When we tell our customers we want them to enjoy the outdoors with those they love, we don't mean only their human loved ones but their furry ones too. Our pups are our companions through thick and thin, so why wouldn’t we want to bring them on our outdoor adventures? But even though they’re loyal companions we know they want to have their adventures. So, to help you get your pup prepared for your next backpacking trip, here are some of our tips.
Photo curtesy of @Dawgdog
Bond with your pup
Before taking them out, bond with them. Let your dog know they can rely on you and that you are also a companion to them. They need to know they can trust you, which will help when teaching them commands.
Teach the right commands
The commands your pup should know before you go out are: come, wait, and leave it. Nature is full of wonderful and dangerous things for your dog, and using these commands will make the adventure enjoyable and safe for them.
Ease your dog into the adventure
Use the baby-step method to get your dog ready to be your adventure buddy. Start easy by letting them roam your backyard, then move to a park where you can practice commands and take them on small walks. Once they get comfortable with that, it’s time for the dog park. Dog parks are a new environment with smells and animals, giving your dog its final test before hitting the trails.
Once you start hitting the trails, start them on easy dog-friendly trails that allow them to be off-leash. Pick one away from roadways so they can explore the new smells and sounds. Once they get used to those trails, slowly increase the length to build their endurance and strengthen their paws. And if you plan to use a Dog Pack for your adventures, help get your dog used to wearing one.
Now that your pup has been on some hikes with you, it’s time to take them on those overnight trips!
Get a dog pack
Even if you didn’t train your dog with one, your dog will require supplies and a pack for them will help lighten your load. Having the supplies your dog needs on the trip will be vital to keeping your dog healthy and happy.
Bring extra dog food
Just like you, your pup will require more fuel during your adventure. The added food will keep your pup strong for longer hikes, and it never hurts to bring extra treats for good behavior.
Watch your dog
Keep an eye on your dog to keep them safe from their environment and to see if they look tired or limping. The limping could be due to an encounter with wildlife or a plant that stuck a thorn in its paw.
Avoid areas with foxtails
Foxtails are a plant that can be fatal to your dog if it gets in their bloodstream. If you find them on your dog, grab tweezers from your first aid and remove them immediately. If you notice excessive sneezing, head shaking, eye discharge, or an abscess, it might be time to cut the trip short. Those may be symptoms that a foxtail has gotten into your pup.
Dogs and the water
For dogs who can't swim, bring a life jacket. And even if your pup is a strong swimmer, don't let them cross rivers at whitewater sections instead carry your dog across. During the colder months, to avoid your pup getting chilly if they adventure into the water, bring a dog towel so you can dry them off.
Keep your dog's water clean
Pack a water filter for your dog and a bowl. Like humans, they are susceptible to the same pathogens, like giardiasis. Dogs' reactions to unfiltered water are the same as ours, so make sure your tent companion is happy and healthy so they don't randomly get sick during the night.
Leave No Trace of your pup
Finally, follow the Leave No Trace practices with your dog's poop. The Leave No Trace principle for our feces applies to dogs too. This principle says to bury your dumps in a cathole 6-8” deep and then cover it with dirt so it can decompose. And when your dog has that urge to go, have them poop at least 200 feet from a water source. If they poop too close, use your shovel, carry it away, and bury it.
Some other essentials you may want to bring for your pup are:
- First Aid Kit
- Water container
- Safety light
- Dog coat
- Cooling collar
But in the end, the overall best advice we can give you is to have fun with your pup, be responsible with them around animals and others, and make sure you provide them comfort so their trips are just as fun as yours.
Main cover photo curtesy of huskyquoi.com