Who says you can't take your dog along on a backpacking adventure? Check out guest contributor Nicola Reynor's tips on how you can do just that.
Your dog loves the great outdoors more than you do, so taking him/her along on a backpacking adventure is definitely something you should consider, provided he/she is fit and physically capable of handling the stress and excitement of a backpacking trip. Here are some tips that will help.
1. Be Aware of the Site Rules
Almost all backpacking/hiking sites will have set rules and regulations that you will need to follow. This is not only for your own safety, but for your dog’s safety too. You also need to be mindful of the safety and comfort of fellow backpackers and their pets. Some sites may require pets to be on a leash at all times. Even if your dog is well behaved, it is advisable to keep him on a leash. This is because your pooch may encounter something in the wild that he has never seen before and you can never be certain of his reaction. You don’t want your dog to go running into the woods chasing a squirrel or to get aggressive with a wild animal. The site rules may also require you to clean up after your dog. Don’t forget to carry ample zip-lock bags and a hand sanitizer.
2. Calculate Food and Water Requirements
Assess how much food and water you'll need to carry for your furry friend. Do remember, that he will be using up a lot more energy than usual so pack accordingly. Make sure that the place you’re backpacking to has sources of fresh water.
3. Be Prepared with First-Aid
Just as you need to be prepared with First-Aid for yourself in case you get hurt, you need to ensure that you’re doing it right for your dog as well. If you can’t figure out what items to carry, you can buy a pet first-aid kit. Never try to feed your dog medicines that are meant for human consumption. Always ask your dog’s vet for information on dog medicines and any precautionary measures that you may need to keep in mind. Do carry flea and tick repellents as well.
4. Don’t Forget to Pack Clothes for Your Dog
If you know it’s going to be cold where you’re planning to go backpacking, you won’t be the only one needing a jacket. Pack a dog jacket or other dog clothes for your pooch as well. If you’re taking a sleeping bag for yourself, carry one that fits two so your pal can snuggle in with you, or just carry a separate one for him. Dog paws can easily peel and get sore from walking all day on rough terrain. You should consider buying shoes that fit your dog’s feet snugly. Have your dog break in the shoes beforehand so he is comfortable with them.
5. Make Your Dog Carry Some Luggage
When you're packing for two in one bag, it's easy to go overboard and end up with a heavy backpack.
The solution is to make your dog carry a few things- at least his own water and food. Your dog’s backpack should weigh roughly between 15%-20% of your dog’s body weight. It’s a good idea to have your dog practice walking with a backpack a few days before your trip. Line up your dog’s backpack with plastic or oven roasting bags to keep the moisture out.
6. Carry Some of His Favorites
Perhaps you are worried that your dog might not enjoy the trip just as much as you. All you need to do is pack a couple of things that your dog absolutely loves. This could be his favorite snack, a treat, or a toy.
Some dogs may not be able to sleep peacefully at night in new surroundings. If your dog sleeps on a mattress at home, pack it for the trip. Having familiar things around will ease your pooch.
7. The Important Stuff
Your dog should always be wearing an identity tag that has your name and contact information on it. It is also important to carry any papers related to your dog’s medical history or current medical condition. Your dog’s vet will be able to furnish the details. These things will be helpful should there be any emergencies.
Make sure you've got everything in place and I guarantee that both you and your pooch will remember this trip for a long time to come. Have you ever taken your dog on a backpacking adventure? Do you have any tips to share?