We love to hike with our dog Loki. Hands-down, it’s our favorite and most frequent family activity. Over the years, in addition to learning all of the off-leash dog trails in the area, we’ve also tried out a ton of great dog hiking gear. Our list of favorites is never complete, but we thought we’d share a few essentials for a perfect afternoon of hiking with your four-legged friend. And if you’re looking for a great trail, you can check out our blog post on the best off-leash dog hikes, the interactive map on our Resources page, the map board on our Pinterest page, or the City of Boulder’s Open Space & Mountain Parks dog regulations map. Happy hiking!
Collapsible Water Bowl
First things first, you and your dog need to stay hydrated. If you’re not cool sharing your water bottle and getting a little slobber in return, we suggest bringing along a collapsible dog water bowl like Hydro Pet or Dexas. Either one can be easily stored in a backpack or clipped to your belt or pack for easy access.
We love having a rugged leash like the Ruffwear Roamer, which includes a strong Talon Clip for easy, one-handed attachment to your dog’s collar, an elastic core that expands and contracts, and a buckle clip that allows the leash to be worn around your waist worn for hands-free hiking.
Did you know that besides its bad smell, dog waste that’s not properly disposed of can pollute water sources and encourage noxious weeds to grow? The good news is that proper disposal, including composting, can prevent all these problems. Boulder Open Space & Mountain Parks (OSMP) operates a composting program and compostable bags and waste receptacles are located at several popular trailheads and access points. Learn more about the program on OSMP’s website.
When you’re out on the trails, just remember to bring plenty of extra poo bags and always pack out your dog’s poop and dispose of it properly.
Voice and Sight Control Dog Tags (Boulder Open Space & Mountain Parks)
At the beginning of 2015, the City of Boulder updated their “Voice and Sight Tag” program, which allows your dogs to be off-leash on Open Space & Mountain Parks trails as long as they’re wearing the correctly-colored collar tag (blue for 2015, orange for 2016, etc). Each year, you’ll need to renew your license by paying $5 and the city will send you a new tag.
To participate in the program, you must attend an education class about the City of Boulder’s expectations for voice and sight control. Boulder residents will also need to have a City of Boulder dog license for each dog to be registered and non-Boulder residents will be required to provide proof of a current rabies vaccination for each dog to be registered. In addition, you’ll also be required to pay registration and annual renewal fees.
You can learn more about the program in one of our earlier blog posts or the City of Boulder’s website.
Watch Out for Wildlife
Many hiking trails are home to wildlife that could injure or even kill your dog. Animals that could pose a threat include coyotes, black bears, mountain lions, porcupines, skunks, rattlesnakes (vs. bull snakes), ticks, and even prairie dogs. All of these animals are more likely to cause trouble for your dog if your dog is chasing them, which is why being a responsible member of the “Voice and Sight Tag” program is so important. In addition, it’s important to keep your leash at the ready in case you spot wildlife and need to have greater control over your dog. Finally, make sure to vaccinate your dog for rabies to ensure the safety of you, your dog, and others on the trail in case of a bite.
Portable Treat/Ball Bag
Portable treat/ball bags are a great accessory for hitting the trails – especially for dogs that need a little extra encouragement or a distraction away from wildlife on trail. Divided pockets that stay open make training with multiple treats easy and multiple clips and loops let you attach your clicker, remote trainer, or any other training tool. The additional pockets are helpful too, especially if you don’t have another pocket for your keys, phone, etc.
Out on the trails, it’s likely that Loki rolls in something or takes a dip in a stream or less-desirable mud puddle. To wash the stink off, we often head to The Happy Beast after our hikes to use the self-serve dog wash. It’s just $12 per wash and includes shampoos, towels, blow dryers, and grooming tools. And the best part? You get to make a mess and we clean it up. 🙂 You can also save a little extra by buying a 10-pack of washes for $100. Or stop in on Wednesdays when every wash is $2 off.