Works of Maine.  All of us here at camp prefer to use local products but we have heard wonderful things about Musher’s Secret Pet Paw Protection.  It can be found either on their website but if you search locally - we are sure that your local pet supply store may have a product that would suit you and your dog well. 

Hiking with your best furry friend can be an exciting and rewarding experience for both of you.  Just be sure that you are prepared so that your adventure is as safe and fun as possible!  Stay tuned for Part 2 next week when we will sniff out some of the best hiking in the Endless Mountains!  Kaitlyn has even tested out some of the local trails to give you a good idea of what to expect for you and your furry friends!

Article Contributed by: Jennifer Matarese & Kaitlyn Hankins