By: Samantha Sektnan
If you are an outdoor enthusiast and dog owner like myself, then you too may have considered ways to include your furry canine in your outdoor activities. A hiking trip is a great way to get some exercise, explore the world around us, and bond with your dog too. In order to bring your dog on a hiking or backpacking trip, here is a guide on everything that you need to bring and complete in order to prepare your dog for the trip.
It is important that your dog has proper obedience training in order to handle the possibility of seeing other people and animals on the trip and to follow your commands and stay with you if you are able and willing to let your dog off-leash. You will also need to build your dog’s endurance and toughen up his/her paw pads through a series of shorter trips beforehand. Also make sure that your dog’s vaccinations are up to date and that he or she has the proper ID tags or microchips in case something were to happen.
There are many important items that you must bring in order for your dog to have a successful trip. Of course, you will need to bring a leash and harness or collar to keep your dog by your side and not get lost. Just like with humans, you need to bring enough food and water plus the utensils to make and eat the meals. As a general rule of thumb, use your own thirst and hunger as a general guide and be sure to stop and offer your dog water two to four times an hour depending on the temperature and trail level. When your dog decides it’s time to do their business, it would be a wise decision to bring some type of doggy bags to pick up the deed.
As a precaution, make sure to bring a map of the area and be familiar with the closest veterinarians to your hiking destination in case any dog emergencies come about on your trip. It would also be a great idea to bring a first aid kit with essential items for you and your dog like bandages, antiseptic, insect repellant, a tick remover, brush, flashlight and batteries. If you are ever stopping for the night, of course you will need to bring a tent, sleeping pad, and a wool blanket for the two of you.
If your dog is physically strong enough and you don’t want to mix the smell of dog treats with the items in your own pack, it may be wise to invest in a dog pack. It is important to remember to have your dog practice wearing the pack beforehand to make sure he/she is comfortable with it. Practice by having your dog walk around wearing an empty pack, then gradually add weight. Make sure that the weight is distributed evenly throughout the pack and that the weight is no more than 1/4 the total weight of your own dog. For more information on how to fit a dog pack, you can visit this link.
You might notice that for a human a hiking trip would be nearly impossible without a pair of good hiking boots, and the same can be said for your dog. Having your dog wear a pair of booties for a hiking trip will require a significant amount of practice and if your dog still admittedly refuses them like my dogs do, alternatives could be wearing dog socks or using a protective wax to create a barrier between the ground and the pads such as Musher’s Secret. For hot temperatures, you may want to consider getting a cooling collar for your pooch. If the weather or nights get cold, bring a dog coat to protect your furry canine. If there’s the possibility of your dog getting wet, also bring a dog towel to dry him or her off.
This may seem like a lot of information to take in, but it is essential that these things be thought about in order to have a successful hiking or backpacking trip with your dog. It is important to remember that in order to take your dog on these trips that you must take things slow and work up to more difficult or longer trips. Once you and your dog feel confident and prepared for your outing, then use this knowledge and have a great trip with your fellow canine!