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Do you have an adventurous dog in your life? A dog that is up for anything — rain or shine, day or night? In the past decade, we’ve had the privilege of raising seven pups for Guiding Eyes for the Blind, and each one of those pups has encouraged us to explore more. We’ve hiked mountains, paddled lakes, and camped under the stars together — our pups’ boundless energy inspiring us along the way.
With all the puppies bouncing into our lives, it’s not surprising that we’ve tested a lot of gear, from travel and training gear, to outdoor essentials. If you’re still searching for that perfect gift for your favorite adventure companion, we’ve got you covered. These are our favorite gifts for dogs who love adventures.
Best Travel Gear for Dogs
Does your dog love a good road trip? I know mine does! Having the right gear for your pup makes great road trips even better. The following products make life easier and safer for traveling with dogs.
Best Chew Toys for Dogs
We find it really helpful to give our dogs a special chew toy before heading out on long road trips. When our kids were little, we had a similar trick – giving them a special book or toy to enjoy in the car.
We only give our pups chew toys that are approved by Guiding Eyes, and we recently spoke with our vet about appropriate chew toys after our senior dog cracked a tooth on a marrow bone. We’ve taken those out of rotation, along with rawhide, pig’s ears, and bully sticks. So what’s left? Fortunately, our dog’s favorite chew toys are still allowed.
The perfect chew toy for dogs should be non-toxic and soft enough to dent with a fingernail. Here’s what’s on our dogs’ wishlist this year. We’ve put them in order with their favorites at the top of the list.
- Lumabones and Benebones – I believe that one company makes both of these brands, and Flynn and Malinda love both Lumabones and Benebones. I actually had them do a little taste test while quarantining and they both chose Lumabones as their #1 favorite, so that’s what we’ve been going with lately! These are bacon-flavored and made in the USA. Our spoiled dogs get a new Lumabone before every long road trip.
- West Paw Toys – We have had the same West Paw tug toy for more than three years! That’s saying something because we have two labs of our own and lots of four-legged house guests. West Paw toys are soft enough for old teeth and durable enough for heavy tugging. Our dogs don’t really chew on them, but they’re great for quick games of tug when we stop to stretch our legs on road trips. These awesome dog toys are made in the USA.
- Kongs – Kongs are perfect for stuffing with goodies! They are made from durable rubber in the USA. I’ll admit that a solitary Kong does not excite my dogs. The secret is to fill the kong with a mixture of something soft like yogurt, peanut butter, or pumpkin, and mix it with some crunchy treats. Put the whole thing in the freezer and they give it to your dogs when you travel or when they need some crate time.
Protect Your Car from Muddy Paws
Adventure dogs are dirty dogs, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Protect your car from muddy paws and dirty dogs with a waterproof seat cover. This hammock-style seat cover installs easily over the back seat of our car to protect it from dirt, mud, drool, and fur. It’s totally waterproof and washable and makes cleaning out the car a breeze.
When it’s just me and the dogs, I keep the car seat cover installed, but if my taxi services extend to humans, I can just fold the seat cover out of the way. I especially love it after a day at the beach, and my dogs love stretching out in the hammock. I’ve tried a few different brands of seat covers, and this one has lasted the longest so far, two years and counting. None of them last forever, especially if you wash them a lot.
Keep Your Dog Safe with a Seat Belt Harness
The safest place for a road-tripping dog is inside a secured crate. Because we don’t have room for a crate in our small car, we make use of the second-safest option — a safety harness that attaches to a seat belt in the backseat.
A harness will keep your dog from flying around if you’re ever in an accident, and it will also keep your dog from bolting into the road if you (or someone else) leaves the door open.
Wearing the harness in the car didn’t come naturally to my dogs, and they did get tangled up in the seat belt a couple of times. Like any new process, it just took a bit of practice to get it right. This PetSafe harness is adjustable, padded, and comes in four sizes. Our Labradors both wear a large.
Give Your Dog the Gift of Comfort with a Portable Bed
A portable dog bed will make your dog feel at home no matter where your travels take you. For young dogs, you can’t beat this affordable portable dog bed from Chuck It. For some reason, the listing on Amazon says it’s for dogs up to 25 pounds, but our dog loves it and she’s a 60-pound lab. We have washed ours multiple times and taken it on camping trips for more than two years, and it’s still going strong!
Flynn is a senior citizen these days, and while the Chuck It bed is fine for overnights, we like to give him something cushier to use for longer trips. We recently bought this portable dog bed from Kurgo and Flynnie loves it. It is sturdy and well made and keeps him off the cold floor or ground when we’re traveling. It’s one of the best gifts for dogs we’ve gotten him this year!
Gifts for Dogs Who Love to Hike
Hiking with dogs is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Dog’s won’t complain about steep verticals, they have boundless enthusiasm, and they’re fabulous motivators. Here are some of our favorite products for hiking with dogs.
We worked and played with dogs for years and years before discovering Biothane leashes, but now I don’t know how we ever managed. These leashes are 100% waterproof (and they don‘t get stinky), incredibly durable, and comfortable to handle. They are also made in Pennsylvania, USA.
While training and walking in town, we use a six-foot leather leash, but on hikes, we give our dogs a bit more freedom with a 15-foot Biothane leash. Our first Biothane long line only lasted a week because somebody left it on the back seat and a puppy chewed it up. Our second one has lasted 8 years, and it is still going strong. This would be a perfect gift for all the dog lovers on your list.
Stock up on Collapsible Dog Bowls
You just never know when one of these Kurgo collapse-a-bowls will come in handy while hiking, especially if you’re hiking where there aren’t sources of naturally occurring water. I’ve lost count of how many of these we have, but we always put them to good use. Keep one in the car and one in your pack, and your dog will never go thirsty again. These little bowls make nice affordable stocking stuffers for your dogs. They won’t appreciate them now, but you certainly will!
Invest in a Hiking Backpack for Your Dog
If you and your dog are graduated from day hiking to overnight trips, it’s worth looking into a pack so your pup can help out. We’ve used several over the years, and the Ruffwear Approach backpack is our current favorite because it stays put, is fully adjustable, and the straps are padded to prevent chaffing. We bought the orange one for hiking during hunting season. So far, it has lasted two summers, and it still looks good. Just a note that this pack isn’t waterproof — be sure to double bag your dog’s food, and be mindful of foul weather or dogs who are obsessed with swimming…
Gifts for Dogs who Love Winter
It took our dog a whole season to fall in love with winter. He lived for several years in New Mexico, and came back to us in the middle of February in Vermont. Snow was a sworn enemy for a while, but he’s adjusted. Here’s some of our favorite gear for dogs who love winter adventures.
Protect Your Dogs’ Paws from Snow and Ice
Most dogs will take to booties after a bit of practice, but some dogs will just throw a fit. Only you know which dog you have. Our labs don’t love wearing boots, but they do get used to them, and boots are great for protecting furry feet from salted roads and icy trails. The Ruffwear Polar Trex Boots are great for everyday use in cold weather. They stay securely on your dog’s feet and are super durable. They’re also great for walking on hot pavement in the summer.
Keep Your Dog Warm on Winter Adventures
I didn’t think I’d be one of those people that makes our dog wear a coat in the winter, but on really cold days, our dog definitely appreciates the extra warmth. Not all dogs will need a winter coat, but I think they’re awesome for breeds with short fur. This year we splurged on this coat from Johnson Woolen Mills in Vermont. It’s 100% wool and made in our home state. I’d been eyeing it for a few years and decided the time was right.
Malinda wears a Kurgo Loft Dog Jacket, which is durable and reflective, plus it comes with a lifetime warranty. It’s not super heavy, but perfect for active dogs who just need a little insulation. We love the orange/blue jacket for high visibility during hunting season.
It gets dark so early in the winter, often before we’ve headed out for our second walk. Nite Ize makes a few different LED products for keeping dogs safe, and since we were part of the Nite Ize field team a few years ago, we tried them all.
You can get collars with built-in LED lights, LED necklaces, and these super clip-on lights, which clip onto a color with a little carabiner. They are, far and away, our favorite — just enough light to alert cars of our whereabouts, but not enough to alert the whole neighborhood. They’re also great as light-up zipper pulls for people.
For more about adventuring with dogs, check out these posts:
- Does Your Dog Deserve a Road Trip?
- Winter Adventuring with Dogs
- The Complete Guide to Camping with Dogs
- The Complete Guide to Canoeing and Kayaking with Dogs
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