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Hiking & Camping With Your Dog

Drs. Foster & Smith Educational Staff
Winter Safety for Outdoor Dogs 
Why Pet Strollers are So Popular 
Frostbite Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention 
Bring your dog on an outdoor adventure

Avid outdoors people swear that a dog can appreciate a spectacular panoramic view as much as a human can. But when bringing your dog along on a camping or backpacking trip you need to make extra plans specifically for your pooch. Some things to think about:

  • Make sure your dog is vaccinated, and that you have proof of rabies vaccination. Get a health check and certificate from your veterinarian. Ask your veterinarian whether your dog should be vaccinated for Lyme disease, which is transmitted by ticks. Also, be sure to ask about effective flea and tick preventives.

  • Don't forget an identification tag with your contact information - use your cell number so you can be reached at all times. If this is not possible, then place the name of the park, campground, or "Contact park ranger" on it.

  • Consider having your dog microchipped. Identification tags can fall off collars and get lost.


  • Just as you would not expect yourself to complete a long hiking trek without conditioning, you must condition your dog, as well. Start a training schedule as you would your own - slowly with a gradual increase in distance.

  • Some parks allow dogs on trails, some don't. By the same token, some allow dogs into their campgrounds and public areas, some do not. Call ahead to your intended destination and find out what the rules are before you make plans to bring your dog.

  • Remember a first aid kit for yourself and your dog. Additional items for dogs might include tweezers or pliers for removing thorns or porcupine quills, a dog boot in case a paw is injured, adhesive tape, and a disposable razor for shaving fur from around a wound.
Specifics about hiking and backpacking
  • Pack plenty of water. Dogs cannot cool off by perspiring like we do.

  • Remember a retractable leash - and an extra one in case one is lost or broken. Leashing your dog on the trail will keep her safe, and retractable models store away easily without tangling.

    Handi-Drink Pet Water Bottles

  • Remember food for your pet, along with dishes.

  • Remember any medications that your dog needs.

  • If your pooch is over 20 pounds she can carry her own things in a backpack as well as some of yours. Pack only unbreakable items in your dog's pack.

    Make sure to let your dog practice carrying her loaded pack around the neighborhood before you take him on the trail. Start going on walks with just the pack and gradually add items to get your dog used to the extra weight.

  • Pack dog boots if you are going to be hiking in rough terrain, since foot pads could be injured. If you opt for no boots, make sure to check your dog's footpads every day.

  • Pack a Sling-Go Pet Sling to allow little dogs to rest. Big dogs can generally keep up with you.

  • If you will be near water and plan to swim, don't forget a life jacket for your pet if she needs it. Also bring an extra towel for your dog since she may get muddy or roll in something foul.
Specifics on camping
  • If you intend to drive into the campground and have short day hikes, you can bring more items with you.

  • You can also be less strict about conditioning your dog, although we still recommend a health check beforehand.

    Deluxe Soft Crate

  • 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.

  • Pack a lightweight camping crate like the Deluxe Soft Crate if you'd prefer not to share your tent.

  • Pack unbreakable toys like a ball, a Frisbee, and your pup's favorite soft toy.

  • Bring a thick foam pad or your dog's bed if nights will be chilly.

Trail Etiquette

Three Hard Fast Rules of the Trail

  1. Keep your dog on the trail at all times.

  2. Make sure your dog is obedience trained in the basics and understands voice commands.

  3. Never let your pet eliminate on the trail. Should an accident happen, be prepared to move the mess off of the trail. The most responsible way to deal with your dog's solid waste is the same way you would deal with yours - bury it.
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