Dobermans need a lot of exercise and love a good adventure with their owners. They’re great for going on hikes or long walks with since they’re instinctual pack animals and love being near their owners at all times. Before you go on your walks or long distance backpacking trips, there are a few pieces of gear you need to make sure you have.
Besides daily walks with my Doberman, I have been on a handful of multi-night backpacking trips. My first trip was a disaster because I had a backpack that didn’t fit my Dobie’s broad chest right and a dog hiking bowl that kept collapsing when he was trying to drink from it.
I’ve since tried many other products and have finally found what I believe is the best walking and hiking gear to have for a Doberman.
This Dog Leash – I am not a big believer that you need anything fancy for a dog leash. In fact, in a lot of ways, simpler is better (as long as it’s strong). This is a leash is just that, simple and strong. It’s 6 feet long so you can do most training exercises with it (just choke up on it for short-leash work) and it’s made with 1-inch wide, double-layered material, so it’s very strong. I used to recommend a fancier version on my site with padded handles and plastic hardware on it, but those just didn’t seem to hold up near as well as the simple and sturdy options like this one. The complexity in training a Doberman shouldn’t be in the leash, keep that part simple!
This Dog Harness – For the money, this RabbitGoo harness is the best dog harness I’ve found. Personally, I don’t use a dog harness but many people swear by them as a training tool. Just make sure it has multiple leash attachment points (with at least one in the front, like this one does). The front attachment point is a great way to stop chronic pulling issues in your Dobie while on the leash. Don’t spend tons of money on a pricey brand, this one works great according to many Doberman owners. It’s durable and washable. Get the X-Large version for an adult Doberman.
Best Dog Backpack
This Dog Hiking Pack – I love this backpack and have gone on many multi-night backpacking trips with my Dobie wearing this pack. It’s by Ruffwear which is well known for durability. The model is the “Approach” pack. It’s lightweight but very durable, comfortable for my dog, water-resistant (which is great for crossing streams), and highly visible. The Large/X-Large version fits adult Dobermans perfectly. Its price is also very reasonable.
Must-Have Walking/Hiking Accessories
This Collapsible Dog Bowl – This Ruffwear dog bowl (the model is “Bivy”) is a perfect water bowl to stick inside your Approach Dog Pack. It collapses up small, seems very durable, lightweight, and a very good buy for the price. I bought the medium-sized bowl which works fine for me and is a bit smaller, which is nice when carrying everything on your back on a long trip. Get the large-sized bowel if that’s not as important to you and you want a little extra room for your Dobie’s snout.
These Dog Boots – If you are going on a long hike with your Doberman, you really should bring a set of dog boots for emergencies. These AsmPet Dog Boots are a bit cheaper so they should save you some money, but are still decent quality. These are only for emergencies, so they don’t need to hold up to daily hikes. Get a size 8 (3.5 inch x 3.2 inch) for most Dobies. You want it slightly larger boot to handle a bandaged foot.
This Pet First Aid Kit – I spent hours trying to find the perfect kit and this is as close as I could find. It’s a really good idea to have a good pet first aid kit with you, especially on longer hikes. It’s not very big and the only thing it’s missing is some Benedryl in case your dog has an allergic reaction to something on the trial. Pick up a small to-go pack of Benedryl from your local drug store, add it to this kit, and you’ll be set.
Taking your Doberman out for daily walks is very important. They’re working breed dogs that love to get outside and see the world. Daily walks will help keep your Dobie content while you’re gone and keep him from destroying things in your house out of frustration.
When going on a walk, make sure you have a very strong leash. I recommended a leash at the top of this article that I believe is probably the best compromise between strength and price that you can find. A Doberman Pinscher is a large, powerful dog and the last thing you want is the leash to break apart if they try to take off.
Also, make sure to bring a roll of dog waste bags to clean up after your dog. I’m not going to tell you to get anything fancy. These are bags meant to clean up your dog’s poop after all. Just something basic that’s not going to break the bank. I use Amazon Basics Dog Waste Bags (Amazon link). They’re great bags that are cheap, don’t ever have holes, and come with a small (but useful) dispenser.
Using a Harness vs. Collar
There’s a lot of debate about using a harness when going on walks with a Dobie versus just a collar. I believe that a harness encourages pulling on the leash (and even makes it comfortable to do so). However, there are many Doberman owners that swear by them, saying that their dog stopped pulling once they got a harness.
If you are using just a collar and leash to walk your dog, just make sure they aren’t pulling so hard that they could harm their throat. If your dog is pulling, it’s time to invest some time in training your Dobie to walk with you instead of getting a harness, in my opinion.
Whatever you choose, make sure you get one that’s washable (important), at least somewhat reflective at night, big enough for a Doberman’s broad chest, and very sturdy. The RabbitGoo harness I recommended above seems to fit the bill well.
Walking at Night
Walking at night can be dangerous for a Doberman since they have very dark coats. This is especially true if you are going for walks where there may be busy streets nearby. Make sure your dog is very visible no matter if you’re walking through the suburbs or on a mountaintop during a backpacking trip.
There are a few things you can do to help make sure your Dobie is easily visible at night, despite their dark coat. Try some of these methods for increasing their visibility to you and others in the area.
- Reflective leash. When walking with your dog, the leash is often hanging or outstretched. If you have a leash with reflective stitching of some type, it can really increase the visibility of your dog at night. The BaaPet leash I linked too at the beginning of this article has this feature.
- Brightly colored/reflective dog backpack or harness. I’ve found while backpacking with my Doberman in the thick forest during the evening hours, that he can be very hard to spot even if he’s only 20 feet or so away from me. His natural coat is just so dark. I use the bright orange-colored RuffWear backpack which really helps with this.
- Clip a light to their collar. Don’t replace your tough Doberman’s collar with a cheap light up one that’ll break if they start pulling on the leash. Instead, just use a secondary light up collar that you can put on your dog in addition to their normal collar. This LED Dog Collar (Amazon link) is reasonably priced, customizable to your dog’s neck thickness, and is rechargeable. It lasts about 3 to 4 hours in its “slow flash” mode
Just remember that safety comes first. You can never really make your dog too visible at night. It’s important that people on the road can easily spot your dog if the worst happens and he runs into traffic. It’s also important that you can see your dog if you are in an area walking without a leash.
Long Distance Backpacking Trips
Dobermans can be great for long-distance (and overnight) backpacking trips. I’ve gone many times on backpacking trips into the national forests in northern California with my Dobie Cooper. It’s amazing how well these dogs do off-leash if you are in an area where this is allowed.
Doberman’s are pack animals and will bond very strongly to their owners. This is part of the reason they’re so good for personal protection. The great thing about this is that they are usually very aware of what’s going on if you go out into a national forest with them. They’ll typically stick very close by your side and won’t wander off at all. That’s why Dobies are often called “Velcro Dogs.”
The last trip I went on with my Dobie Cooper was a three-night backpacking trip into the forest. During those three days out on the trail, I didn’t have a leash on him at any time. He always stuck near my side. He hauled his own food in his RuffWear backpack (the one I used on this trip is linked to at the beginning of this article) and insisted on being next to me at all times. His behavior is typical of Dobermans in this type of situation. If you love the outdoors, get your Dobie involved!
The biggest issue to be aware of, is that Dobermans don’t do well in the cold. So if you find yourself backpacking overnight with your Dobie, take extra precautions to keep him warm, especially during the night.
Your Doberman’s backpack shouldn’t weigh more than about 25% of their body weight.
When packing a backpack for your Doberman, remember the general rule that their pack should never carry more than about 25% of their body weight. So if your dog weighs 100 pounds, limit the weight of the pack to about 25 pounds. If your dog isn’t used to carrying a backpack with some weight in it, start them off at about 10 or 15 percent of their body weight until they get used to it. Of course, old or very young dogs should carry less.
Dealing with Injuries
You should be prepared to deal with injuries to your Dobie. This is especially important if you are on a long hike far away from help. There are many injuries your dog can sustain while on a long hike with you that can quickly become a major issue if you are miles away from your car.
That’s why it’s extremely important to keep a first aid kit for your dog on you (or in your dog’s backpack) at all times. I finally found one kit that is about as close to perfect out of the box as I think is possible, and I linked to it at the start of this article. It has antibiotic ointment, gauze, bandages, tweezers (for removing foreign objects from the paws), and even solution to clean out the eyes.
The only thing this kit is missing is something in case your dog has an allergic reaction. This can happen from something they eat on the trail or a sting from an insect. Once you get this kit, make sure you pick up a small pack of Benedryl from your local drug store to add to it.
Damage to their paws while hiking is also very dangerous. If your 100 pound Doberman is limping because their paw has a bad cut and you’re 5 miles from your car, what are you going to do? That’s why it’s important to have a pair of dog boots, antibiotic ointment, and bandages with you. That way you can disinfect and wrap the wound, then put their paw in a dog boot. They’ll be able to walk easier without destroying the bandages on the way out.
Your Doberman absolutely loves to get out and walk. Trust me, it’s in their genetics. So make sure you take them out frequently on some adventures so you’ll have a more relaxed dog at home. Just be prepared with quality gear, be safe, and use a little common sense.