Dog Gear & Tips

Hiking with a Dog – Day Hikes

I will start this all by saying, being in the woods is Nova’s happy place. Anytime we can bring her safely we do!

**Please follow the park that you frequents rules and regulations when it comes to bringing a dog and leashing them!**


Your dog is part of your group! When planning for a day out, your dog has to be thought of as another member of the team going hiking and you need to keep a lot in mind when bringing them along!
Also, remember your pooch will do ANYTHING to please you, and will keep going long after they are comfortable to make you happy. Paying attention to how they are acting, walking, and behaving is SUPER important for their safety and well being. All this to be said that, hiking with your dog can be AWESOME.

Etiquette for hiking with a dog:

Everyone has a different opinion on how to do everything, including the “proper” or polite ways to hike with a dog, this is simply how I do it:

  • POOP!
    • Carry plenty of poop bags / a poop shovel
      • We typically dig her poop for backpacking trips, and bag on day hikes for convenience
      • (If you decided to dig, follow your areas guidelines for human waste – typically 6-8″ deep!)
    • We carry poop bags and plastic shopping bags and double bag! (Trying to prevent that lovely odor from following us all day!)
    • Keep your dog on leash or within your reach/eye sight. You do not want to be those people who has their dog 3 groups of people ahead. Many times we have encountered people and asked if their dog was friendly only to be told “oh that’s not my dog” don’t be that dog owner. Be a responsible dog owner, and keep your dog in your sight!
      This is the perfect example of Nova stopping, and looking back to make sure we are still coming, and that she hasn’t hiked too far ahead of us!

      •  Nova has been hiking with us since she was a puppy, we have trained her to stay within about 15 feet of us. She is within our line of sight, and responds to being called back to us.
      • While hiking with Nova, when we see another hiker we ALWAYS put Nova back on leash. You never know if people are afraid of dogs, or how either the human or your dog will react. Nova immediately gets put back on leash, and we step to the side to the best of our ability to let the other people pass. If there is another dog, we also put Nova back on leash, then try to talk to the owner saying that Nova is friendly, but that she has gotten startled by other dogs, so if the dogs can meet slowly it is best..
    • Electric shock collars have worked for us with Nova. We have trained with Nova since she was a puppy using this, and have found it to be a wonderful tool. We have used this Sport Dog one for almost 2 years. Both the remote and the collar is waterproof, it has a great range and is easy to use!
      • If you plan on using an E-Collar with your dog please train with them before going out on a hike, just like everything else, you and your dog both need to get used to it and be comfortable before going out for a hike.
      • They do sell ones with even longer ranges
      • My only complaint with this would be the remote and collar are charged by a plug, not a USB, which means we can not re-charge this when backpacking.
One of my favorite photos of Nova, but you can actually see her e-collar in this photo. It has been a wonderful tool in helping us train her!
    • The same way you need food and water when hiking, so does your furry friend (See more below)!
  • PAWS!
    • Check their paws. Unlike us, Nova doesn’t have shoes, so her paws can get chewed up and cut up pretty easily, particularly when hiking on exposed rock. You should be checking their paws often and if they start liming or walking strange, check them, see how they are doing.

What to pack for your dog:

  • Water!
    • Please, pack lots of water for your furry friend. Dog’s don’t sweat, but they pant, drool and loose water when they exercise. Clean drinking water helps keep them happy and healthy after the hike!
      • We typically carry at least 1.5L of water in a large Nalgene bottle for Nova.
      • For a full day of hiking we carry most, typically 3L and if we know  it will be very hot, or think there will be limited opportunities to get more water we will carry as much as 5L for her.
Some of Nova’s food and water bowls!
  • Food & Treats
    • Packing a some of their food for a day hike, or plenty of food for a backpacking trip is VERY important.
    • Treats help keep your furry friend happy if they are getting discouraged while hiking, and help to keep them excited and ready for more
  • First Aid
    • We carry the following for Nova’s first aid:
      • Benadryl (In case they get stung)
      • Bandanna (To wrap a paw or cut)
      • Shoes/Booties
        • Nova is half mastiff, and massive! We have not been able to find booties or shoes that will fit her. For this reason we are constantly checking her paws for any signs of cuts, and we carry extra Bandannas just in case.
      • Harness / Carrying System
        • We are still searching for a harness that would allow us to carry Nova should she get seriously injured. If you have a smaller dog, we would recommend getting something to help transport them!


  • Doggie Backpack
    • Water is heavy, and Nova could stand to loose a few pounds, so we will sometimes have her carry some of her own water in a backpack.
      • We switched from the red Kurgo bag (as seen in the header picture at the top) to this green Ruffwear bag because the Kurgo bag had the “load” attached with straps and they would start to slide and move as Nova hiked.
  • Dog Jacket:
    • Nova will typically hike in a Kurgo Loft Jacket, or we will carry it if there is a chance of cold weather on our hike.

Overall, hiking with your dog can be some of the most fun times out there! I am ALWAYS amazed at how easy it is for Nova to hike up something, as seen in the video below!

I am always overjoyed to see how happy she is when we are in the woods, but want to make sure I do everything I can to ensure she stays safe so she can have another chance to do it again!
*Check out another post about what to pack when backpacking with your dog!*


  • hikewithin

    We just bought mushers wax for our pup’s feet but haven’t tried it yet. Have you tried it and if so what was your experience?

    • andistillhike

      Hey! Congrats on being the first comment ever on AndIStillHike!
      We have used mushers wax, and it works wonderfully! Nova does tend to try to lick it all off (I think she likes the taste) when we put it on her. We try to have one person pet/distract while the other puts it on her paws so there is a chance some stays on her paws and absorbs.
      We will also try to do this two or three nights in a row if we notice her paws are rough (or if we did a very rocky hike, like Franconia), that way we aren’t overload her paws every night and it gets a chance to work its way in and star healing!
      Let me know how it works out for you and your pup!

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