There is nothing quite as exciting as a backpacking trip through the great outdoors. It is a chance to be one amongst nature, breathe fresh air, and refresh our minds. The only thing that can make the experience any better is the companionship of our beloved dogs. While your pet is sure to love the chance to stand by your side, you need to ensure that they are safe and well-behaved during the trip.
To help you out, we have some great tips for keeping your dog healthy and happy and how you can make the most out of your backpacking journey together.
Smart packing is key
Before you leave for your trip, you need to take an inventory of your backpack and ensure that you bring the necessities for both you and your pup. For us humans, that means packing good hiking boots or shoes, emergency and hygiene supplies, and a safe and sturdy tent and sleeping bag so you can rest comfortably under the stars. Plus, pack plenty of extra water and enough food for you and the pooch.
Bring along your dog’s collar and leash. Some trails require dogs to walk on leash. Also, make sure you bring your dog’s identification tag. Having that information can help locate the dog quickly if they get lost. To make hydration as easy as possible, pack a collapsible dish and bring plastic bags if they do their business while on the trail. Finally, pack a canine first aid kit so you can tend to them if necessary.
Keep pests at bay
When packing, you will want to bring the necessary supplies to keep your dog safe from pests and ensure that your pup is on an effective tick-prevention medication. In general, while walking, try to stick to the center of the trail and avoid walking through vegetation and taller grass whenever possible.
Make it a point to check your dog several times during the trip and inspect for ticks, fleas, and other bugs. Before you leave for your trip, do some research to understand how you can properly check your dog for ticks. Ticks latch onto your pet in places where they can easily hide, such as under their collar, behind their ears, and on the underside of their tail.
If you spot one, use a pair of tweezers to grab and pull the pest up and out in a quick, fluid motion. Once you have verified that you have removed the entire tick, clean the area with an antiseptic.
Remember trail etiquette
Unless you are going to a completely secluded environment, you will likely encounter other hikers who may have their dogs along for the walk. To stay safe, you want to follow specific trail etiquette rules with your pup. These include following the leash rules of the area, picking up your pet’s droppings, and ensuring that your dog has had their proper vaccinations.
You also need to be courteous when passing other backpackers. If you can sense that another hiker is approaching from behind, make it a point to step off to the side to let them pass. Also, if another hiker with a dog approaches you, move to the side so everyone has their space and you don’t run the risk of one dog attacking the other.
Choose a pet-friendly campground
To take the stress out of your backpacking trip and ensure that you are on the same page as the other backpacking enthusiasts, you can make it a point to hike and take your dog camping for the night at pet-friendly campgrounds. While these areas still have rules and guidelines, you will have more freedom, and the experience will be that enjoyable.
A quick check online will reveal many locations around the country, but some of the best include Hanna Park in Mayport, Florida, which has plenty of places to walk your dog, and it is along the water, which is breathtaking during the summer. The Valley of Fires Recreation Area is a great hidden gem in Carrizozo, New Mexico. There are tons of incredible dog-friendly sights, including a lava flow, which will excite the entire family.
Protect their paws
While your dog is probably thrilled to be with you during the hike, like everyone, their feet can begin to hurt, and the heat can also be tough on their paws. So, prepare before you leave for the hike. For instance, clip their nails to prevent them from getting stuck or tearing, which causes pain. You also can help your dog get ready by taking more frequent walks in the weeks leading up to the trip to toughen up their paws.
Once you are on the trail, you can ensure their safety by equipping your pooch with dog shoes or applying a paw balm to moisturize and avoid dryness and cracking. If your pup begins limping or continuously holds its paw up, it is a sign that they are in pain, and you should stop and break.
Enjoy backpacking with your dog
When you follow and take heed of these tips, you will enjoy your adventure even more, and you’ll know that you are keeping your dog’s best interests at heart. Plan accordingly, search out the best trails, and create memories that you’ll cherish forever.