Trail running dog crossing creek with chest protector

Must-Have Gear for Trail Running with Your Dog

Gear up for trail running with your dog. This guide highlights essential equipment for a safe, comfortable, and enjoyable trail running experience.

Dog running on bark chip trail with hands-free leash

Running Collars: Comfort and Control

A good running collar, preferably a buckle collar, is the first piece of dog running gear you should consider. Unlike a harness, which can chafe your dog’s skin, a collar provides a comfortable and secure way to attach a leash. This is especially important for dogs that tend to pull, as a well-fitted collar can help manage this behavior without causing discomfort.

When choosing a collar, look for one that is adjustable to ensure a good fit. It should be snug but not tight, allowing you to fit two fingers between the collar and your dog’s neck. Many running collars also feature a sturdy buckle for added security. This ensures that the collar won’t accidentally come undone during your run, providing you with peace of mind as you and your dog enjoy the trails.

Hands-Free Leashes: Safety and Convenience

A hands-free leash is another must-have piece of trail running gear. This type of leash attaches to your waist, allowing you to run with your arms free. This not only makes running more natural but also ensures you won’t drop the leash if you trip or stumble.

When choosing a hands-free leash, look for one with a bungee section. This absorbs shock if your dog suddenly pulls, preventing jarring movements that could throw you off balance. Some hands-free leashes also feature pockets for storing essentials like keys, waste bags, and treats.

Hydration Solutions: Keeping Your Pup Hydrated

Hydration is crucial for both you and your dog during trail runs. While you might prefer a hydration pack or water bottle, your dog will likely need an additional solution. Portable dog bowls or collapsible water dishes are great options. They’re lightweight and can easily be stored inside your pack or a spare pocket.  While dogs can quickly learn to drink from a hydration pack’s hose or valve, they tend to swallow air and it’s more natural for them to drink from water poured in a bowl. 

Some dog running gear even includes built-in hydration solutions. For example, there are running harnesses with pockets for water bottles and even hydration packs designed specifically for dogs. Whichever solution you choose, make sure to offer your dog water regularly, especially on hot days or long runs.

Paw Protection: Safeguarding Your Dog’s Feet

Just like you need a good pair of trail running shoes, your dog may need some paw protection. Rough terrain, rocks, and snow or ice surfaces can all pose a risk to your dog’s paws. Protective wax can provide a barrier against these hazards.

Choosing the right paw protection depends on your dog and the conditions you’ll be running in.

Safety Gear: Being Prepared

Finally, don’t forget about safety gear. This can include reflective vests or lights for you and your dog, especially if you’ll be running in low-light conditions. A first-aid kit is also essential. This should include basic supplies for both human and canine first aid, such as bandages, tweezers, and antiseptic wipes.

Remember, the best gear is the gear that works for you and your dog. Take the time to try out different options and see what fits your needs and preferences. With the right gear, trail running with your dog can be a safe and enjoyable experience for both of you.