Sep 27, 2006 at 2:10 am #1219721
I have a 4 month old australian cattle dog that I am thinking about taking on a two day hike/climb up the Zugspitze in Germany. The climb is class 2 but does gain about 2000 meters over the two days. I’ve been excercising him reguarly but have not taken him on any real hikes (hikes that last for more than an hour).
Just wondering what all the backpacker who take their dogs think?Oct 6, 2006 at 10:48 am #1364405
Bill LawBPL Member
@williamlawLocale: SF Bay Area
I’ve taken my German Shepard Dog backpacking on weekend trips (up to 3 nights) since he was about a year old.
I did take him on lengthy day hikes prior to that, and the first overnights weren’t major expeditions. You might want to do that before a big trip.
Issues you might face are: How will the dog eat out of its normal routine? How about sleeping? Will the dog refuse to walk back out? How does its feet stand up to rough terrain? You might want to know the answers to those questions prior to committing to something beyond your dog’s abilities.
Also, I’m not sure how close 4 months is to fully-grown (probably it isn’t). So maybe that’s too young for too strenuous of a trek.Oct 6, 2006 at 1:22 pm #1364411
Generally speaking, a 4mo. old pup still naps quite a bit. Over the years, I’ve had many pups and have two now (one 4mos; one 9mos). IMHO, 4mos is too young. Consider also your pup’s vaccinations. Since you’ll be in “the wilds”, check with your veterinarian – you might want to consider Lepto & Lymes vaccines. Normally, Vets like to space out vaccines so as not to overload a pup’s immune system. Yours is not a tiny breed, so this isn’t quite as big a problem. However, by 4mos your pup probably should have had all of its vaccines (including any which require second vaccines in order to develop a proper immune system response), with the possible exception of Lepto & Lymes. Keep in mind that any vaccines given before 12weeks might not have produced an immune response in a pup (antibodies received from the pup’s mother might intefere with the pre-12wk old pup’s own immune systsem response). so called “Kennel Cough” (Bordatella, a bacteria, and parainfluenza, a virus, plus possibly some other viruses) is an exception to the 12wk rule. Two doses, sometimes given as early as, 4wks and 8wks of age, but usually older is fine; though many Vets will consider the 4 & 8 wk numbers a tad too early – note that “Kennel Cough” is probably NOT absolutely necessary for your plans since your pup will have minimal contact with other dogs. Also, consider monthly treatments for heart worm (mosquito borne) and flea & tick (this might make a Lymes vaccine moot, but i personally still vaccinate for Lymes). Finally, your pup is still young and so might not wander too far, but until one’s dog has advanced obedience training (off-lead recall in particular), unless you want to risk loosing your dog, don’t take the dog off-lead. At home, at 50 meters or more, i could call my dogs off of cats, squirrels, etc. with a voice just slightly above speaking – not need to yell and sound angry. IMHO, if a dog won’t consistently obey a spoken command (one command only – NO repititions of the comamnd required for obedience), they shouldn’t be taken off-lead. I’ve seen too many State Parks and Forests with posters for lost dogs. You might also add in off lead obedience training with whisper commands (first with you in sight and then with you out of the dog’s sight), like we used in the Military back in the early 70’s, as a gauge of how much control you have over your dog. This might be used to gauge how well your dog will obey when distracted/”tempted” by the call of the wilds). Obviously, distraction training is very important for proper obedience training.
Talk with your Vet. about this entire plan and at what age your Vet. feels this planned hike is appropriate.
The prev. poster’s astute advice on conditioning is well worth adhering to.
BTW, Australian Cattle Dog = great dogs. Good choice for a canine companion. Very intelligent. Often require a firm hand in training, but are very intelligent and can be highly trained.Oct 7, 2006 at 2:54 am #1364452
Einstein XBPL Member
@einsteinxLocale: The Netherlands
Wild animals will smell your dog the moment it gets out of your car. No chance of ever seeing deer than. In addition, if you’re walking up wind from wild animals and they suddenly see your dog you scare the living crap out of them, causing them to flee (how do you spell that), possibly spraining an ankle or sepperating mama deer from bambi.
Now don’t go confusing me with a greenpeace tree hugger or WNF (I’m against panda bears) but i think taking a dog hiking goes into a lot of LNT ethics.
I wanted to hike with a dog for years (though i don’t have one) but decided that once i have a dog i won’t taking it hiking since i want to leave no trace. And me being there is already a lot of trace leaving.
Just MHO and $0,02
EinsOct 9, 2006 at 12:32 am #1364520
I didn’t see anyone’s post until just now and we already did the climb. He did great and it was really nice to expose hime to new things. Since it was all uphill, we weren’t hiking that fast which really enabled him to stop and rest while we caught up. As for scaring any animals, this was in the German Alps which have been very very little wildlife when compared to the states. I was really pleased with the way he performed. Yes, he was tired when we finished, but now he gets really excited when ever I pull out my backpack. In fact, I went climbing in Switzerland this past weekend and when he saw my pack he immediately ran to the car and as soon as I opened the door he jumped in with the look that he was ready to go. It took a couple of minutes to finally get him out of the car and my wife said he was trying everything he could to get through and over our fence when he saw me drive off. ACD are a hearty breed and I’ve owned them since I was a kid growing up on a ranch in Idaho. Sometimes I forget just how much this breed can handle.
Thanks for all the input.Oct 9, 2006 at 10:00 am #1364531
Bill LawBPL Member
@williamlawLocale: SF Bay Area
>Wild animals will smell your dog the
>moment it gets out of your car. No
>chance of ever seeing deer than.
My dog and I see plenty of deer every time we’re out. Plus coyotes, bobcat, rabbits, squirrels, gophers, pigs, quail, turkeys, owls, etc.
I guess the wildlife in these parts isn’t as paranoid as you seem to be :-).Oct 18, 2006 at 12:54 pm #1365102
Mark RegaliaBPL Member
@markrLocale: Santa Cruz
I have been hiking with dogs for years. I can’t say that it has any impact on how much wildlife I see. In fact their alertness to wildlife has tipped me off to seeing animals I would not have seen otherwise.
Hiking with dogs is a great experience for both the dogs and their humans.Oct 18, 2006 at 4:05 pm #1365120
I always hike with my dog. I see MORE wild life with him than without him! Again, due in no small part to the fact that a dog has senses far beyond mine and is more alert to scents and sounds I cant even imagine!Nov 15, 2006 at 7:04 am #1367221
karl hafnerBPL Member
@khafnerLocale: upstate NY
From a breeders prospective a 4 month old
dog should not be taken hiking or backpacking. I would worry about bone developement. While hip and elbow dysplasia are partly genetic there is good evidence to show that it is also developemental – both with diet and with
use or abuse or bones. You don’t want your dog to be unable to go for hikes in the future or markedly shorten its ability to go with you. The other is disease. At four months there are still several diseases that can kill a puppy. Immunizations are not complete yet. We have had dogs (puppies) die from walking on grass in public places. They picked up a disease. We raise Bernese
mountain dogs and cavalier king charles spaniels. In general I won’t take a dog backpacking until it is 18 months old and been well trained and used to long (several miles) of flat walking. I have dogs out backpacking at -30 degress F. They can be a lot of fun. You don’t want to shorten that fun.Dec 4, 2006 at 8:33 am #1369346
Okay – don’t laugh but I have a little Shih Tzu puppy who will be full grown by spring. His full grown weight will be 18 pounds. He loves to walk and he has done a lot of camping and some wilderness paddling trips. Do you think that this dog might be able to go on backpacking trips with shorter days (we also have a 5 year old child so we can’t do more than 8 to 10 miles a day right now)? Or should I just seek out a good kennel/dog sitter?Dec 6, 2006 at 3:39 pm #1369728
Karl is right, 4 months is TOO young. I didnt mention it before because the original poster had already gone his trip, but for any future readers, 4 months is WAY to young, and for some breeds, even 12 months may be too young.
Laurie – A healthy and well conditioned shih tzu should be capable of physically going for short day backpacking trips. The problem comes in with that lovely hair-do. They were bred to live in a palace and never get dirty. Unless you gave your pup a severe hair cut, He is very likely to finish the trip a dirty, dusty, twig filled, knotted mess.
But if your willing to comb him out every night, he might enjoy himself just fine.Dec 6, 2006 at 5:12 pm #1369737
Thomson (named after famous painter/outdoorsman Tom Thomson) will not be one of those poofy-frilly-boys – a closely trimmed puppy cut all the way. I was more worried about his stamina for 10 to 15 mile days.Dec 7, 2006 at 4:40 am #1369789
Conditioning – just like for a human. Work up to the 10-15mile days. He'll need more calories, and sleep, than normally though.
Bottom line: ask your Veterinarian.
IME, i've found most Vets, at least the ones we've used, believe adult dogs are more capable of certain feats than their owners give them credit for. Of course, while not as bad off as a the current incarnation of the Bulldog (they were a bit longer nosed and longer legged 100+ yrs ago – cf. 19th cent. paintings and ceramics, etc.) when it comes to respiration, Shih Tzu's have been the product of selective breeding which has somewhat compromised certain aspects of their canine capabilities. Our Pug was surprisingly capable of long walks at normal walking pace. However, if running was required, he didn't have the stamina of a Cairn Terrier, for example, or other longer/more_normal_length nosed breeds – again, that selective breeding which is easily seen in the Pug's head structure. Now, my Akita, Rottweiler, and a close friend's Boxer i cared for for quite a while, could easily go faster and farther than i ever could.
Now, the Bottom Line: consult your Vet.Dec 8, 2006 at 12:13 pm #1370004
I just got off the phone with our vet (poor Thomson is going in for the snip snip on the 22nd) and he said it would be fine but recommended that we give him an additional set of shots and reminded us to do the same thing you mentioned – work up to it.Dec 9, 2006 at 5:22 am #1370096
Consider Lepto (water borne, but can also be acquired fr/other dogs or their urine) & Lymes (deer tick vector) vaccines (administered separately) if your dog is going to be out in the wilds. We insist on both.
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