Take a hike with your backpacking dog
If you are a dog lover and a nature lover, you know that including your four-legged friend on your travels make them all the better. My dog, Caddie, is a bit of diva dog. She doesn’t like getting too far from the comforts of home – her bed, pillows, and plush blankets. Yeah, she’s spoiled but she loves the woods and exploring.
Dogs are fairly low maintenance along the trail, but here are some tips for a better backpacking dog experience.
1. Know the trail policy
It is really important to know if the trail allows dogs, and if it does whether you need to leash them. Most national parks do not allow dogs in the backcountry. This is mostly because they disturb wildlife and are susceptible to being attacked by bears, mountains lions, and other dangerous wildlife.
If the trail does allow dogs but requires a leash, it is important to follow this rule. Other people hiking will appreciate you for not letting your pup run up to them when they aren’t expecting it.
But if you are hiking deep in the woods where there is no leash law and you know your backpacking dog is safe from wildlife, feel free to let him run. Your dog will enjoy the hike much more if they have the freedom to explore. But keep in mind they will cover much more ground than you and may tire quicker than you.
2. Let your dog carry their weight
They do make dog backpacks. They are great for a backpacking dog because you do not have to carry their food, water, or in my case sleeping bag. (Yup, diva dog.) When you backpack, you fuss over even an ounce of extra weight. So you don’t want to add to the weight of your pack when your dog can carry their own. There are several brands out there, so just find the one that fits your dog best.
3. Don’t forget your dog’s food
I know, I know, you think “how can you forget your dog’s food.” But I always forget something important, and unfortunately once it was Caddie’s food. I had to feed her Ramen Noodles. Just as you need extra calories in the backcountry, backpacking dogs do too. TurboPUP, is a complete meal for your dog. It is about the size of a granola bar. This is wonderful because dog food can take up a lot of space and weight.
4. Watch for their health
Make sure your dog’s vaccinations, and flea and tick treatments are up to date. Dogs are more hearty in the woods than us, but dangers can occur for your backpacking dog. When they do, your pup will greatly appreciate you for making them feel better. Carry antiseptic for paw cuts or scrapes and cuts anywhere else.
Don’t forget if you are hiking during hunting season and you need to wear blaze orange, so does your pup. This is especially important if they are off the leash.
5. Let your dog peruse the smells
Just as you look forward to the vistas and scenery, you dog loves to take in the smells. If you are on a trail that requires you to leash your pup, go at a slower pace and let you dog stop and smell the roses, or um, poop. Your dog will enjoy the hike much more.