Canine Adventure Gear Guide – Part 1

Whether you’re trekking up a mountain, making swift ski tracks, or paddling down a rushing river with your dog, having the right gear for the task at hand is a must for both of you. Comfortable, safe gear can make all the difference between a miserable outing and great one when you’re venturing outside with your best four-legged friend! While you can choose to travel with nothing more than a leash and collar around your neighborhood, most dog sports and other thrilling adventures are going to require an investment in equipment that’s been tried and tested for the purpose. Here’s a gear guide that points adventure newbies in the right direction when they’re ready to hit the trails!

 

  • Skijoring

 

Skijoring involves a dog or team of dogs pulling a cross-country skier – the skier helps movement of the team by pushing with poles and skis, and the dogs, attached by sled harnesses and rope to the skier, provide additional pulling power. It’s ideal to have a good amount of cross country ski experience before trying skijoring with your dog – you should be able to have good control of your skis, poles, and be able to move and stop smoothly on your own.

 

Gear for you:

  • Cross country skis, boots and poles
  • A skijoring belt (or, in other words, a person harness). A good harness allows for a wide tow direction range, will have additional leg straps to keep the harness comfortably in place (which is especially needed with heavier or more dogs), and has a mechanism lets you quickly disconnect in case of emergency. Some brands to check out:
  • Tow line – this is what connects you to your dog. Two lines can either have single attachment points (for one dog) or multiple attachment points (used for two or more dogs). Your tow line should be made of durable, shock absorbent material like bungee to lessen impacts on you and your dog.

 

Woof Gear

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  • Body harness. A well-fitted, comfortable harness (preferably one made for pulling dogs) is essential. There are several different types available – look for a harness that’s secure, doesn’t chafe uncomfortably, and has multiple adjustment points for the best fit on your dog
  • Paw protection – on those really cold days or on long trips, your dog will appreciate some extra paw TLC. Musher’s Secret is a natural wax that you can apply to their pads to protect them from exposure and irritation from salt and ice.

 

  • Canicross/Hikejoring

 

Hikejoring is probably one of the easiest mushing activities to begin together with your pup – it’s simply walking with the help of some extra dog power!

 

Gear for you:

  • A body belt (though a skijoring harness will work here too)
  • A tow line
  • Good footwear – non-slip hiking boots or shoes are essential, as you need to be able to focus on your pack (not your footing!) and maintain control at all times
  • A comfortable hiking pack on long treks is a must for carrying food, fresh water, first aid supplies, and collapsible bowls for your pup to eat and drink out of.

 

Woof Gear:

  • A body harness – properly fitted, a good canine harness can not only be used for canicross, but also for skijoring, bikejoring, rollerblading, and scootering with your dog
  • Fresh water and snacks, especially on warmer days

 

  • Carting

 

Carting is another adventure activity that has historical roots – large breeds like Newfoundlanders and Bernese Mountain dogs were popular as draft dogs. Carting can be one of the more expensive dog sports to become involved in, since it requires pretty specialized gear, and, of course, a cart (and those can be pricey!)

 

Gear for you:

  • A cart, reclining tricycle or quad bicycle. There are 2 wheeled and four-wheeled carts as well – what type of vehicle you use depends on where you’re going with it, and the size and number of dogs pulling it! A popular choice for outdoor mushers is the Sacco cart – it’s actually used by mushers to train sled dogs to pull.
  • Helmet – A cart can move much more quickly than a person on foot. Protect your noggin from hard hits in case of tips and spills!

 

Woof Gear:

  • Harness. As with any other mushing sport, your pup needs a well fitting pulling harness. Look for a harness, with padding at pressure points and at least four attachment points that allow the load to be spread evenly over your dog’s torso. The Pulka harness is specifically designed to work with a Sacco cart

 

Bikejoring

 

For you:

  • Bicycle. A mountain or trail bike tends to work better, as their sturdy, light frame is easier to pull.
  • Helmet. Wear a safety certified bicycle helmet – just in case your dog decides to take off after a squirrel and cause a nasty spill for you.
  • Springer attachment or bike tow leash. Allows you to safely bikejor with your pup while keeping your hands off the leash! The Springer attaches to your bicycle and has a shock-absorbing spring that helps you keep your balance if your pup happens to tug or lunge away from your bicycle. It also has an emergency quick release mechanism.
  • Tow rope. You can use the same type of tow rope as you would when skijoring – this line connects your bicycle to your pup’s harness. If you want to bikejor with two dogs, you can install a second Springer and tow rope on the opposite side of the first one!

 

Woof Gear

  • Body harness – A wide, fitted, well-padded harness with a single attachment point that allows your dog to move freely is best. Some people prefer a ‘trail’ style of harness that can be used for other activities like scootering or urban mushing
  • Boots (optional) – Protective boots may be needed to prevent scuffed pads if you’re exercising with your dog regularly on pavement

Paddling

 

For you:

  • Watercraft and paddles– A canoe, kayak or stand-up paddleboard can all be made to accommodate canine passengers. Different types of canoes and kayaks are suited to different bodies of water, so be sure to get advice from a qualified professional if you are unsure.  Whitewater rivers have a very high element of risk and require specialized skills. Dry land training is an essential first no matter what the craft, though – your pooch should be able to follow commands and remain calm and still in the craft before you head out on your first water journey.
  • Life jacket – Dogs can be unpredictable travelers – so expect the unexpected, which might include a dump into the water!
  • Waterproof canoe pack – No matter what the length of your outing, it’s always a good idea to pack extra food, fresh water, fire-starting equipment and snacks for you and your canine companion into a completely waterproofed pack. Packs made especially for paddling are your best bet – not only are they designed to fit well into a canoe, but they have a low center of gravity, making tipping less likely.

 

Woof Gear

  • Life jacket. Regardless of how good a swimmer your dog is, a sudden dunking can cause panic. Choose a life jacket that fits your dog’s torso well and is made to support their weight. A grab handle and brightly colored exterior are also really handy features!
  • Non-slip footing. Rig your craft’s bottom with flooring that won’t make your pup slip and skid all over the place. Paint-on rubberized coatings or non-slip mats work best.
  • Sun exposure can be a problem out on the water, especially for thinly coated or light skinned dogs.
  • Leash and collar. Never use these to tether your four-legged friend to the craft, though!

 

Wondering where you can purchase some of this gear? There are lots of outdoor equipment companies that make fantastic gear made especially for our own canine adventure buddies. Petscape Products, Ruffwear and Kurgo are a few of the bigger names, with lots of variety available in canine gear to match the style, function and comfort level needed by your favorite furry friend!

Click Here To Visit WooFDriver’s WooFTrax Web Store

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