Backpacking with your dog

Backpacking with your dog can be a lot of fun if you do it

  • First, pick the right pack for your dog. Your dog should be able to move her legs and elbows freely and lie down in the pack.  The straps should fit like a collar – you should be able to fit a couple of fingers between the straps and your dog.
  • Second, get your dog used to the pack. The first couple of trips your dog’s pack should be empty or contain just a
         few ounces.
  • Also, if you do a lot of bouldering or hiking in close quarters, your dog will need to learn that it’s now “wider.” Different dogs learn in different ways – just like people. When I take Teddy bouldering, if she reaches a tight spot, I can say “hang on” and then I can point or gesture to the best path and she’ll take it. Chase, on the other hand, wants to figure it all out for himself. The first time I took him bouldering I was really worried. He got stuck at least six times in the first half hour! But once he got the hang of it, he turned into a bouldering pro and never needed any help with suggestions or with getting unstuck.
  • Watch the weight. Dogs should carry no more than 20% of their weight in a pack. Some breeds like huskies may be able to carry more weight relative to their size than other breeds like greyhounds. Their breeding and bone structures are obviously different!
  • Be careful what you put in the pack. Never put anything in your dog’s pack that you can’t do
         without! Another good suggestion, especially if your dog likes water, is never put anything that can’t get
    wet in your dog’s pack! I usually
    have them carry their own food well sealed in ziplock bags. I’ve also tied
    a small piece of matting to the top of their pack for them to lie on at
         night.  They could probably carry
    more weight so now that we’ll be backpacking with a baby, I’ll probably
    add a few other things to Chase’s pack.
  • If
    your dog yelps when carrying the pack or refuses to move, listen to him or
    her! Especially if they used to
    carry it happily. When Teddy
    started yelping whenever we put the pack on, it turned out she had a
    slipped disc! After Teddy slipped a
    disc, I never had her carry a pack again, even after the chiropractor
    fixed her back

Enjoy backpacking with your dog!

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