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The Canine Ten Essentials
Adapted from "Best Hikes with Dogs in Western Washington" by Dan A. Nelson, published by The Mountaineers Books

  1. Obedience training. Before you set foot on a trail, make sure your dog is trained and can be trusted to behave when faced with other hikers, other dogs, wildlife, and an assortment of strange scents and sights in the backcountry. If they can't behave, don't take them.

  2. Doggy backpack. Let the dog carry his own gear.

  3. Basic first-aid kit.

  4. Dog food and trail treats. You should pack more food than your dog normally consumes since it will be burning more calories than normal, and if you do end up having to spend an extra night out there, you need to keep the pup fed, too. Trail treats serve the same purpose for the dog as they do for you-quick energy and a pick-me-up during a strenuous day of hiking.

  5. Water and water bowl. Don't count on there being water along the trail for the dog. Pack enough extra water to meet all your dog's drinking needs.

  6. Leash and collar, or harness. Even if you dog is absolutely trained to voice command and stays at heel without a leash, sometimes leashes are required by law or just by common courtesy, so you should have one handy at all times.

  7. Insect repellent. Be aware that some animals, and some people, have strong negative reactions to DEET-based repellents. So, before leaving home, dab a little DEET-based repellent on a patch of your dog's fur to see if he reacts to it. Look for signs of drowsiness, lethargy, or nausea. Remember to restrict repellent applications to those places the dog can't lick-the shoulders, the back of the neck, and around the ears (staying well clear of the ears and inner ears)-which are also near the most logical places mosquitoes will be looking for exposed skin (at the eyes, nose, and inner ears) to bite.

  8. ID tags and photo identification. Your dog should always wear ID tags, and I'd heartily recommend microchipping her as well. If your dog gets lost far from home, you can use the photo to make flyers to post in surrounding communities.

  9. Dog booties. These help protect the dog's feet from rough ground or harsh vegetation. They are also great at keeping bandages secure if the dog damages its pads.

  10. Compact roll of plastic bags and trowel. You'll need the bags to clean up after your dog on popular trails. When conditions warrant, you can use the trowel to take care of your dog's waste. Just pretend you are a cat-dig a small hole several inches deep in the forest duff, deposit the dog waste, and fill in the hole.

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