Tails from the trail and tips on training your human

Backpacking or Hiking with Your Dog: The Ultimate Guide

Backpacking - Happy Breath

Backpacking, hiking, and camping are all fun activities, to say the least. Add in your best friend, and the fun knows no bounds. Of course, more than dogs they are our companions who make space in our hearts with little puppy eyes! And any doggy parent knows very well just how accustomed to their presence we get; so much so that every outing is incomplete without them by our side. However, it is very important to ensure certain aspects such as your little pals’ food and safety are taken care of.

So, if you’re looking for major things to be kept under consideration when planning little backpacking and hiking adventures with your dog, look no further!

Does Your Pup Like Hiking?

This is the first step to consider. Hikes or any other such adventures will be enjoyable only if your dog actually likes them. Granted, almost all dogs berserk with joy at the mention of walks, but still a backpacking trip or hike is quite a different story. Plan a shorter trip and take your dog along just to see if it is actually completely on board with the idea. For the most part, dogs love being outdoors, and so hiking is really their thing.

Things to Consider

  • Like all pets, and somewhat like human babies, dogs too have health and age concerns which must always be kept in mind. You can’t expose all types and ages of dogs to the same exertion levels.
  • The first factor to consider is the age of your dog. If your canine friend is too young or too old, it’s best to avoid hiking or backpacking. Younger dogs may lack the strength or stamina for long hikes, and older ones can get tired out very quickly.
  • Next up, evaluate the health condition of your dog. Hiking, backpacking, and other such adventures often require rigorous exercise as well as exposure to harsh elements of nature. They need to be in the prime of their health if the trip is to be a success. Make sure you keep your dogs’ capabilities and limits in mind when planning your trip. Not all dogs can partake in vigorous exercises. The breed of the dog for instance also matters with this respect.

The level of training of your dog is also an important factor. Some questions to ask yourself are: how trained is your dog? Does your dog always respond when called by you? Are they accustomed to being on a leash?

Trail Regulations

When you’re planning your hike, ensure the trail you intend to go on allows dogs. There are many instances of trails on which dogs aren’t allowed. An example would be hiking trails in national parks which often do not allow dogs. For this reason, it is essential that you conduct an appropriate level of research to avoid any disappointments.

Things to Pack

Just like you need to pack essentials for yourself, you’re going to need to pack some for your canine friend as well.

  • Poop bags are probably the first things that’ll spring to mind. The trail you go to should be maintained in clean and hygienic conditions for others, and therefore cleaning up after your pooch is absolutely essential.
  • Hikes and backpacking adventures include interactions with elements of nature. Accidents can occur, or your little friend may fall sick. Packing a comprehensive first aid kit can prove to be very helpful in these circumstances. You can often find first aid kits specifically designed for dogs/pets, or you could compile one yourself.
  • It should include some heavy-duty or gauze bandages, a squirt bottle filled with saline, some antiseptic wipes or antibiotic ointment, splinter remover, antihistamine, and a pain reliever. For pups, the pain reliever of choice should be something like buffered aspirin. Regular ones such as Tylenol have been known to cause internal issues in dogs. It’s best to get one after consulting with the vet.
  • Rubber gloves can prove to be very handy.
  • A muzzle should also be kept for instances in which your dog gets very rowdy or prone to a bite such as during treatment of any injuries.
  • Food & Water

Just like you would for yourself, make sure you pack an adequate amount of food and water for your dog. To make your own life easier, get a pouch that your pup can carry. After all, your dog ought to carry its own weight in life. The specific amount of food and water that your dog would need for the trip depends on your dogs’ appetite as well as how strenuous your hike is going to be. So for instance, if you’re going for a day pack at least a day and a halfs’ worth of food just to be on the safe side. There are even energy bars for dogs, to administer a much-needed energy boost!

Sleeping Gear

This applies only if you’re going to be spending the night camping somewhere, and obviously not to day trips. It really depends on your own level of comfort and attachment. Some owners prefer to let their dogs sleep in their own tents, while some like a separate one for their canines. The only really important thing to consider here is whether your dog is warm and comfortable enough to get a good nights’ sleep.

Clothing for Your Mutt

In case your camping trip is in particularly harsh weather, ensure your dog has clothing to keep it protected and warm at all times. It is definitely a funny sight, but some dogs do need some extra help in maintaining body temperatures.

Bottom Line

The things you are going to need depend a great deal on the specifics of your hiking trip, as well as the requirements of your dog. Dog harnesses and collar clip-on lights, as well as pet wipes are some other items that can be very helpful for hiking, backpacking, and other outdoor adventures.