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Backpacker Magazine – June 2009

The Manual: Take Your Dog Hiking

Make Fido's next trip doggie heaven with our tips on finding pooch-friendly trails, loading a dog pack, and treating injuries.

by: Angele Sionna & Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan, Illustration by Supercorn

PAGE 1 2

Find a canine-friendly trail
Look for places that are "easy on the paws," advises Best Hikes with Dogs Inland Northwest author Craig Romano. Pick shady trails with soft, leaf- or needle-covered terrain; avoid paths littered with sharp rocks, off-trail routes with steep drops, or any surface that gets very hot. "Stay away from areas with heavy horse use and mountain bikes," he adds. Search by state at hikewithyourdog.com.

Fit & load his pack
Adjust the harness on your dog so it's snug but won't chafe (remove saddlebags first, if the pack allows). You should be able to fit two fingers under it. Load the bags with dog food, treats, water (some packs come with hydration bladders), bowls, and extra gear for you–this is the time for beer or another pillow! Make sure both sides are weighted equally; total load shouldn't exceed one-third of your dog's body weight.

Camp with fido Amy Devine, founder of the 300-member NOVA Trail Dogs Hiking Club in Alexandria, Virginia, keeps her pooches happy–and out of trouble–on overnight trips with these five rules.

1) Keep dogs leashed around other hikers, bikers, horses, and on steep or slippery terrain (so they don't knock anyone over). Step aside and yield the trail to all others.
2) Pack out poop on dayhikes (double-bag it!). On longer trips, follow LNT regs and bury away from the trail and water sources.
3) Bring a camp towel and brush to clean and dry dogs thoroughly before letting them in the tent. Trim nails pretrip to prevent rips in the tent floor.
4) Pack a foam pad for sleeping, and a wool or down blanket in cold weather.
5) Keep track of dogs at night with LED lights or glowstick bracelets on collars.


PAGE 1 2

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cindy
Feb 02, 2013

helpful information, thanks! I am planning to lead some dog friendly hikes in the north florida area soon.

gina in NC
Sep 04, 2012

my husband & I are taking a trip to the mountains in a few weeks, and I am so excited to take my Catahoula, he's usually pretty good off leash. He recently had knee surgery due to an ACL tear. He's just at 8 wks right now, and is in the process of short walks to get back into routine. He's a very active little guy, but recovery has been very slow due to conservative measures. I want to take him for a few hikes around the cabin we will be staying at, is that too much?

Matt
Apr 28, 2012

My dad and i are planing on going on a trip to west vrigina and we are bringing our husky and we need alot of help on finding all the things we need for him so plz help me out

Chris
Oct 12, 2011

I have hiked with my two huskies over many miles the joy of watching them get lost in their senses is a blast. They are far more aware of things I may miss especally wildlife and sounds. The first time I took them on an overnight hike there were cyotes off in the distance howling a chattering. My dogs joined in and it sparked them into jumping around and playing with each other and me. It was fun to to be a part of and I think the long hikes alone with them has created a stronger bond and pack structure. That said when you take dogs on a hike you do have to be a leader and they must already have that sense with you. They are animals with a free spirit and the backwoods will bring that out in them. You as their leader will need to be especially aware of the dangers to them and in control. In my opinion take your dogs as often as you can and just as in in life the more you do something the less wrong things will happen. Be aware of your dogs physical ability and dont over work them. If they start falling off in pace or behind you its to much and time for a break. Take your dogs...you wont regret it...I know mine are happier and in better shape because of it.

Sonya Simpkins
Sep 30, 2011

I love to hike with my dog. There is nothing better than getting out in nature with her and seeing the joy on her face as she gets to be just a dog - pure pawsomeness.
Here are five great beginner tips for dog lovers who want to enjoy hiking with their dogs but don't know where to start.
http://www.ilovedogfriendly.com/2011/09/5-tips-safe-enjoyable-hike-dog/

mary
Sep 06, 2011

Yeah the people who are "afraid of dogs" crack me up. If you are afraid of dogs then how will you deal with rattlesnakes, bears and other assorted "threats". stay home and watch tv

Jon snow
Aug 07, 2011

To not take dogs in the backcountry seems to me a betrayal of the first alliance humans made with another species.

Knoxhikerchick
Jul 12, 2011

I hike frequently with my dogs who are small. One we even carry in our pack. They are always on a leash (I have a Jack Russell who's nature is to hunt. She is never off lead). Unless you field train your dog they will invariably catch a scent one day and take off. It takes years to train your dog to go off lead and listen to your commands in all situations. We have had the unfortunate situation several times where someones "friendly dog" has lunged towards our dogs. Once we were even stalked and attacked by a dog that was with a Boy Scout troop. The owner's "he has never done this before" wasn't of much comfort after we had to defend ourselves with our hiking poles. In every situation not one of the dogs was on a leash, even though all state parks and pocket wilderness require such. It all goes back to training. Just be respectful of all on the trail.

Mary
Jun 05, 2011

Dog poop? Seriously? Do the bears pick up their shit? I pick up my dog's poop but honestly, if you can't deal with a little poop then you shouldn't be out there.

Stefan
Apr 01, 2011

@Col.Bobby
People like your friend are the problem dogs have a bad reputation. Why would he go after the dog with a "weapon" and wonder why he/her will react aggressive? Would it be too much to ask the owner whether he could leash the dog because your friend is afraid of dogs?
Also your friend might did completely misinterpreted the dogs behavior, ever thought of that, after all he doesn't sound like a dog type of guy.

Stefan
Apr 01, 2011

Hi there, just my 2 cents on dog poo and how we are supposed to clean up after her/him.
Don't get me wrong I do and I expect the same from hikers but how often did I step into actual men poo very little off trail? I can't really count anymore.
So please don't be too hippocratic here.

Col.Bobby
Mar 25, 2011

My friend was "intimidated" faced with a "snarling, aggressive dog" as he was hiking one day. The owner made no attempt to leash the dog. My friend stopped dead in the middle of the trail, waiting for the other guy to control the dog. He didn't, so my friend said "Hey, I'm not worried, I've got a can of MACE here. And he pulled it out of his pocket and started moving toward the dog. The dog owner finally reacted, to protect HIS DOG!

Dan
Jan 04, 2011

On 12-30-10 I took my Samoyed on his first camp trip/wagion pulling test.And he loved it.Only 1.4 ml. Close to my home is a secret park the only way i found that it was a park at all was logeing on my gps phone to see a sat pic of the area and came up with the map first.But this area is huge deep woods for being so close to the city.It started out nice all most 60 and it stormed badly and droped to around 19 by morning. He loved it and to my suprise was very well behaved in the tent.So now I am going to see if I can get the right stuff to try backpacking with him.The cart was a little to much to pull back there.So please wish me luck in this my health is not the best and not a lot of money to get the good gear but i am going to try to get it as light as i can so i can hack it.I had my girl help me getting the stuff back there and leading the dog and wagion.My samoyed and I need the workout Thank you Sara Dan In Kansas City

Anonymous
Aug 02, 2010

I agree-how the hell do you plan to handle a bear encounter if you cannot even put up with running into a dog? For all you Cadillac Escalade driving, caramel machiatto drinking, Gucci toting, noisy, disrespectful, anal-retentive YUPPIES out there, go back to your 3 million dollar homes and leave the great outdoors to be enjoyed by the rest of us. My dog, my man, my "kinsmen", and I are sick and tired of running into you on the trail with your white tennis sneakers, jeans, smartphones, makeup, whiny kids, cigarettes, and fanny packs. You want to experience the outdoors and "escape from it all"? Go hit up your local manicured park. Just watch out for the dogs... :)

Dogs Hike 2
Jul 01, 2010

I have no problem with dogs on trails. What I don't take kindly to is not picking up after your dog, on trail or off. If you are the kind of loser that won't clean up after your dog, you are just human feces yourself. Stay home or fall off a cliff soon.

Heather
Mar 30, 2010

I take my 8 month old Golden on 5 mile hikes. He has been great off lead and I practice recalls repeatedly. He comes right to me every time except recently, when he spotted a deer and he just took off after it. He was completly out of sight. I kept using the same way for recall (Ramsey come and 4 hand claps) and he came back within about 8 min. They were a long 8 minutes for me though. Anyone have any insights on this. I am afraid of losing him and am reluctant to ever hike off lead!!

Dean
Feb 05, 2010

I think that it all comes down to responsibility when it comes to dogs on the trail, for example Would you just squat and poop right in the middle of the trail.... I dont think so, as responsible hikers we move well out of sight of the trail do our buisness, and bury it. why beacause its polite, and I dont know about you, but I dont like the idea of anyone steping in my poo, the same rule is easy to apply to our dogs, (yes I own one too), when you see them about to go #2 lead them off the trail and then let them go. If your not quick enough for that, I know im not always, at least scoop it up and carry it off the trail. Its not alot of effort.

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