Thursday, August 13, 2009

Backpacking with Dogs Basics: Part I

We’re the kind of people that can’t imagine going someplace without our dog, so we really didn’t hesitate to take Misty with us backpacking. We are pretty lucky with a very mellow, active young dog. She basically is game for whatever as long as it involves the woods and us. So maybe you have a new dog or you just haven’t attempted backpacking with your dog yet. Here are some general tips, ideas, and links for backpacking with dogs.

Misty Post Ride

Dogs and Backpacking Weight

I had to do some searching and asking pals about how much weight a dog should carry while hiking. We’ve brought Misty plenty of places overnight and hiking, but we never had her carry her own things. The general consensus seems to be no more than 1/3 of their body weight. If your dog has any medical, weight, or age problems you should really talk to your vet about how much they should carry.

Misty ended up carrying about 6 or 7 pounds. She weighs 45 pounds, so this is definitely under 1/3 of her weight. I figured this would be a nice way to start her off carrying a backpack. Let me tell you- she turned into a completely different dog when she was wearing her backpack! More to come on that.

Misty thinking how much she likes having giardia

Dogs and Hiking Etiquette

I may write more about this later, because depending where you go and who you encounter trail etiquette with your dog may change. I would say as a general rule of thumb your dog should be leashed when you pass other hikers, especially if they have kids or other dogs. If your dog isn’t leashed, then you should have excellent verbal control over them. This isn’t easy to do if you like to walk your dog off leash through the woods. We let Misty run around and then somehow manage to get her back on leash before we meet up with other folks.

Dog Feet

Dogs and Backpacking: Preventing a Bug Problem

It sort of goes without saying for most dog owners that your dog should have some sort of flea/tick prevention. We use a topical drop once a month for Misty. This seems to help cut back on the tick problem.

Dogs and Avoiding Giardia while Backpacking

This may be my most favorite dog and backpacking topic. You’ll are about to think I am crazy, but I always pump or boil Misty’s water to prevent Giardia. I know, I know, you’re like they’re dogs- they’re meant to drink from puddles or maybe you’ve owned dogs for twenty years without this problem. Let me tell you- if you haven’t had an incident with Giardia yet and you spend a lot of time outdoors you eventually will.

The worst part is that you have to treat all of your animals if one animal gets it. We had three at the time our cat picked it up. It ended up being very costly. The first round of meds wasn’t enough and we had to treat again. So I always elect to prevent it from occurring again by having clean water for the dog.

Upcoming Backpacking with Dogs topics:

Dogs and Outdoor First Aid
Dogs and River Crossings
Dogs and Camping Etiquette

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