By LAUREN NELSON

Whether it’s a day trip to a dog-friendly state park or a weekend away at a disc dog competition, preparation is key. But where does one start to prepare when a simple Google search can deliver an abundance of overwhelming recommendations? Easy. Start here!

Before any shopping begins, make an appointment to visit the vet. Having a dog up-to-date on vaccines and ensuring their microchip is working will make trips away from home less stressful. A quick checkup can also prevent any minor unnoticeable injuries from escalating while hiking or participating in any physical activity. After getting the go-ahead from the vet, pack these five essential products that are a must-have for an easy, breezy trip.

1. Harness With Leash: Choosing a harness over a traditional collar can prevent injuries and can give the handler more control. A harness disperses the pressure from one smaller area on the neck, to the back and the body. Harnesses are also great training tools as they discourage pulling. When a dog is wearing a collar and pulls on the leash, they are still moving forward, which makes them think the pulling is successful. A harness, whether attached on the chest or between the shoulder blades, redirects them. There’s no reward because pulling doesn’t get him anywhere. Harnesses have varied features and uses to help decide which caters best to the specific needs of each dog. Do your research before deciding on the best fit for your dog. Consider the safety, durability, style, comfort and cost.

Some options may include:
• Nylon
• Soft mesh
• Fleece
• Cooling
• Reflective or light-up LED
• Easy-walk
• No-pull
• Heavy-duty
• Padded neoprene
• Front-clip, back-clip or tightening
• And more…

2. Poop Bags: Being a responsible dog owner means picking up after your dog and being mindful about how the bags affect the environment. GreenLine Poop Bags are strong, durable bags that are designed to be biodegradable anywhere, even in landfills.

3. Water Jugs & Bowl: When traveling anywhere with a dog, bringing water is a must, and there are several different collapsing bowls or traveling mugs. For instance, Kurgo’s Collaps a Bowl makes it very easy to give your dog water on the go. This travel companion is barely an inch thick and collapses to fit anywhere. It holds up to 24 fluid ounces and is dishwasher friendly as well as BPA free. When thinking about packing water, the ASPCA recommends bottled water to avoid upsetting your dog’s stomach with new tap water.

4. Food and Treats: Every dog works up an appetite when taking on new trails or participating in high-flying competitions, so packing snacks is non-negotiable. It’s also a good idea to keep kibble and treats on hand to reward good behaviors throughout the day and work on obedience training. Choosing the right food or treats is subjective. So go with your gut since you know your dog best.

5. Flea and Tick Collar: In the outdoors, fleas and ticks wait to pounce and can cause some serious health issues if they find their way under your pets’ fur. In addition to using preventive care every year when going outdoors, especially during the spring and summer when fleas and ticks are most active, it’s important to have extra protection. Earth Animal Flea and Tick Collars have a special combination of Virginia Cedar, Peppermint and Almond Oil, and the collars to repel both fleas and ticks. They are safe for animals, humans and the environment. When returning home, don’t skip checking your pets’ fur for fleas and ticks after they’ve been in the outdoors.

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