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When we adopted Inkling, We did so with every intention of spending time with her in the great outdoors. As soon as feasible, we wanted her to start developing as a trail puppy. So far, so good; for the most part we love sharing adventures together! We face challenges, and we’ve got a lot to figure out, but we’re learning the in’s and out’s of adventuring together.
As we’ve hiked more and more, we’ve come across a few products that have made the transition to trail puppy more smooth. You don’t need these to go hiking or to make your new dog into a trail puppy, but they sure can help!
No, Inkling isn’t rock-climbing, but damn does this carabiner make hiking with her easier. If I need both hands for anything, it allows me to easily connect her leash to a tree, fence post, or even my belt.
There are tons of lightweight carabiners on the market, but I like this Black Diamond for a few reasons. First, it’s rated for over 5000 pounds of force, meaning that Inkling literally does not have the strength to break it. Secondly, I can open or secure it with one hand, which is nice when you’ve got a leash or poop bag in the other. Thirdly, I’ve been a fan of this brand since a Black Diamond Ice Ax saved my ass on Mount Whitney. I know that’s a pretty glaring bias, but I’m willing to accept it!
We don’t just use a treat bag on the trail, we use it everywhere. Inkling doesn’t usually get a bowl of food, instead she gets food rewards every time she performs a behavior that we want, or while we’re training. It adds up to a lot of food very quickly, and the easiest way to have it handy is to keep this bag strapped to my belt!
This is doubly important when she’s a trail puppy. We need to be able to get her attention away from the thousands of distractions that she hears/sees/smells in the woods, and food in front of her face has proven to be the easiest way to get her focused on us again. In the winter it was easy enough to fill coat or hoodie pockets with kibble, but now that it’s getting hot, a treat bag is definitely the way to go!
NOTE: I recently switched from using this treat bag to using Cotopaxi’s Halcon Chalk Bag. The Halcon costs more, but it has the main pouch, and then two smaller pouches on the back side (perfect for poo bags). I also like the Halcon because it has a waist strap, so it feels more secure than the old treat bags we used. The other treat bags are good, but since I spend most of my day wearing a treat bag (it’s not unusual to see me around town with it on my hip) I prefer the Cotopaxi Halcon.
One of the challenges we face is Inkling’s disinterest in proper hydration. This means that we stop quite frequently to convince her to lap up some water. We used to take a small metal bowl with us, but eventually transitioned to these collapsible bowls. They’re easy to toss in a daypack, or even clip to a leash or belt-loop. Whenever we stop, I pop it open, pour some water from my bottle, and let her drink as much (or as little) as she wants. When she’s done, I just dump any unused water, collapse the bowl flat again, and clip it to my pack.
We bought a pack of four bowls, so Clarissa and I each have one in our car, we keep one with Inkling’s stuff, and we always have one with the hiking gear so we’re always ready to go. They’re easy to clean, light, and don’t take up much pack space. All in all, they’ve worked out great for us.
Gear for the Trail Puppy
Do you need any of these things to take your doggo for a hike? Absolutely not! If you already have a system or stuff that works for you, please carry on. That said, this gear has been quite helpful for us, and I would happily recommend these items to anyone looking to raise up a trail puppy. Just remember, more important than this gear is proper flea, tick, and heartworm prevention, and up to date vaccinations so that you and your pup can safely enjoy your hikes together.