Hiking and Backpacking: How to Prepare Your Dog For a Smooth Trip

While training your dog for a backpacking trip may seem excessive, it’s very much needed.

You can’t expect lazy Cooper to turn into a marathon hiker overnight, just as you can’t expect him to behave like a good boy without proper training.

Unfortunately, it takes time and effort to get your dog in shape. Some dogs are easier to train than others, but it’s a step that shouldn’t be skipped if you want to have an enjoyable camping trip.

You shouldn’t worry, though. This guide will help you understand how physical and behavioral dog training works.

How to Build Stamina & Endurance In Your Dog

Your dog will have to cover many miles for which his daily 30-minute walks are certainly not challenging enough. You want to improve his fitness so you both will have a good time on the trail.

Fortunately, it’s very easy to do so. Any activity where your dog starts panting is a good choice. This could be jogging, power walking, hiking or fetch.

And don’t be afraid to push your dog. He can handle quite a bit, but keep an eye on him and know when to stop. Panting is normal, but if your dog starts breathing laboriously, you’ll know it’s time to take a break or return home.

Pushing your dog also means gradually increasing the level of difficulty. So if you hike 30 minutes one day, you want to increase that to 50 minutes two days later, and so on. Or you may want to try a trail with a little uphill climbing to save you some time.

How to run with your dog:

How To Toughen Your Dog’s Paws

If your dog is already an experienced hiker, he won’t need this training. However, if he’s a lazy guy who only takes 15-minute walks, his paws are not strong enough for the conditions he’ll face, especially if you plan to hike a rocky trail!

The good news is that you can train his paws, making his skin thicker, just like people grow calluses on their feet.

And it’s pretty easy to do so as well. Just take him on longer walks, preferably on the sidewalk or other hard surfaces. This will naturally make his paws stronger while increasing his stamina.

Alternatively, you could buy him dog boots to protect his feet. Don’t forget to pack spares, though, because it’s not uncommon for a dog to lose a bootie. Or you can smear wax on his paws to keep them moist and protected from rough surfaces.

 

How to Train Your Dog to Wear a Backpack

You didn’t think you’d have to carry all his stuff, right? There’s no way your dog is going to get off that easy because a dog backpack will allow him to carry his own snacks, water and belongings.

But, this is easier said than done. Many dogs are skeptical and don’t like changes in their surroundings, let alone changes on their back. The solution? Get him used to carrying a backpack by taking small steps.

Here’s how:

#1 Choose the right pack

Of course, it all starts with choosing the right backpack. Let’s look at the different options and features that make a dog backpack worth your money.

You have three main categories of dog backpacks:

  • Hydration packs: These are primarily designed to hold water bladders, but they can also have room for additional items, such as treats or a small leash.
  • Day packs: Generally, these packs are not intended for multi-day hikes, but they can still suffice if you’re willing to let your dog get off easy.
  • Multi-day packs: Designed for multiple days on the trail, these packs can hold more items than a hydration or day pack. Needless to say, they are more expensive and heavier too.

Smaller dogs are able to carry less, so it only makes sense to keep a close eye on the weight of a backpack. There’s no need to buy a heavy, multi-day pack for your Papillon dog if you can’t use all of its space.

As explained a bit farther down in this article, the carrying load for your dog should, in general, not exceed 25% of his body weight. So if he weighs only 15 pounds, he’ll be able to carry 3.75 pounds at most.

Larger, multi-day backpacks can also weigh close to 2 pounds, which leaves only 1.75 pounds for his gear.

Since 1 gallon of water weighs 2.20 pounds, that would already exceed the recommended maximum weight. So in this case, you’re better off buying a hydration or daypack, both of which are about twice as light as a multi-day backpack, meaning your dog can carry more gear.

Use this way of thinking and apply it to your situation to decide what kind of backpack would be best for your dog.

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But choosing a backpack doesn’t stop here. In addition to capacity and weight, there are other factors to keep an eye on, as backpacks from the same category can still differ based on:

  • Durability: You want heavy stitching in places that are vulnerable to tension, such as the handle or leash hook. Don’t go cheap on the fabrics either. Canvas and nylon are the best options because of their durability. For a small dog, however, this aspect is less important because he can’t carry as much weight and because there will be less tension when you pick him up or when he pulls on the leash.
  • Breathability: Some backpacks have a mesh design or leave out as much fabric as possible. This not only makes the backpack less heavy but also improves breathability, which can be important for warm hikes, especially if your dog has a thick, insulating coat.
  • Color: Look for an orange or red backpack, as this will make your dog stand out and easier to spot if he runs away. This is especially important if you’re backpacking in hunter territory. Orange is the color commonly used to make it clear to hunters that you or your dog are not prey.
  • Waterproofing: Most dog backpacks are water-resistant, meaning they can handle light rain. For heavier rain, however, you’ll need to purchase an additional rain cover of the appropriate size or make one yourself by using plastic bags.
  • Chest padding: If you intend to lift your dog by pulling on the handle of his backpack, make sure it has enough chest padding so that the straps won’t hurt your dog.
  • Removable saddle bags: Some backpacks have removable pockets on both sides, meaning you can remove them and use the backpack as a regular harness. You decide whether or not this is important.

#2 Introduce the pack at home

Your dog feels most comfortable in his familiar surroundings, so it’s only natural to start his training at home.

First, let him thoroughly inspect the backpack with all his senses. Reward him generously with treats, as this will show him that his backpack is something he can trust.

When you think he’s ready, put it on his back without fastening the straps. Again, give him some treats and attention. This way, it’s more likely that he’ll be happy at the sight of the backpack because he associates it with a fun time.

After a few training sessions like this, attach the straps and give him a few treats. The video below shows you how.

Once the straps are attached, let him walk, sit and turn so you can see if there are any restrictions on his movement. Perhaps some straps are too loose or too tight, so adjust as needed and mark them so you know where the best fit is.

#3 Go on walks with an empty pack

Once he feels comfortable wearing his backpack, you can go on your daily walks without any extra weight. Pay close attention to your dog to see if there is anything abnormal about his behavior that could indicate pain or discomfort. If so, try to determine what the problem is and act accordingly. You may need to adjust the straps or even buy a new pack. That’s unfortunate, but imagine finding that out in the middle of the wilderness…

#4 Add appropriate weight

Generally speaking, you don’t want your dog to carry more than 25% of his body weight, but needless to say it all depends on your dog’s breed.

Some dogs can safely carry 40% of their body weight because they have a higher muscle-to-body weight ratio, which means they’re stronger. These are usually the “working dog breeds” and include the German Shepherd, Alaskan Malamute or the Bernese Mountain Dog.

But it’s not because your dog doesn’t belong to a working breed that they’re not capable of carrying a heavy backpack. Some breeds are bubbling with energy and are still able to carry a backpack that exceeds the recommended weight.

You should, however, keep in mind that some breeds are prone to certain diseases. German shepherds, for example, are at high risk of developing arthritis, just as Pugs suffer from Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome, which interferes with their breathing.

Your dog’s age may also limit the weight of the backpack. In fact, puppies shouldn’t go backpacking until their bodies are fully developed, let alone carrying a heavy backpack. The same can be said for old dogs that show signs of aging.

That’s why it’s important to research your dog and know his potential. Consult your vet for the most accurate evaluation.

But despite your dog’s capabilities, you want to start low and gradually increase the weight of his pack. Start with about 2% of his body weight for less athletic dogs and 5% for more athletic ones. Work your way up if your dog seems okay.

When is he not okay? Well, if he’s slacking behind, feeling stressed, taking breaks or feeling sore after his walk, then you know you have to cut the weight. Consult your vet if you’re not sure what’s the problem, especially if your dog belongs to a breed that should be able to carry a lot of weight.

#5 Change the terrain

Ideally, you want your dog to hike the same terrain you’ll encounter during your trip. This could be sand, dirt, the woods with a couple of fallen trees or even a rocky trail where your dog has to maneuver between rocks and boulders.

It’s a good way to train your dog’s balance, and in the meantime, he’s also getting stronger, toughening his paws and training his endurance.

How to Train Your Dog To Sleep in a Tent

Some dogs like to sleep in a tent while others may dig, bark or desperately try to chew through tent walls. Obviously, you don’t want to find that out during your trip. Therefore, it’s a good idea to first introduce your dog to your tent and see what he thinks of it.

Here are a few tips:

  • Let your dog explore: Just pitch your tent in your backyard so your dog can sniff it as much as he wants. If you’re afraid of scratching, buy a $20 tent or use your old tent. When you think the time is right, ask your dog to go into the tent. If he doesn’t want to, try enticing him with treats.
  • Feed him in the tent: Just put his bowl in the tent and let him eat it right there. Make sure to put something underneath his bowl so that your tent doesn’t get filthy.
  • Sleep with your dog in the tent: To prevent your dog from getting restless at night, it’s a good idea to sleep in the tent with him for a few nights. This way, you prove that the tent is a safe place to sleep.
  • Let your dog get familiar with mesh screens: To ensure your dog doesn’t burst through the mesh screen of your tent, make sure he can sniff and touch it before you zip it up. There are plenty of stories about dogs who ignore the fact that mesh screens are actually barriers and run right through them.

If he doesn’t seem to cooperate, meaning he keeps whining and pacing all night long, you may want to bring a floorless shelter for your dog.

In this case, however, you want to keep him tethered at night or you may find him bursting after deer at 3 am. Something like a Knot-a-Hitch Dog Tether System should do the job. Combine this with a floorless shelter, a sleeping pad and sleeping bag if needed, and you’re good to go.

Why Training Your Dog’s Behavior Is Necessary

You want to have control over your dog, especially if you plan to let him hike off-leash. Backpacking with an uncontrollable dog is not only exhausting, but it can also be unsafe in certain situations. Here are a few examples:

  • You might come across a snake, and if you can’t get your dog to leave it, he may very well get himself into trouble.
  • Some single-track trails are so narrow that a small misstep could put you in grave danger. Having a dog that constantly pulls his leash is obviously unsafe in this case.
  • Bear encounters are uncommon but they happen. Again, having an uncontrollable dog will put you both in danger.

Not only do you want to train your dog for your peace of mind and safety, but also out of respect towards other hikers. Imagine you encounter another dog and yours gets all worked up. He starts barking, whining and pulling on his leash, but you still have to pass the other dog on this narrow path. The owner of the other dog will most likely be annoyed by your loud, overexcited dog, and you will be embarrassed by your dog’s behavior.

You constantly have to keep an eye on him since he can’t be trusted, and he may put you both in danger and bring chaos to the relaxing environment.

Training your dog benefits both you and your dog. It strengthens your relationship with him. You’re doing your dog a big favor by giving him treats and keeping him entertained. He gets to meet other dogs and people more easily because he remains calm. All in all, a trained dog is a happy dog.

 

How to Improve Your Dog’s Behavior

If you’re hiking a busy trail, knowing that your dog is going to lose it when passing a stranger is stressful to say the least, especially if you can barely control his strength.

It may be excitement, aggression or curiosity, but whatever it is, you want to have it under control. And by applying the right methods consistently, chances are your dog will learn to behave quickly assuming there’s nothing seriously wrong with him. Seek professional help if there is.

I discuss the most popular tactics recommended by professional dog trainers. They work for the majority of dogs, but that doesn’t mean it will work for your dog. I’m by no means a professional, and it’s recommended that you contact a professional dog trainer or take a dog class if the tactics below don’t work.

Fixing overly excited behavior

Many dogs get overly excited when seeing another dog. They’ll start pulling, barking and whining. Your goal is to train him to the point where he stays calm enough so you can pass people without having to stress.

Here are a few tips:

Let him socialize: By participating in group classes or letting him play with other dogs on his daily walk or in a dog park, he’ll get used to socializing with other dogs and in turn be less excited.

Just know when it’s time to intervene to make sure no dog fight breaks out.

Use the “stay calm and reach your goal” method: Have a friend and his dog approach you and your dog. From the moment your dog starts getting nervous, signal your friend to turn around and walk backward.

When your dog is calm again, repeat until your dog learns that sitting calmly means that the other dog will approach, while getting excited results in the exact opposite.

You can also try the tactic explained in this video if the above tips don’t work:

Fixing aggressive behavior

Aggressive behavior is a serious problem, and solving it can be a long, tedious and hard process. You’ll probably have trouble dealing with your dog’s aggression, especially if it’s because another dog has bitten him in the past.

Your best option is to consult a professional. Dog trainers can lay out the options and teach you how to improve your dog’s aggression.

To find a professional dog trainer, ask your vet for a recommendation or contact the Association of Professional Dog Trainers.

You also want to go see your vet because just like you, dogs are in a bad mood when they’re having pain. Aggression may be a consequence of an underlying medical problem, so if you can identify that problem and help your dog, it can significantly improve his aggressive behavior.

How to teach your dog the basic commands

The basic commands ensure a safe, stress-free backpacking trip. They’re extremely helpful for both leashed and off-leash hiking.

In total there are five commands you want to teach your dog:

Look at me

Why? It’s necessary to teach your dog other commands. You’ll be able to point your dog’s attention to you on command.

It creates a way to build communication, and it’s one of the first commands you want to teach your dog.

How to teach it: 

The closer your face is to your dog, the easier it is to teach this command. So you first want to do this exercise while sitting on a chair, only when that works out, you can progress to standing straight.

  1. Put your dog’s favorite treat on his nose.
  2. Say “look at me”.
  3. Draw it up towards your face. This is important, otherwise your dog will be focused solely on the treat and won’t take your command into account.
  4. When you make eye contact, say “yes” or use a clicker and give him his treat. Saying “yes” or using a clicker makes it extra clear to your dog that this is the right behavior.
  5. Repeat

Once this goes smoothly, you want to make it more challenging for your dog:

  1. With no food in your hand, touch your dog’s nose.
  2. Say “look at me”.
  3. Draw your hand up towards your face.
  4. When you make eye contact, say “yes”.
  5. Reach into your pocket to take a treat.
  6. Bring his treat up towards your face to avoid confusing your dog.
  7. And finally, reward him by bringing it towards his nose in a straight line.
  8. Repeat

You can take it a step further by waiting a few seconds before saying “yes”. However, if you notice that he’s losing focus, you want to shorten the time again.

When you think your dog is ready, you can take it to the highest level and add a distraction. Let him look at something else and say “look at me”. If he looks at you immediately, say “yes”, reach into your pocket for a treat, bring it to your face and reward him.

Once that’s working, you can start implementing this tactic into your daily life to make this command rock solid. Whenever your dog looks at you, say “yes”, take a treat, bring it to your face and reward him. It’s a great way to get your dog to look at you more often.

 

Sit, down and up

Why? To increase the calm, controlled behavior and discourage the out-of-control, overly excited behavior. It’s for convenience as well. For example, to let your dog sit and not disturb you while you set up the tent.

How to teach it: 

  1. If your dog is too excited, wear him out first by hiking or letting him chase a ball.
  2. Hold his favorite treat in your hand.
  3. For sitting, slowly move the treat to your dog’s nose and then over his head. This will make him sit naturally. From the moment he sits, say “sit” and give him his treat.

For lying down, you want to do the same but move the treat down to the floor, which will make him lie down. From the moment he lies down, say “down” and give him his treat.

For standing straight after sitting or lying down, simply move a treat above his head, and again, he’ll stand up naturally. Say “up” and reward him.

  1. If that’s going smoothly, you can say “sit”, “down” or “up” in advance. You can also take it a step further by waiting a few seconds before giving the treat.
  2. Repeat, have patience and stay excited. Don’t ask for too much too early, but instead gradually increase the difficulty.

 

Come

Why? Dogs are curious animals, and sometimes their curiosity puts them in life-threatening situations, like when he’s swimming or nearing a cliff on the trail.

How to teach it: 

  1. Start in a safe environment, like your house, where there are little to no distractions.
  2. Depending on your dog’s personality, you can use treats or toys to attract their attention and get them to approach you. You also want to use a high-pitched voice, sounding excited and not boring. This will make it more fun for your dog and easier for you.
  3. When he’s walking towards you, by seducing him with a treat or toy, say “come” right before he reaches you. This way, you’re exposing the connection between “come”, him approaching you and him getting a treat or play with a toy.
  4. If it’s too easy, increase the distance or switch up the environment and add distractions. If it is too difficult, you want to reduce the distance as much as necessary. If that isn’t working, make it even easier for him. Put a treat on his nose and lure him towards you. Say “come” and give them the treat.
  5. Repeat and have patience.

 

Heel (commanding him to walk close to you)

Why? To train your dog to hike off-leash or to stay close to you when there are people walking by. Is he a leash-puller? This command will teach your dog to walk beside you.

How to teach it: 

  1. First of all, you want to make sure that your dog mastered the “look at me” command. He should also have no trouble following a treat in your hand.
  2. Get him in position by luring him with a treat. You can choose next to your left or right leg, but you want to choose one side and stay consistent.
  3. Once he’s nicely lined up, you want to make it clear that it’s a good thing by giving him a whole bunch of treats.
  4. If that’s working, it’s time to start walking. You want to make sure he keeps looking at you by using the “look at me” command. The trick is to show him the treat by holding it in front of your face. His attention should be fully focused on you.
  5. If he’s walking too fast, don’t reward him. If his pace is good, give him a treat.
  6. If he’s improving, you can start introducing the word “heel”. Just say it once in a while and give him a treat right after if he’s doing good work.

 

Leave it (commanding him to ignore something he’s interested in)

Why? Let’s face it: your dog has eaten many things that are not edible. This may be a rotting sandwich, a dead bird, or worse, poop. Well, the “leave it” command makes it clear to your dog that he should ignore it.

How to teach it: 

  1. Grab a treat and hold it in your hand so that your dog can’t get to it. You should be closely positioned to your dog. The closer your face, the easier it’ll be.
  2. Let him sniff your hand thoroughly. From the moment he stops sniffing and looks the other way, say “yes” and give him the treat.
  3. After doing this a few times, say “leave it” right before you say “yes”. Now you’re introducing the connection between “leave it”, him not focusing on the treat and him getting to eat the treat.
  4. When you think your dog’s ready, make it more challenging by dropping the treat on the ground and laying your hand over it so that your dog can’t eat it.
  5. Say “no”, making it clear to your dog that he’s not getting the treat. However, from the moment their attention shifts to something else, say “yes”, pick up the treat and give it to him. The treat should come from you, not from the ground!
  6. If that is going all right, you can again say “leave it” right before you say “yes”.
  7. Repeat, repeat and repeat.

 

 

(click the one you want to teach your dog)

How long will it take for your dog to learn these? About 1 to 6 months, 3-5 sessions a day with each session lasting no longer than 10-15 minutes.

It depends for the most part on the age of your dog. If he’s still a puppy, he’ll learn these commands quickly. Old dogs require more dedication and patience, but training them is still possible.

In addition, some dog breeds are too hyper, stubborn, dominant or simply dumb to learn these basic commands quickly.

Then there’s also the personality of your dog to consider, because dogs are no robots, they’re unique just like humans are.

And these are just a few examples of the factors at play. Hopefully, you’re lucky with your dog because these basic commands should be taught to your dog either way. They ensure a good relationship between the two of you and help everyone on the trail.

Getting Your Dog Used to Water

Many backpacking trails require you to cross a river. You have three options in this case:

  • Teach your dog how to swim.
  • Choose a backpacking trail where you don’t have to cross a river.
  • Depending on your dog’s weight, you can carry him across the river. You want to make sure, however, that you found the safest place to cross and that he won’t freak out and jump out of your arms!

For teaching him how to swim, it’s best to use your pool, but there are other options as well:

  • Go to a lake, pond, beach or deep river.
  • Buy a kiddie pool (an inflatable pool).
  • If your dog’s small, you can use your bathtub.
  • Rent a pool at a diving facility near you.
  • Some public pools offer an end-of-season swim just for dogs and their owners.

 

Once you have your water source, deep enough for your dog to swim, it’s time to start training. Needless to say, you want to take it easy. You can’t just throw your dog in the water and expect him to swim. He would totally freak out, which will only make this process harder.

How you can gradually make your dog love water:

#1 Start as early as possible: It’s much easier to train a younger dog, so start water training as early as possible. 2 months old is the perfect age.

#2 Make sure he knows the basic commands: Dogs don’t always notice danger when they’re swimming in a river or lake. And since pulling his leash is too dangerous, you want to ensure that he’ll return when you call for him.

#3 Put on his life vest: Water can be scary for your dog, especially if he has trouble staying on top. If you’re worried about his safety or want to make his training easier, consider equipping him with a life vest. Make sure he’s comfortable wearing it before you start his training.

#4 Make it fun: Put on your swimsuit because you’ll get in the water first. Your dog probably won’t get in the water with you right away, so you want to make it clear that water is a fun place to be around by making him excited with his favorite toy or treat.

Spin it around his head so he gets playful, then pull his toy closer to the water with the goal of seducing him to jump into the water with you. It may take your dog a few days before he feels comfortable being in the water, so don’t be frustrated if this doesn’t work right away.

#5 Start with low water: As mentioned before, you want to gradually make it more challenging for your dog. So it’s a good idea to start with water where he can still stand. If he feels somewhat comfortable, again, make him play with his toy and then pull it closer to deep water. Chances are he’ll swim towards it.

#6 If your dog gets scared: Once he gets in deep water and has to swim, he’ll probably swim back to low water or the side of your pool. Make sure you help him out, proving to him that he can still get out of the water. You don’t want to keep him in by force!

#7 Help him: Make him feel safe by staying close to him. Let him swim on his own for a few seconds and then lift him up. Keep making him playful or give him treats. Continue doing this process until your dog is ready to face the water alone. You can test it by throwing his favorite toy in the pool. If he’s ready, he’ll jump right after it.

The video below shows how you can get your dog used to water using this tactic.

What if your dog is traumatized?

What if your dog is not new to water, but has been traumatized by it as a result of previous events? It’s harder because he’s terrified of the water, but depending on the cause, it may still be a reasonable goal if you’re willing to put in the effort and time.

However, before you start water training for a traumatized dog, you want to get rid of aggressive and overly excited behavior first. The same can be said about off-leash recall and basic commands—you want to master those first. It creates a solid foundation, making it easier to tackle other, more problematic issues.

Here’s how it works:

#1 Push but not too hard: The trick to succeeding in water training a traumatized dog, is to push your dog hard enough but don’t force him too much. So get him on a leash, equip his life vest if you want to, jump in the pool, lake or whatever water source is available and pull your dog close to the water.

By now, he’ll probably be making weird noises because he’s scared and nervous, but that’s normal. You shouldn’t stop at this stage.

#2 Start small: Most pools have a baby step, which is perfect for this kind of training. You want to push your dog hard enough to go on that first step, which is only a couple of inches deep. Once he touches the water for a few seconds, you let him step out of the water again, proving that he can get out of the water at any time.

Redo this process over and over again, and you’ll notice that it gets easier every time.

#3 Gradually increase the depth: Once your dog is pretty comfortable standing in shallow water, you want to gradually push him farther. You do this by pulling him to slightly deeper water but letting him retreat to the depth where he was comfortable.

Again, this step is to prove that water won’t hurt him.

#4 Swim together: When he’s getting more and more comfortable, you can safely pull him to deep water where he’ll have to swim to stay above. He’ll panic and try to get out, but you want to guide him with his leash so he keeps swimming. With your other hand, you want to support him, making him feel safe.

After swimming for 30 seconds or so, just relax in the water, holding him in your arms and then both get out of the water.

Let him process what just happened and repeat the process over and over again. The more you do it, the easier it gets.

#5 Stop helping him: Once he feels comfortable swimming with you, you want to start getting out of the pool or at least don’t support him anymore. Just use his leash to make him swim. It shouldn’t cause you too much trouble at this stage. At first he may still have a panic swimming technique, but he’ll slowly begin to use his back legs and paddle in a more controlled manner.

At this point, your dog begins to feel comfortable in deep water. He may still hesitate to go swimming, but if you keep letting him go in and out of the water, this too will pass.

The video below is a great representation of how you can use this tactic on a water-traumatized dog:

Obviously, depending on what your dog went through as a pup, there’s a chance he’ll never recover from his trauma. This is often the case with dogs who were thrown in a pool and almost drowned. They just never get over it. Then it’s up to you to choose a backpacking trail where river crossing isn’t necessary.

Clip Your Dog’s Nails

If your dog will sleep in your tent, clipping his nails is a necessary precaution to prevent rips and punctures in your tent, sleeping bag and pad. it also makes it more comfortable for your dog if you’re hiking on rocky terrain.

Although you can do it yourself, some dogs resist too much and require a vet to step in. You can also take your dog to a pet store, since many trim your dog’s nails for a nominal fee.

If you’d like to try it yourself, check out the below video and follow the instructions.

It’s worth mentioning that you should be careful when clipping your dog’s nails on the trail. It’s best to do this before you head out, as you may cause bleeding if you cut too much. While it may not be a serious injury, keep in mind that your dog will have to hike for several days, and a bloodied paw may cause him discomfort to say the least.

Vaccinating Your Dog

If you’ll pitch your tent at a campsite, make sure you visit their website and determine what vaccinations are required. Don’t forget to bring the vaccine records in case you’re asked for proof!

Even if you’re going to camp in the wild where it’s not obligated, you want to vaccinate your dog for his own safety. Viruses can easily survive in the woods, and it’s foolish not to vaccinate your dog when going on a multi-day hike. Ask your vet what vaccines she recommends for your dog specifically.

Name Tag and Microchip

Attach a name tag to your dog’s collar for when he should get separated from you. It should include your current phone number so that people can contact you. If there’ll be no cell phone service on the trail, mention a phone number of a close friend or family member.

Microchipping your dog is optional, but it’s a good idea if you’re going to let your dog hike off-leash. Ensure that the microchip contains up-to-date contact information and you’re good to go.

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