If you love the great outdoors, then you are sure to want to bring your dog along for the fun. They just enjoy it. It is their natural habitat. They can run, play, and be who they were meant to be. You will never see a happier dog than one in the trees, plains, and streams, running with their tongue out and rummaging through the grasses. If you want to upgrade your hike, then you are going to need 10 Tips for Backpacking and Hiking with Your Dog. This piece is sure to help you out.
Let’s get started.
1. Take Your Pooch for Some Practice Runs
Start small with your regular walks. Most dogs cannot handle a sudden backpacking trip. It will be too much for them. You need to start them slow and build up their stamina.
That is the best way for them to be ready for all the rigors of the trail you are about to throw at them. Your dog needs to be physically ready before they start backpacking. Take them on short hikes through a park near you. Increase the distance. Have them carry around a backpack. You are backpacking after all.
The most important point is to ease them into the rigors of trail life. Undoubtedly you started with hiking before you went camping. The same goes for your best friend.
As they say, the best way to cook a lobster isn’t with a sudden shock, but with a slow cook hot tub.
2. Choose the Right Trail Fit for Your Dog
Not all trails let dogs onto them. I know plenty of parts of Yosemite do not let dogs onto them. Some areas of many parks are recovering from devastation or just need time to get back on their feet. If you see a sign stating ‘no dogs allowed,’ then you need to get off the trail with your pet.
Dogs don’t respect trail boundaries like we do. For them it is all one big adventure. If they can go off the trail safely, they will. It’s totally something they will do. Some parks are more okay with dogs going off the trail than others.
3. Protect their Paws with Some Booties
Glass, gravel, hot ground, and the like can all put a damper on their adventure. You wear boots. Your dog, more often than not, does not. They go bare paw so to speak. The other day I was walking to class and saw broken glass on the ground. Case in point, some nasty ground can rip open your pooch’s paw if worse comes to worst.
You do not want the innocent yelps for help on your conscious. Play it safe and grab some booties. You put potential problems in the back of your mind.
They need to wear boots just like you.
4. Keep Your Dog Under Control – Have Treats at the Ready
If this is your dog’s first outdoor adventure, then you are taking them to a brand new world. They will be excited and wanting to explore everything they can. If you’re not careful, an energetic dog can surprise even the most low key hiker. That hiker may not be a happy camper. In other words, when you are in a hiker heavy area, it’s time for your best friend to wear the leash. You can then keep them under control.
You can keep them under control with plenty of treats and water. If someone has had a treat, they are a lot less angry. I know from experience. ‘Hanger,’ hunger plus anger, is a real thing. Nothing will satiate your dog faster than a full stomach.
The same goes for water. I am a lot calmer when I have plenty of fluids in me. Everything flows. A portable doggy bowl helps quite a bit.
5. Your Pet Needs to Follow Leave No Trace Principles Too
Keep baggies at the ready. This will be your best bet. They are my go to on any trail with my best friend. Watch them do their business, whip out a bag, grab, seal, throw in a pack, and back to the trail. It makes life a lot easier.
If you are one of those people who forgets a baggie, I understand. It happens. No one is perfect 100% of the time. If they are, I would love to talk to them. Anyway, you can leave their poop in the wild, but it needs to be 6 – 8 inches deep and at least 200 feet from water, camp, and trails.
This means following leave no trace principles like you would for yourself. Just because they make smaller poops than you doesn’t mean they are exempt from the rules.
6. Be Sure to Take Frequent Breaks
The vast majority of dogs are meant for short sprints, not long backpacking trips. Fido needs time to recover for a bit. Reward them for their good behavior with food, water, and treats. Pat and massage them for all their hard work. They deserve it. You know they do.
The larger the group you are in on a hike, the more time you need to allow. You aren’t by yourself, so you are committing yourself to the group needs. Put the group first. The same goes for when you are with your dog. The group only moves as fast as its weakest link. Depending on the type of dog you have, this may or may not be your Fido. Take care of them.
Listen to their pants and watch their body language. This gives you an idea of how they are doing. Slow the pace down as needed.
7. Know How to Give Your Dog First Aid
Accidents happen. Sometimes they’re the good kind like a surprise birthday party from everyone who ever cared about you. And other times they’re the not so good kind like a surprise fall or a pie in the face. It’s okay. They happen. You cannot control everything that happens to you. No matter how prepared you are, you can be caught off guard. You just need to know what to do when they happen.
Many of the supplies you bring along for a regular ‘human’ backpacking trip can be used with dogs. You might want to bring the following extra items: superglue to patch torn booties and paws, EMT gel to take care of wounds and help heal the body, vet wrap, a dog-safe antihistamine for surprise stings, and Gas-X for bloat.
Your best bet, though, is to talk to your dog’s veterinarian. They will know all the ins and outs of your beloved friend. They can talk you through everything you need to know.
8. Bring Your Dog’s Favorite Toy
Nature has plenty of tricks and treats for your pooch, but nothing will get your pup’s attention like their favorite toy. It really gets them going and under your control. It calms them down and snaps them to attention. If you hold a ball in front of a dog, their focus will astound you.
Your dog’s favorite toy can give them something to do in camp and prevent them from running off to explore.
9. Make a Cable Line at Camp
This involves tying a rope between two trees, attaching your dog’s leash to a carabiner to the rope, and then leaving your dog alone. They can then run around as much as they like while staying in camp under your watchful eye. You will know where they are.
10. Check His or Her Paws, Fur, Belly, and Neck
Ticks like to latch onto pets. It happens. You have clothes on, but your dog doesn’t. They are more vulnerable to pests they you are. It is okay. Life happens. Check them all down from head to toe to tail to tongue. Don’t miss a spot on Spot. Nothing ruins the party faster than a fat tick.
Are You Looking for More Dog Supplies?
You should now be all set to go. I hope you enjoyed this article as much as I did writing it. Follow these tips and you are sure to take well and good care of your beloved Spike.
Before you go though, you should check out one of my previous articles, Dog Camping and Hiking Supplies – Preparing Your Pet for the Wild. It will be sure to tell you all about the supplies you need for the journey ahead. I cannot recommend the article enough. If you want to ensure your best friend is well taken care of, then you are sure to find what you are looking for to give them the very best.
If you have any thoughts, questions, or think I missed anything, do not hesitate to comment below and please share the article. Thank you so much and I hope you make it a great day!