tips for hiking with your dog in the rain

Tips for Hiking in the Rain With Your Dog

For devoted hikers, the rainy season is no reason to stay home. The problem is that you want to take your dog along with you, but how to keep them warm, dry, and happy so you both have a fun day of exploring.

Making sure that your dog has the right gear is essential for taking them hiking in the rain and having both of you enjoy it. Some considerations are shoes for your dog, a raincoat, and how to dry them off afterward. Below are my tips for having fun hiking with your dog in the rain.

By making sure that not only you are fitting out with rain gear, but your pooch as well, you will both have a much better time. Things to consider are boots, rain coats, and what you need for cleaning up, drying off, and getting home after the hike.

Boots for hiking with your dog in the rain

Photo Credit: Pauline

Some people love them, some dogs hate them, but when it comes to hiking with your dog in the rain, you may want to consider getting them a pair of boots.

Do dogs need boots when hiking in the rain?

Dogs have survived for millennia without wearing boots, so why should they start wearing them now?

The reality is that modern dogs spend a good deal of their time on soft, even surfaces and have not developed tough, durable pads that can put up with extended times on rough surfaces and harsh conditions.

Putting boots on your dog can offer them some protection from rocks and other trail hazards as well as give them some added grip on slippery surfaces. Even if your dog is used to hiking under dry conditions, you may consider boots to help protect them from the wet, and extra wear that damp trails offer.

For you, you may find that putting boots on your dog makes post-hike cleanup easier, especially on breeds with fluffy legs.

Choosing dog shoes for hiking in the rain

The things to consider when picking out a pair of hiking boots for your dog are how much protection they need, the terrain you are covering, and the material of the boots.

For hiking in wet, muddy weather the best bet is boots made of synthetic material and are water-resistant.

If your dog has lots of hair on the legs, you may want to consider getting hiking boots that are taller, to keep them from getting as much mud on them.

Look for dog booties with velcro closures for the best fit. Ones that just slip on, and are sock-style are not suited for long treks into the wild places and will likely just wind up falling off and getting lost.

Disadvantage of dog boots for hiking

The big challenge with dog boots is getting them used to them. Dogs are not used to walking with anything on their feet so you will need to get them accustomed to them slowly.

My suggestion is to work them into their boots a little at a time, at home, and slowly get them used to go walking with boots on.

  • Some dogs don’t get used to boots
  • Ill fitting boots can cause foot problems
  • Boots can make your dog too hot

Boots that don’t fit your dog can cause issues just like they would if you were wearing a bad pair of boots. This is another good reason to test boots out at home, for shorter durations, and then check your pup’s feet for any signs of problems.

Lastly, your dog may get too hot with boots on. If your dog is very active, has a coat on, and it isn’t that cold out, they may actually get too warm.

Final thoughts on boots for dogs in the rain

While putting boots on your dog when going hiking in the rain is partly for their protection, one of the other main benefits is that they should help keep their feet cleaner, and make the post-hike cleanup easier at the end of the day.

Rain coats for hiking with your dog

Raincoats for dogs when hiking in the rain

When we go hiking in the rain, we wear a coat to keep us warm and dry. Some dogs too will need some protection from the rain. Other times, raincoats for dogs are more for our convenience than theirs because putting an 80-pound soaking wet dog in the back of the car isn’t fun.

What dogs need a coat when hiking

Part of a raincoat’s job is to keep your dog dry and part of it is to keep them warm. Not all dogs will need both of these.

If you have a double-coated breed, and have properly taken care of their coat, they may not truly need a coat that keeps them warm and dry. Their undercoat will likely keep them warm and keep the water off their skin. If you have ever tried to wash a Golden Retriever in the winter, you will know what I mean. Getting them truly wet is difficult.

For dogs like these, a raincoat is more to your benefit. A rain slick for dogs like these will shed most of the water that you would otherwise have to deal with when you get done with your hike.

On the other end of the spectrum, if your dog has a single coat, or is lacking that protective undercoat, you will likely want a water-repelling raincoat with more insulation to keep them warm and dry.

In either case, pay attention to your pooch as you are hiking and watch for any signs of them becoming too warm or too cold. This may seem like common sense, but I know from experience it can get easy to get caught up in the hike and forget to check in with your four-legged companion.

Fitting a dog for a rain coat

After you have picked a coat out, you should consult with the sizing chart from the manufacturer to get the one the fits correctly. Choosing a coat that is too small will be uncomfortable for your dog, restrict their movements, and can even rub raw spots.

Conversely, a raincoat that is too big will get in their way and be problematic for them. The ideal fit is a coat that is snug, but not tight or binds anywhere.

Harnesses for hiking with your dog in the rain

One thing you may want to consider if you have always just used a traditional collar and leash is that most rain jackets work better with a harness and in fact, typically have cutouts for harness buckles. You will likely find that your dog’s raincoat covers up their neck and makes a regular collar problematic.

Post hike cleanup

After you are done hiking with your dog, there is one last challenge, getting a wet and muddy dog in your car and back home. With the right preparation, it doesn’t have to be as tough as you might think.

Some items that make post-hike dog cleanup easier are

  • Absorbent towels
  • Foot baths
  • Car seat liners

Bring towels to dry your dogs off with after a hike in the rain

Again, it seems like a no-brainer to pack some towels for drying off your dog after a hike, but I’ve gotten excited and forgotten them myself so it does happen. Old bath towels work, or you can go fancy and get the super absorbent camping towels. I always keep a couple of these in Leif the Adventure van just for emergency drying off sessions.

Portable dog foot baths for post-hike cleanup

Especially if your dog doesn’t wear boots, you will want to wash their feet before taking them home. Toweling them off doesn’t really get them clean so my suggestion is to use a portable dog foot washer.

These are really just tubs with silicone fingers that you use to wash each of your dog’s feet in succession. The advantage here is that by getting their foot fully in some clean water, the majority of the mud and dirt will come off in the cleaner and not your car.

These tools are not expensive, ranging from $10 to $30 on Amazon, but make post-hike cleanup so much easier!

Car seat liners for after hikes

You may not have considered a pet liner for the back seat of your car, but these are a great way to get wet, dirty dogs home without completely messing up the back of your vehicle.

These are water-resistant pieces of canvas that stretch from the headrests on the front seats, down and over your back seats up the back of them. They aren’t a foolproof way of keeping dog hair, dirt, and mud off your seats, but they do help immensely.

Final thoughts on hiking with dogs in the rain

Hiking with your dog in the rain can be fun and not too messy if you get the right gear to keep your pup happy, and keep you from having to deal with a giant mess.

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