- Jan 5, 2020 at 6:49 pm #3625718Amin EBPL Member
I want to start hiking with my dog. What considerations should I be thinking of? Other than training him to condition him to do good mileage.
Any recommendations for gear?Jan 5, 2020 at 7:04 pm #3625721
Well, assuming you are from the U.S. it is Winter now, won’t have to worry so much about your dog overheating. Small dogs are more sensitive to cold.
You will need to bring a bowl for water, and enough water or water sources for you and your dog.
A big thing to consider would be the terrain: sharp ice or rocks are unkind to dogs’ feet.
If your dog is in good shape then your walking pace may not be enough exercise … I’m happy with this one: .Jan 5, 2020 at 7:05 pm #3625722
Not sure what happened to the link.Jan 5, 2020 at 7:07 pm #3625723Paul WagnerBPL Member
@balzaccomLocale: Wine Country
Please also note that on most trails, your dog is required to be on a leash or under tight verbal command. If your dog chases wildlife you may be cited, and other hikers may not welcome your presence.
And in national parks, dogs are only allowed on paved trails and on a leash.
That said, many of us here hike with dogs, and as long as you follow the rules, you will find it a great adventure to share with your canine companion.Jan 5, 2020 at 7:09 pm #3625725
Hiking or backpacking?Jan 5, 2020 at 7:50 pm #3625731Amin EBPL Member
thank you all for the info.
He is a german shepherd, so Im not too concerned with the cold. I am worried about his feet and the terrain. Winter hikes would be along the florida trail and Spring/Summer hikes would be on the Appalachian trail.
We would be hiking/backpacking for 4-5 days, sleeping in tents or hammocks.Jan 5, 2020 at 8:39 pm #3625735H WBPL Member
You don’t offer much info on where you’ll hike or backpack or what king of dog you have. That makes a huge difference in how you’ll get your pup up to speed. Here’s my experience.
My lab has been hiking in the Rockies for the past 3 years. Presently, summer only. Began just before he turned one and we summited the 14er Mt. Elbert. Training is important to get them physically prepared. That means increasingly longer walks and hiking in different terrain and weather conditions. Dogs are loyal and will please you to their death so you need to be in tune to their health on the trail. Leg spreading, blue gums or tongue, vomiting, lethargy are symptoms to watch. Overheating is major concern during summer. In my case, labs are very vulnerable with their double coats. I’ll let him lie in streams if I see he’s over-panting to cool off. He enjoys that.
If you’ll be backpacking the gear you’ll need IMO is an expandable leash, pack, and booties if crossing talus fields or scree — note: a bleeding pad is not something you want to deal with on the trail. Ruffwear has been my go to source for all his equipment. Their leash connects around your waist allowing hands free operation and it will expand to 6-7 feet. I also carry a vibration collar. Sometimes he needs a reminder to do the right thing. In less traveled areas I do allow him to be off-leash but voice command response is very important.
On overnight trips when we might hike 11-13 miles per day my dog carries his bedding, booties, food, and first aid kit. Water is very important, especially at higher elevations or high heat conditions, when he will drink over quart of water plus from streams along the way before we stop for the day.
It’s very rewarding to venture out with a fury companion especially when they’re ready for the effort but you don’t start with a 10 mile 2K elevation gain trek on rocky terrain. It’s an incremental process. My companion has so far summited ten 14ers in Colorado, hike the 47 mile Snowmass Wilderness Capitol Creek Circuit crossing 5 passes all in 3 days, and done multiple overnight backpacking trips some under very difficult conditions. Just be smart and you’ll both have fun being together.
PM me if you want to view his instagram page of his adventures.Jan 5, 2020 at 8:42 pm #3625736
In which case here’s a picture of your dog with it’s Ruffwear pack:
I’ve taken my dog backpacking for two nights in the Colorado mountains in the Summer. Definitely cooler temperatures than what you describe, and yet that two-year-old dog pictured above is definitely tired after a full day of hiking. They just can’t easily rid their bodies of excess heat.Jan 5, 2020 at 8:43 pm #3625738
We take a 20x20x 3/8″, 5 ounce, chunk of blue foam protect the tent floor and to establish “Place”. Dog (50#) goes there and stays there.
If he trains with you in a typical trail environment his feet will be fine by the time you’re ready to go. And stay ahead of keeping his nails short. A “quick trim” before the hike won’t end well.
Please let us know how your dog does in the hammock.Jan 6, 2020 at 2:06 am #3625751David ThomasBPL Member
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
If cut pads are something you need to avoid or possibly deal with on the trail, you can spend $30 or more on name-brand Codura dog booties that are stiff and (relatively) heavy. Or, you can do what Iditarod dog mushers do and get lighter-weight ones for $1 each (at least they used to, in bulk, from local sewers).
I’m very glad I trained the current dog to return to me when she senses someone or something ahead on the trail. This is because 1) the thing ahead could be a moose or bear, 2) I don’t think it’s polite for my dog to barrel through another party of hikers, 3) she’s black so many people panic initially thinking that she’s a black bear, and 4) many hikers in Alaska are armed (see #3). When **I’d** sense someone or something ahead, I’d call her back and praise and treat her. Very quickly, she was coming back on her own for the praise and treat and she can sense critters and humans long before I can. I’d leash her up and we’d walk past / through the other party, then I’d let her off leash again. (You need a solid, reliable “come” command first).
I’ve also trained her to not poop or pee on the trail. She goes into the bushes to do her business.
Musher’s “mile up” their dogs each season and start with 2 and 3-mile runs (admittedly, they’re running, not walking and pulling a sled, not just themselves), but they develop their muscles, endurance, and foot pads over many weeks until they’re doing 50 to 100-mile days.
I try to walk the dog 2-5 miles most days of the week so she’s already ready for a 10-mile day. There was a backpacking trip where our family stretched out over 1 mile of trail and she (a lab-aussie) felt compelled to run from the first to last person, repeatedly to check on all of us. We did 13 miles each day, but she probably did over 30. After the 3-day trip, she was pooped out for days afterwards.Jan 10, 2020 at 7:27 pm #3626488Diane “Piper” SoiniBPL Member
@sbhikesLocale: Santa Barbara
I’d say you can probably just start small and work up to longer trips.
One time a lady came on one of my Sierra Club hikes with a dog. An 11 mile hike in Southern California. Her dog was a Lab. A little more than half-way, her dog’s foot pads were coming off! That’s a big heavy dog. We could not carry it. Someone had some duct tape so we tape up the feet and he was able to keep going.
It would have been a lot better if she had worked her dog up to longer trips. From the look of it, that dog had never done an 11 mile hike before.Jan 10, 2020 at 7:46 pm #3626490Ken ThompsonBPL Member
@hereLocale: Right there
And hope they like it. I had one that would not tolerate a tent and one that wanted to be home at night.Jan 10, 2020 at 8:16 pm #3626492Mike MBPL Member
Conditioning is obviously important, especially if there is much distance/elevation gain involved with your hiking/backpacking. My little guy racks up a little over a 1000 miles on the trails a year (averaging 20 miles/week). I started with him very slowly and just gradually worked up.
In the winter with snow I use Musher’s Wax on his feet (he won’t tolerate booties)- they provide a little barrier, keep snow from sticking and it’s good for their pads. I also have a little insulated jacket when it’s really cold (or if we’re camping).
Dogs are natural athletes, they just need someone who will provide them the training.Jan 10, 2020 at 8:19 pm #3626495
One other note –
Take extra rations for the pooch. You (or your dog) might carry some of it out but better to much than to little. The next time you go you can refer to your post-trip notes to dial it in.Jan 11, 2020 at 12:04 am #3626507Sam FarringtonBPL Member
@scfhomeLocale: Chocorua NH, USA
Long ago was hiking the AT in Maine for the umpteenth time, and ran into some hikers with two large aggressive dogs and a small Shetland Sheep Dog (Sheltie). Watched the Sheltie dodge around, under, between and behind the big dogs, and they couldn’t touch her. The hikers told me about Shelties, and I thought, some day I’ll own one..
So a couple decades ago I did, then got another,. They both passed away, so got two more, both rescued dogs. Here are a few of them – first Shoki, named after Mt Chocorua:
Next, Gwia, named after Sacagawea:
And our newest member, Sparkie:
These are all called ‘Tri-Color,’ though I’ve had two sables (brown & white). Shoki was the smartest. She came as a puppy, and when she made her first poop in the house, I pointed it out to her and asked her not to poop in the house, and please do it outside. You might not believe it, but that was all it took. One time I forgot the headlamp and we were caught in the dark bushwhacking on the side of Mt Chocorua. She led me and the chestnut brown and white Sara all the way home in the dark, pausing every few yards so we could follow her by the white ruff around her neck.
Gwi was a breeder in a mom & pop puppy mill, but they didn’t like her puppies, and gave her to me at four years old. Sara, the sable, was blind in one eye, with a history of abuse; but Gwi became her big sister and changed her life. After Gwi died following a two year battle with cancer, it took Sara 3 days to figure out she was gone for good. Sara sobbed all night – I had never heard a dog sob before.
Sparkie came from another puppy mill in Dixie and was hyper beyond belief. She had been in a pen 24/7 crowded in with at least two dozen other pups. She was kicked out of doggie day care on a pretext. Four months trying to house train her and I was beginning to give up hope. Then one day all of a sudden she was house trained. She is very stubborn, like Sara was when young, and decides when she is going to go along with my requests. Eventually, all is well.
I often get the feeling that these pups are like angels sent from heaven. They make life such a delight.Jan 11, 2020 at 5:38 am #3626519matthew kModerator
Question: my dog doesn’t seem to want to eat or drink enough when we are hiking or camping. I haven’t been bold enough to backpack with her yet. She’s not nervous, she wants to go with us, wags her tail, has a great time…
She did chow a couple Triscuits with PB on a recent hike. She couldn’t say no to that.
Any thoughts?Jan 11, 2020 at 7:32 am #3626530Diane “Piper” SoiniBPL Member
@sbhikesLocale: Santa Barbara
Doesn’t that happen to people, too? They aren’t hungry the first few days of a trip.
So many cute dog pictures!!!!! I love that one with him bouncing up the hill in the snow! I don’t have a dog. I have a ^*%$#! cockatoo.Jan 11, 2020 at 7:50 am #3626532Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
I passed someone with dog that cut its feet on sharp rocks. They were really struggling.
Maybe some sort of booties, depending on whether there are sharp rocks or notJan 11, 2020 at 7:56 am #3626533matthew kModerator
I carry a dog FAK when she joins us. Vetwrap (similar to Coban), a set of 500d booties and a couple styptic swabs. I check her feet often and they seem to hold up even on the DG so prevalent here in AZ.Jan 11, 2020 at 8:10 am #3626537Mike MBPL Member
@matthew- we would bring dry crunchies for Elvis and he wasn’t really enthralled with them when backpacking- at home we mix meat/vegetables into his crunchies, but obviously a little tough to do on the trail. My wife suggested bringing a little thing of bacon grease and adding bit to his food- just a very small amount mixed in with his crunchies was enough to get his interest back in the food
I also use little treats on our hikes/backpacks, he loves those and while not a ton of calories- he’s getting a few calories as we go
he’s not much for drinking out of creek/lakes, but if we bring a little bowl he does pretty goodJan 12, 2020 at 9:46 am #3626653Tipi WalterBPL Member
My dog Shunka spent 15 straight years backpacking with me and he used a large Adventure 16 pack which could haul up to 18 days of his own food. The only time I used a leash was in camp to keep him by the tent and prevent him from running up to new arrivals.
In deep snow Shunka would struggle thru high snow drifts so I had to remove his pack and wear it around my neck until we got out of the deepest snow. See pics—Jan 12, 2020 at 2:02 pm #3626696David UBPL Member
I just picked her up yesterday. Can’t wait to get her out on the trail in the summer (on 8 weeks right now).Jan 12, 2020 at 4:21 pm #3626731KatttBPL Member
She is already awesome! What a beauty .Jan 12, 2020 at 4:38 pm #3626734David UBPL Member
Thanks Kat – how are things??Jan 12, 2020 at 4:57 pm #3626737KatttBPL Member
things are good, thanks for asking. Other than the reality of aging…these have been the best few years of my life. Busy as always, projects, goals etc. Not enough backpacking lately but plenty of outdoor time nonetheless.
welcome back. I hope you’ll hang around .
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