6 Best Dog Harnesses for Hiking: Our 2019 Top Rated Picks

Our canine companions make the very best hiking buddies. They are guaranteed to enjoy discovering new places, trails and forests, especially when they are by your side. Hiking can be a difficult hobby, and it’s always best to start out with short and low impact hikes if you and your furry friend are new to it. The best way to begin is by being prepared, and that starts with a good dog hiking harness.

6 Things to Look for in a Good Hiking Harness for Dogs

As an active pet parent you want the very best hiking harness for your dog. Look into these details before making your final purchase.

  1. Sturdy for a Puller – If you have a dog who loves to pull you along for a ride, you’ll want a sturdy harness. A sturdy harness will be made of high quality material, and could possibly have two leash attachments on it for better control. You will want something padded that won’t restrict your dog’s breathing in the event that they are pulling.
  2. Strong Leash Attachment – Going along with a dog who loves to pull, it’s important to have a strong leash attachment. Look into a harness that has an aluminum and reinforced leash ring. A sturdy harness with a secure leash connection is a must-have for large dogs or pups that pull.
  3. Comfort – Of course you want a comfortable harness for your dog! Make sure you get the proper size for your dog so it’s not rubbing the wrong way on the wrong spots. Look for a harness that’s padded and made from breathable material. A cozy harness will ensure a safe and enjoyable hiking experience.
  4. Versatility – Wouldn’t it be nice if you had a hiking harness that could be used for everyday use as well? This will save you money and hassle. Some of the best hiking harnesses aren’t super bulky, making them a good choice for everyday walks or runs.
  5. Special Features – Many hiking harnesses for dogs come equipped with features such as reflective lining, waterproof material and removable storage pouches. Others may also have a handle on the back to help lift your pup, or pockets on the sides of the harness for carrying items like waste bags or treats.

5 Tips to Prepare Your Dog for Hiking

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or you’re just starting, you always want to be sure that your dog is prepared to go on the adventure with you. These tips will help prepare your dog for hiking.

  • Your Dog’s Health – Before hitting the trails, consult a veterinarian or use your best judgement to decide if your dog is healthy enough for hiking. If you regularly hike with your dog and your pup seems “off” it may be a good idea to leave them at home. If your dog is a senior or they were once injured, get your veterinarians “okay” before journeying into the wilderness.
  • Back to Basics – Is your dog obedient enough to go hiking? How will they do when they see other people and dogs out on the trail? It’s a good idea to brush up on some basic training skills before heading out. If you bought a new harness, you can get your dog used to it by equipping the harness on walks around your neighborhood.
  • Do Your Research – Equip yourself with hiking etiquette and leash laws when deciding on a new hike to pursue with your dog. Some trails may not allow dogs, and you don’t want to show up for a fun day to find out your dog isn’t welcome. Many National Parks have designated trails for pet parents and their dogs, or do not allow dogs at all. Brush up on regulations before jumping in the car to head out!
  • Build Their Stamina – If your dog has never hiked before or they are getting back into the hobby, don’t expect them to hike 15 miles the first time around. Participate in small, low impact hikes first. You can slowly build up to longer, more difficult hikes when you feel your dog has the stamina and endurance to make it without strain or injury. Practicing on basic hikes can also help to toughen up their paw pads and increase strength.
  • Test Your Dog’s Gear – If you have a new dog hiking harness or booties, do some test walks around your neighborhood with the new gear first. Use positive reinforcement training to get your dog used to the new harness or other hiking gear. This will ensure your dog is nice and comfortable when going hiking for the first time with your fun new gear.

Overall Best Dog Harness for Hiking With Dogs

Ruffwear Web Master Harness

Overall Best – The Ruffwear Web Master Harness is overall the best harness for hiking with dogs because it offers top notch comfort, security and quality. It’s also a great dog climbing harness. Some of the best features of the Ruffwear Web Master Harness are:

  • Padded handle for helping to load or lift your dog if necessary.
  • Harness straps are padded for extended use, like long hikes or runs.
  • Reflective lining for safety.
  • Five adjustment point for a perfect fit.
  • Two reinforced leash attachments.
  • Good for breeds like Labradors, Rottweilers, Doberman Pincher, Australian Cattle Dog, and more.

The versatility and quality of the Ruffwear Web Master Harness make it the perfect hiking harness for any dog, as it’s available in small, medium, large and extra-large.

Ruffwear Front Range Harness

Best Small Breed Dog Hiking Harness – The Ruffwear Front Range Harness comes highly recommended for small dogs who love hiking, especially because it’s available in extra-small! Much like the Web Master Harness, the Ruffwear Front Range has two reinforced leash attachments, and it’s padded for added comfort. Other features include:

  • Easily slips right over your pup’s head and attaches at the sides.
  • Reflective trim for safety at night.
  • Pocket for ID tags so your dog doesn’t have to wear a collar and harness.
  • Good for Chihuahuas, Rat Terriers, Jack Russell Terriers, Dachshunds and more.

While you can purchase the Ruffwear Web Master Harness for small dogs, the Front Range Harness may be a better option because it’s smaller overall and less bulky. Not to mention the fact that this one would most likely fit your small Chihuahua or Dachshund better.

Ruffwear Doubleback Strength-Rated Safety Dog Harness

Best Large Breed Dog Hiking Harness – We’re definitely on a Ruffwear theme here, as they make harnesses for dogs with outdoor adventure as the company’s priority. With that being said, the best large breed dog hiking harness is the Ruffwear Doubleback Strength-Rated Safety Dog Harness. What sets this harness apart from the rest is it’s built for large, strong dogs.

  • Designed to help lift and protect dogs who like to climb mountains and boulders with you.
  • Padded support and leg loops for added stability and weight dispersion to ensure comfort.
  • Rope attachment at the back of the harness.
  • Storage pocket for leg loops when they are not in use.
  • Good for Great Danes, Great Pyrenees, St. Bernard and Bernese Mountain Dog.

If you have a large breed dog or a dog who enjoys climbing with you, the Ruffwear Doubleback Strength-Rated Safety Dog Harness is going to be an excellent choice for you.

3 More Top Rated Harness for Dogs That Love to Hike

Pawaboo Dog Backpack and Harness

What makes the Pawaboo Dog Backpack popular is the usefulness of it. Not only is it a dog harness, but it also has two spacious storage pockets for hiking and adventures. The fabric is breathable and the harness is adjustable for a stable fit. The Pawaboo Dog Backpack also has a handle on the back of it for helping to lift your dog when necessary.

Kurgo Journey Multi-Use Harness

The Kurgo Journey Multi-Use Harness is optimal for dogs who like to hike, but may pull you along for a ride at times. The V-neck design ensures that the harness won’t put any strain on your dog’s neck. Of course the chest plate is padded and the buckle system is adjustable for a custom fit. The Kurgo Journey Multi-Use dog harness is great for hiking, running and walking, and will work for any size dog!

Pettom Dog Saddle Backpack

If you’re looking for a dog hiking harness that can do it all, the Pettom Dog Saddle Backpack is an excellent option. Not only is this harness waterproof, but it also features removable storage packs. Pet parents can easily distribute weight evenly in the Pettom Dog Saddle Backpack system, and take the bags off when participating in activities like intense climbing or running.

FAQ About Hiking With Dogs

If you’re new to hiking with your dog, check out these frequently asked questions before heading out on your journey.

Is hiking with dogs safe? – Hiking with dogs is safe as long as you’re prepared. It’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into. Research the trails, laws and terrain of the area you’ll be hiking in. Also be aware of what sorts of critters and wildlife you may encounter. It’s also a good idea to hike with another human companion in case there’s an emergency.

Other factors to consider when keeping your dog safe on a hike are wild plants, weather conditions, heat stroke and waterborne pathogens.

How do I protect my dog’s paws when hiking? – If you’re hiking on rough terrain or in snow or wet conditions, it may be beneficial to protect your dog’s paws. But how? Brands like Ruffwear and Ultra Paws have hiking booties made for dogs. Ultra Paws specializes in booties that fit extra small dogs, like Chihuahuas, Yorkies and Dachshunds. Since booties aren’t natural for dogs to wear, spend some time training with them on at home first. You may also want to consider bringing a spare set of dog hiking booties along with you in case your pup loses one!

How much weight can a dog carry when hiking? – It’s recommended that your dog carry no more than 25% of their body weight when hiking. Be sure that the weight is evenly distributed on their body. Factors to keep in mind are your dog’s current physical shape, age and previous injuries they may still be recovering from. Remember to keep your dog’s pack tight enough to ensure it won’t slip around and cause your dog to trip or fall, but not too tight as to restrict breathing or movement.

What other gear may we need for hiking with dogs? – Essentials for hiking with dogs can be found in this dog hiking gear list:

  • A water bottle and collapsible water bowl
  • Towel dedicated for wiping your dog’s paws or body
  • Safety light or reflective harness for dark nights or gloomy days
  • Raincoat or warm coat for cooler temperatures
  • ID tags
  • Cooling collar or vest for warm temperatures
  • Healthy treats and snacks for both you and your dog
  • First aid kit with tweezers, bandages, gauze, Benadryl for allergic reactions and alcohol wipes. The ASPCA and Red Cross have resources for creating a dog first aid kit.

Preparation is key when hiking with your dog. An exciting adventure starts with a comfortable, reliable dog hiking harness. If your dog is safe and secure on the trails, the rest of your journey will be fun!

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