If you follow me on Twitter or DailyMile you’ll know that I spend a lot of time running, hiking, and skiing with my dog. Getting her out for a run has been a big motivator to get me out and it’s morphed into bringing her along as much as possible. Over the years and miles we’ve tried a lot of various gear and flushed out the good, the bad, and the ugly.
I’ve had a few inquires around what gear I like most so I thought I’d write a blog post to aggregate some of the best stuff I’ve found yet.
About 90% of the time Cooper is collar-less. We have Invisible Fencing at home, which we love, but she rarely wears it since we have pretty clear boundaries and she knows where they are and has never run through them. She also seems to hate the sensation, especially when compared to my parents 100lb Labs who will sit with muscles flinching with every shock, seemingly unaware of what is happening (they’re all heart and no brain.) She obviously wears a collar when we go out around town or for a run and when she does it’s the Orvis “Personalized Side-Release Buckle” collar in Blaze/Hunter Orange. It’s easy to see and very durable but even nicer is the fact that it’s quiet. I have her name and my cell phone number on the collar and usually run sans-tags which means you don’t have the constant jingle of metal tags. It’s the best collar I’ve found yet. ($19-29 based on size via Orvis)
Attached to two of Cooper’s collars (and her pack, see below) are the Orvis LED Collar Lights. These are amazing and crucial when you’re running in the woods at night with a black Labrador. We’ve lost a few cheaper lights in the woods within the first trip or two but the Orvis lights stay put – we haven’t lost one yet over several years. They’re easy to turn on and off, quiet (rubbery case), bright, and built to last. We’ve even had people stop us on road runs to compliment them. ($19 for a 3-pack via Orvis)
When we run on the street at night, Cooper also wears a Remington reflective hunting vest, but this model from Bass Pro is nearly identical [RedHead Safety Vest for Dogs]. I like the additional visibility for her and it doesn’t seem to bother her at all, although occasionally it will slide off to one side a bit. ($11.99 via Bass Pro). If you let your dogs run in the woods off-trail a lot, I’d also suggest purchasing a chest protector. We’ve had two dogs receive dangerous injuries while running off trail – one fatally. Both could have been prevented with a chest protector. I’ve never tried this one, but would purchase the Remington Orange Large Chest Protector for Dogs ($18.31 via Amazon).
I love this pack. In it, we keep a Planet Dog collapsible water dish ($12 via Amazon), some food, Bag’s On Board doggie-bags, and booties in case of a torn paw. Cooper definitely associates the pack with getting outside so she’s always happy when it’s pulled out of the gear closet. It’s well built, seems comfortable for her, and easy to use. It’s a nice size for an overnight trip, too. Packs vary a lot in size, fit, and price, so I’d suggest trying a few on to see which fits your dog and your needs best. We purchased ours through REI, who has a nice selection of dog packs. ($30-125 at REI) A word of caution; your dog will not account for the extra width when running past you from behind. This only seems to happen when your pack is at its heaviest and your legs are at their limit.
Those are the basics and I’ll continue to make updates to this page as we find better gear. After a minor injury this winter (several stitches due to an alpine ski edge) I’m going to add a first aid kit to Cooper’s pack for longer trips when we’ll be further away from the car or medical help.
I’d love to hear what else you’ve used, tried, or think I should get (or that Cooper would appreciate).