When Jason Locklear started Hiking Dog Co. with friend Chris Catris last year, he wasn’t looking to just start a company, he wanted to serve a community.
Not all hikers are dog-lovers, and not all dog-lovers are hikers, but there’s certainly a lot of overlap between the two. To serve the intersection of the hiker ∩ dog-lover Venn diagram, Hiking Dog Co. offers up t-shirts, hoodies, doggie bandanas, and leggings — all designed by Locklear himself.
And while Locklear certainly falls under the category of a dog-loving hiker, he also sees the struggle to take care of our public lands and find caring homes for homeless dogs. As such, every purchase from Hiking Dog Co. helps feed a shelter dog and preserve a hiking trail or wildland area.
Indeed, the brand not only makes dope threads — by giving back to the non-profit side of things, Locklear is really creating something that hikers and their dogs can rally around.
Now truth be told, everyone and their mother is trying to start their own brand these days, but there’s nothing out there quite like Hiking Dog Co. We caught up Jason to find out little more about how he started up his young company, and where it’s headed next.
Territory Supply: How did you guys come up with the idea to create apparel geared for dog-loving hikers?
Jason Locklear: The idea came easy because it’s what I enjoy doing! I have a 1.5 year old Blue Heeler and he needs vigorous exercise to stay happy. We love hitting the trails and exploring the outdoors.
TS: You’re obviously really passionate about both hiking and dogs. Do you have any tips for training your dog to be safe and under control out on the trails?
JL: Know when to take a break. Dogs love to please their people and will usually push through even when they are tired, dehydrated, or even hurt.
Being proactive with water breaks will help keep everyone safe, and prevent your pup from tiring out early.
As for control on the trails, I recommend teaching your dog basic behavioral commands such as a recall (“here”, “come”), “leave it”, “sit”, “stay”, and “drop it”.
A “total recall” is a great idea as well, which could save their life if you ever needed to use it.
TS: When it comes to trail etiquette with your dog, what’s your biggest suggestion for hikers with dogs?
JL: Trail etiquette can be summed up in a few words: Respect others’ experience and the environment.
If there are others on the trail, please don’t let your dog run about off leash. Sure, your dog might be “friendly” — but that stranger dog might not be!
They could be reactive, especially if your dog is roaming free and the stranger dog is restricted, on leash, by their owner. Even the sweetest looking pups can turn protective and aggressive in an instant.
Respect your fellow hikers by asking if your dog can approach for a “doggy handshake”, and of course, clean up after their poo on the trail — don’t tie it to a tree.
TS: A part of Hiking Dog Co.’s revenue goes toward nature conservation and animal rescue groups. What groups are you currently supporting?
JL: That’s right! Giving back to help protect our natural areas and help dogs in need is our main mission! We are currently partnered with the Arizona Humane Society, the Arizona Animal Rescue Mission, and the American Hiking Society.
TS: How do you choose which groups you want to support?
JL: We partner with groups that align with our mission to help dogs in need and to preserve hiking trails. Save a Tail. Save a Trail!
TS: Do you have any long-term goals for your conservation and dog rescue efforts?
Yes! We want to make the biggest impact possible. We are currently developing a dog first aid kit that will directly support American Hiking Society and the Humane Society.
Our goal is to provide support to these groups so that they can protect our environment and help more dogs find their forever home.
Besides our partners, we would love to organize a “Rescue Hike” where we take shelter dogs out for an adventure.
Lots of dogs in shelters don’t get enough exercise, and the exposure to more people might help them get adopted quicker!
TS: The first aid kit for dogs you’ve got in the works sounds awesome. What will set it apart from a typical hiking first aid kit?
JL: We are so proud to deliver the first Dog First Aid Kit on the market that could not only save your dog, but save rescue dogs and hiking trails as well!
The kit also looks really cool. It’s tactical/military inspired and includes all the basics every dog first aid kit requires. It can be attached to a harness and carried by your dog. We are very excited and it’s been a lot of fun developing the kit!
TS: You live in Arizona, and currently have Arizona-inspired designs. What are your plans to expand your designs to represent other states or regions?
JL: We plan to offer more designs for our States collection as well as non-state specific designs. We just released the America collection featuring stars and stripes and a painted American flag dog paw logo.
I’m working on the California design now. If you don’t see your state listed you can request one on the site. Check it out!
TS: Hiking Dog Co. is a pretty young company, but there’s nothing else out there like it. Where do you see the company going in the next couple years?
JL: We’ve only been around for less than a year – and we’ve already received so many messages from people that love the mission and the brand.
We’re just getting started, but our goal is to reach more people that love to hike with their dogs, and to make a bigger impact to help shelter dogs and to preserve our beautiful hiking trails.
Hiking Do Co. is a passion project turned into a business. It’s not easy, but I love working on it every day because it aligns with my own interests, hiking and dogs!
Follow Hiking Dog Co. on Instagram: @hikingdogco. All photos courtesy of Jason Locklear.