Whether it’s your first time taking your dog hunting or back country hiking, backpacking with dogs takes thorough preparation. Both you and your dog will be involved in this prep, so expect to be spending extra time together even before you even get near a trail. To prepare, you’ll need to take care of both your dog’s physical well-being beforehand and ensure you have the proper necessities for your dog that may not be immediately obvious.
Preparing Your Dog For Your Hike
Dogs typically seem full of energy and stamina, but this can be deceptive. The reality is that a dog’s energy will drop off quickly if he hasn’t normally been active. If you feel that your dog may not be ready for the hike you are planning, prepare sedentary animals for a planned backpacking trip by taking them on lesser hikes until they get used to exercising.
Properly grooming your dog before your hike is a safety precaution that can greatly reduce the risk of ticks and disease. As a bonus, if you groom the dog well yourself, it’s a great bonding exercise.
At the risk of contracting disease, it is important to make sure your companion has up-to-date and appropriate vaccinations. It is also advised to bring up-to-date health records in case your dog should need emergency veterinary care. Consult with your veterinarian prior to your hike to see if your dog’s vaccinations are up to date.
While On The Trails: What To Do & What To Bring
Have Proper ID
In preparation for the worst case scenario, make sure your dog carries identification. Dog tags with your name, full address, and phone number are easy to attach and should be used, but they can get separated from the dog as he runs through the underbrush. Add an implanted RFID chip for a type of ID that will stay with the dog no matter what.
Picking up After Your Dog
Many hiking trails have laws against plastic dog waste bags. However, it is possible to avoid the law by using compostable waste bags. They are only a few dollars more than regular bags and will keep your dog’s business of the trails and away from other hikers.
Give a Daily Tick Check
Ticks can be hard to spot, and even once you catch they can cause a lot of trouble. If a tick is pulled off by hand, many times the body will snap and tick and its disease will be lodged in you or your dog’s skin. A simple tweezers or other specialized tools like tick keys can safely remove a tick.
Food & Water
Both humans and dogs need an extremely large amount of water to stay hydrated every day. If your hiking trail does not have many freshwater streams to drink from, it is a good idea to bring a large amount of water and a drinking apparatus for you dog. There are several options, but the most popular tend to be water bottles specifically made for dogs and collapsible bowls. It is also a good idea to acclimate your dog with drinking out of these before the trip.
In addition to a massive water supply, dogs on hikes will generally eat about two times what they normally would at home. Hiking all day burns a lot of calories and you friend will need the energy to keep up throughout the day.
When you make camp for the night, knowing your dog’s preferred sleeping arrangements is important for getting optimal amount of sleep. Discomfort can lead to lack of sleep, anxiety, and other worrisome behaviors. A simple dog bed or fleece blanket can do wonders for your dog’s sleep. Make sure the dog is acclimated to the blanket or bed’s scent by having him sleep with it for a week or so prior to the hike.
These tips will help ensure that both you and your dog enjoy your next backpacking adventure. You’re sure to want to do it again and again once you’ve mastered the details.