Yes, It’s OK to Spoil Your Adventure Dog

Your dog puts in long hours on the trail with you, so it’s only fair to let him gorge on a lavish meal and nap in the comfiest bed, just like you. Grayson Schaffer, adventure filmmaker, longtime Outside contributor, and dog dad to two 13-year-old British Labradors named Cooper and Gibbs, shares his pro tips on the best ways to pamper your favorite adventure companions.

Make obedience training a fun game.

One of the best ways to spoil your pets is by spending copious amounts of time with them outdoors. But you can only do so if they’re well-behaved on whatever adventures you bring them on, whether you’re playing fetch in the park or climbing a mountain together. 

Schaffer recommends starting by teaching your dogs the four main obedience commands: sit, heel, here, and stay. “Invest a lot of energy on the front end, and you’re gonna get huge dividends back,” he says. Incorporating obedience training into your outdoor activities makes it a fun game and gets dogs used to the distractions—like squirrels and other dogs—they’ll encounter on the trail. And always reward good behavior with treats.

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Furnish the house with comfy dog beds.

Even though they’re both old dogs, Schaffer’s buddies have different levels of energy. Cooper’s hips get sore on half-mile walks, while Gibbs can run ten miles. Regardless, they both love to rest their bones when they’re not accompanying Schaffer on excursions. For the sake of their comfort, he has filled his house with cushioned yet supportive surfaces like Avocado Green Mattress’s Organic Dog Bed, which is naturally hypoallergenic, resists collecting odors, and is 100% GOTS organic-certified. Plus, its base is made of coconut husks for orthopedic support, which is especially important for older dogs. Throw in a pillow for extra luxury. “They just follow me around from room to room and plant themselves on whatever is the softest thing around,” he says. “They spend most of the day sleeping, wandering, and sniffing bushes.”

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Outfit them in the proper adventure gear.

You don’t like impractical and uncomfortable adventure equipment, and neither does your dog. Keep her tail wagging on the trail with the right gear. Schaffer has a few favorite items, one being the soft booties from Ruffwear with grippy Vibram outsoles. It might take your dog a little bit of time to get used to wearing shoes, but once she does, her paws will stay protected from rough or cold terrain. Schaffer says, “It will allow them to go a lot farther and harder day after day without having to take days off to let their feet recover.”

Also in his kit for spoiling the dogs: no-spill dog bowls that keep their jowls and your floor dry at home or at a campsite; a neoprene vest to keep shorthair breeds warm on cold days romping in the snow or backwoods; a leash that retracts into its collar for quick access during off-leash activities; and a self-cleaning fur brush for keeping them soft, clean, and detangled.

Let them eat table scraps.

One of the first rules you learn as a dog owner is not to give your pets human food; otherwise, they’ll beg endlessly for another taste. Another reason is that not all foods are good for them. But because his two dogs are such good boys, Schaffer tosses out the rule. Just make sure to check with your vet to make sure your pet can digest whatever you share.

Schaffer will give Cooper and Gibbs scraps of chicken, sardines, salmon, eggs, or any other high-value, protein-packed human food to supplement their kibble. “As long as they behave themselves and are not total chow hounds with guests and making a nuisance, I don't have a problem with it,” he says.


Avocado is redefining what it means to be a sustainable, ethical brand. They practice radical transparency and a “farm-to-bedroom” approach; they co-own a latex farm, factory, and wool collective in India—from which they source and process raw materials that are handcrafted into organic mattresses and bedding in their Los Angeles factory.

Outside Magazine: Health

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