It’s been a few years since you started hiking with your dog and you’ve noticed that your companion is starting to slow down a little. Or maybe it’s the other way around, and your newest addition can’t quite keep up with the rest of the pack and a dog wagon is needed.
Either way, hitting the trail is suddenly a little more difficult than it used to be.
Luckily, there is a very simple way to make hiking accessible for dogs of all ages and abilities. Enter the dog wagon!
Why Choose A Dog Wagon?
Many people are skeptical about dog wagons and strollers. No one wants to be “that crazy person” with the puppy in the push cart.
Well, if pulling along a dog wagon while hiking means that my dog can still join me… then you can call me crazy! Spending quality time with my dog is something I cherish and I’m happy to make some sacrifices to have those experiences.
Really though, there is nothing strange or frustrating about using a dog wagon if you choose a model that suits the needs of your dog.
Dog wagons are also incredibly versatile. They don’t need to be exclusively kept for hiking. You can also use them for gear storage, moving around camping supplies, or carting what feels like a million dog and human toys to the beach.
When Would A Dog Need To Use A Wagon?
There are many different dogs who would benefit from a wagon while hiking, or even just in their day-to-day life.
Some of the most common reasons a dog may need a wagon include:
- Arthritis or other medical conditions, such as hip dysplasia
- Old age
- Having a disability
- Being a puppy and/or small in size
- Feeling anxious and preferring a more controlled environment, rather than only being on a leash
- Recovering from an injury
A dog pulling wagon can also be incredibly useful for any dog during an overnight hike. It provides the dog with an opportunity to rest, while you can power on if needed.
Dog Wagon Vs. Dog Bicycle Trailers
While these two items are similar in nature, they’re not quite the same.
Unlike dog bicycle trailers, a dog pulling cart can be used at any time and does not need to be connected to a bike.
A dog wagon is also slightly more versatile and can be used for multiple purposes. They cannot be connected to a bike and need to be pushed or pulled on foot.
What To Look For In A Dog Pulling Cart
If you’re a chronic researcher, then this section is for you! We’ve pulled together everything you need to know about purchasing a wagon.
Looking for more specific recommendations? You can skip ahead to our top six dog carts and wagons.
The size of the wagon you need will depend on three factors: the size of your dog, how many dogs you’re hoping to pull, and whether you will need to leave any additional room for storage.
Investing in the right size of dog wagon will ensure a smoother trip all around.
If you choose a wagon that’s too small, your dog will quickly be uncomfortable. They are very unlikely to take to their new wagon if they’re being prodded by the edges or are unable to reposition themselves when needed. You also run a greater risk of the wagon breaking!
A wagon that is too small can also cause tension if it is being shared between two dogs. Even if they’re usually close, having to share a confined amount of space for an extended period could lead to some boundaries being pushed between your pups.
On the other hand, a wagon that is too big for your needs can also pose its own issues. When hiking or camping, you don’t want to be bringing along items that are bulkier than necessary.
Remember, however, that any leftover space can be utilized for storage. If in doubt, it’s better to size up than down.
All wagons will have a weight limit. This will vary depending on the quality of the wagon and its material.
When calculating how much weight you will need your wagon to accommodate, don’t just take into consideration how much your dog weighs on its own.
You should also factor in:
- Leashes and harnesses
- Any additional attachments that you may want to purchase separately from the manufacturer, such as shades or cup holders.
- Your dog’s gear
- Fluctuations in your dog’s weight
Exceeding the recommended weight limit can cause your wagon to break, which is a disaster waiting to happen. Nobody wants to be stuck on the trail with a now unhappy dog, who was expecting a breezy ride home!
You will want to make sure that your wagon has good shock absorption. This is particularly important if your dog is a nervous traveler, or has a condition like arthritis, where consistent bumps will make them anxious or cause them physical discomfort.
Tough, durable wheels are also crucial for anyone hoping to hit the trail.
Portability And Ease Of Use
It’s important to be realistic when purchasing a dog pulling cart.
Think carefully about the way you usually travel. If your tiny sedan is already stuffed full of camping gear, surplus equipment, and two large dogs, will you really have space for that gorgeous but incredibly bulky wagon you have had your eye on?
Probably not! You would likely be better off choosing something that packs down a little more efficiently.
Another factor that deserves consideration is how easy the wagon is to pack up and down, remembering that you’ll have at least one very excited dog in tow! If you’ll be managing everything solo, for example, you may be best off with a quick-release wagon to free up your hands.
There are so many styles of wagon available now that it’s very unlikely you won’t find a configuration that works for your space.
The Top Six Dog Wagons Of 2023
The Best All-Terrain Dog Wagon: PETIQUE All Terrain Pet Stroller
With a weight limit of 60lbs and two entrance points, the PETIQUE All Terrain Pet Stroller is the perfect accessible all-terrain companion.
The removable wheels, washable cover, and adjustable handle make this dog wagon one of the most user-friendly all-terrain options available.
For increased stability, the push cart has been designed with three tires that are similar to those found on bicycles. This style improves both shock absorption and traction and makes even the bumpiest of rides that little bit smoother. It’s built to tackle rocky and unpaved trails with ease.
The two large, built-in pockets are another great feature. I found these to be perfect for storing a sneaky snack or small pieces of gear. They really help to free up your hands, leaving you with even more ways to explore!
To expand on your adventures, you can also purchase an additional bike adaptor to swap out with the front wheel.
The Best Dog Wagon for Large Dogs: HPZ Pet Rover Dog Stroller
The HPZ Pet Rover Dog Stroller is the ultimate wagon for larger dogs. It’s durable, spacious, and cleverly designed with accessibility in mind.
This stroller has a weight limit of 100lbs and a spacious compartment, which measures in at 32” long and 20” wide. The all-terrain wheels with front suspension will let you tackle any walk with ease.
If your big pal has mobility issues then you’ll find that this stroller is a great fit. It is designed with a retractable access ramp, allowing your dog to enter and exit independently.
Have a second dog along for the ride? No problem!
The Pet Rover is not only large enough to fit two small dogs, but also has accessory hooks on the side. This means your hands are free to push the stroller while still leaving any other dogs with the opportunity to walk alongside you.
While this wagon is on the pricier side, its features make it a worthwhile investment. The weather-proof canopy and scratch-proof pet compartment will make sure you get plenty of bang for your buck.
The Best Small Dog Wagon: ROODO Escort 3 Wheel Pet Stroller
The ROODO Escort 3 Wheel Pet Stroller is the perfect small dog wagon.
Just like your dog, this mini stroller is light and compact. You’ll have no problems fitting this wagon into your car. When fully packed down, it measures in at only 33” x 13” x 6” and is perfect for smaller storage spaces.
Set up and pack down is quick and easy with the anti-pinch design and one step folding method.
The stroller itself is decently sized for both small dogs and puppies. The weight limit extends up to 40lbs, meaning that it can accommodate two dogs when necessary.
Like being able to keep an eye on your pet while you walk? The mesh windows not only increase airflow, but also allow you to stay connected with your dog while out and about. This is a really important feature to me. The last thing I want is to be separated from my dog any more than necessary.
At a great price point, you really can’t go past this cart for quality.
The Best Dog Wagon for Senior Dogs: LUCKYERMORE Dog Stroller
Stylish and practical, the LUCKYERMORE Dog Stroller will have your senior dog rolling along in luxury.
The designers behind this wagon have truly thought of everything. The five-point harness, 45lb weight limit, and oxford cloth material make for a safe and durable wagon perfect for the more relaxed stroll.
This stroller is a perfect match for your senior dog. The padded bottom is gentle on old joints. A dual entry system also allows easy access for mobility impaired dogs, and means no added pressure on your dog from needing to be lifted in and out. Simply lead your dog in and get them settled with no fuss.
For your benefit, the stroller also has a simple one-click fold down system and is compact in size. It weighs in at a slight 15lbs, making it ideal for any travel situation.
The Best Wagon for Nervous Dogs: HPZ Pet Rover Light
The HPZ Pet Rover Light is a calm, safe space for your dog to retreat to when needed.
Mesh screening provides both privacy for your pet to decompress, as well as increased airflow on warmer days.
If you’d also like to accommodate a second pet, you’ll be pleased to know that the cabin is easily expandable. You can stretch it from 13” x 13” long to 13” x 27” long. This leaves plenty of room for stretching out or bunking in with a pack mate. If your dog feels anxious about small spaces, then this is perfect for them!
For an added touch of luxury, you will also find a retractable meal bowl holder and a two-tether pet buckle system.
Exploring with a nervous dog can be difficult. The HPZ Pet Rover ensures they are kept comfortable and provides them with a home away from home.
The Best Value Dog Wagon: Pet Gear Travel Lite Plus Stroller
While it is on the smaller side, with a maximum weight recommendation of 15lbs, the Pet Gear Travel Lite Plus Stroller is the perfect all-rounder at a fantastic price point.
This stroller isn’t the most durable on the market, but it has everything you need for an easy day out with your pup. It includes a great mesh overlay that helps keep the inside cool and makes it perfect for long walks.
Personally, I found it very quick to pack down. While it doesn’t contort itself into any incredibly compact, life-changing shapes, it does fold down easily and sits flat in the car.
This leaves plenty of space for everything else I need to haul around, which is a big win!
The wagon itself weighs in at 9lbs. This makes it easy to handle as a solo traveler and means that if we encounter a bumpy patch in the trail, or my dog decides they would like to walk, I can easily carry it along instead of having to push it.
I would highly recommend this dog pulling wagon if you’re looking for a good quality stroller that won’t break the bank.
While it might feel strange or unusual at first, using a stroller opens up so many new opportunities to bond with your dog and revisit old times.
It’s a worthy investment and, with the right purchase, a dog wagon will get your tail wagging and have everyone excited to get back outdoors!