If you’re like us, there is only one thing more fun than enjoying the outdoors; enjoying the outdoors with your faithful dog at your side! While most people have taken their dogs on a day hike, far fewer have taken their dog on a multi-day backpacking trip. Here is how to get started:
Part 1: Going the distance
First thing is first. Does your dog enjoy long hikes? Before you decide to take your dog backpacking, take your dog on hikes and see how they handle it. Our dog Blaze lights up when he sees any trail. If your dog isn’t as excited about a several hour walk in the woods, maybe consider a different activity. Once you have decided that your pup does indeed enjoy hiking as much as you do, it’s time to build up a bit of fitness. Start with shorter regular hikes and be consistent. Over time increase the length of your hikes to something similar to the length of your trip. Want to go 14 miles over 2 days? Try hiking 7 miles Saturday and 7 Miles on Sunday beforehand to see how your dog handles it.
Part 2: Sleeping
Some dogs will go to sleep just about anywhere. Others are very particular. When you take your dog backpacking they will be sleeping in a tent with you. We recommend going on an overnight camping trip with your dog to see how they handle the sleep situation. We found that Blaze is on high alert in new surroundings. It took us a few tries to figure out how to make him more comfortable. We also introduced him to the tent at home to make sure he was used to it.
Part 3: Training
We highly highly recommend that you have full recall with your pet before you take your dog backpacking. While most places require that you keep your pet on a lead, there will be times that they are not. Just in case your pet takes off after an animal or other distraction, you want to be certain they will come back. In addition, make sure they know how to walk nicely to ensure you both have a pleasant time. Days of pulling will have both you and your dog annoyed. We used sit means sit for our training and would highly recommend them!
Part 4: Packing
Bringing your dog along does mean you’ll have to make some changes to your packing list. Remember to pack water for your dog or do extra filtering. While dogs love to drink from streams, ours does, we always try to give Blaze filtered water to prevent him from contracting parasites. You’ll also have to pack food for your dog. If you give your dog a pack to carry their own food, make sure they have practiced with it and built up the stamina to carry it. Just like us humans, they need to train too. We opted to carry Blaze’s food so that he could handle the longer hikes more easily.
Hopefully this has been a helpful guide to taking your dog backpacking! Blaze loves it and we know your dog will too! Let us know of you have any tips or tricks in the comments below, and as always, happy travels!