Tips for Hiking and Camping with Dogs

Pawnee and Star my two German Shorthair Pointers love going with my wife and I camping and hiking. I enjoy hiking with my dogs every weekend in the Pawnee National Grassland. I thought this week I would post some pointers about camping and hiking with your dog.

Before You Go
Make sure your dog is current on his vaccinations and obtain a rabies tag or certificate.
Do not forget identification and be sure that it has the dog's name, your name, and contact information.
Some areas allow dogs on trails, others prohibit them. By the same token, some allow dogs into campgrounds and public areas, others do not. It is best to check on what the regulations are before you go.
Bring a first aid kit for the K9 just as you would for yourself. Additional items for dogs might include tweezers or pliers for removing thorns or porcupine quills, a sock in case a paw is injured, adhesive tape, and a disposable razor for shaving fur from a wound.
Be sure to get your dog in condition for hiking before you go on an extended trek. He/she needs to get into shape just like you and I. If your dog is going to carry a pack ease them into it, start off by having him or her wear a pack around the house, then on short walks, then longer walks.
If you are going somewhere water is not available don't forget to pack plenty of water for your dog. Our K9 friends can dehydrate quickly.

Hiking with dogs The Gear Doctor with his Dogs


Once You Get There
Consider use of a crate for travel and short term restraint. I have a couple of collapsible travel crates for Pawnee and Star. I also have tie out stakes and cables for when we are outside.
To avoid problems, keep them on their regular schedule. Happy dogs have a routine.
Bring a toy or two, just like you would for kids.
Give your dog time to adjust to their new surroundings. Give them time to rest.
Remove any leftover food after your dog eats. This food could attract unwanted insects or wildlife.
Consider your dog's sleeping arrangements don't forget their beds. Pawnee and Star have their place to sleep in our travel trailer just as if they would at home.
Be sure your dog has the proper protection from insects. Have the proper tick/flea collars, repellents or use Frontline applications.
Be aware of wildlife dangers in the area. When I lived in Northern Idaho (Bear Country) my dog wore a bell. The noise helped us from surprising a bear. We never had an issue the 6 years we lived there. Here when I hike with Pawnee and Star in the summer we avoid areas that could be good snake habitat.

Trail and Camp Etiquette
Maintain control of your dog at all times. Dogs are required to be on-leash at most maintained public trails and camp grounds. Most require a leash to be 6 feet or less in length.
Having your dog on a leash isn't enough. You should also be sure to keep him or her calm as other people and animals pass by. It is good advice to have trained your dog to not bark or chase wildlife. I have Pawnee and Star trained to not chase game even rabbits when we are roaming the grasslands. I also have control of them even though they may not be on their leashes, by voice or whistle.
Remember that other campers want to enjoy the peace and quiet of an out-of-the-way campground, so leave a persistent barker home with a friend or pet sitter.
Never leave your dog outside unattended.
Always pick up after your dog and properly dispose of it.

Those are the basic things to consider when camping or hiking with dog. Do you have any other dog hiking tips to share?

The Gear Doc
Andy Hawbaker
posted by
Andy Hawbaker
Andy is a hiker, backpacker, snowboarder and outdoor fanatic. When he isn't exploring the Rocky Mountains, burning marshmallows or scratching his dog behind the ear, he shares his experiences here on the Sierra Trading Post Blog.
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