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(Ginger on Whiteface Peak, Adirondacks NY)
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Things to Bring

This is a list of things we suggest you bring on a hike.
Things in bold are important items, others are extras or less essential.
  • ID tags on your dog
  • Pick-up bags
  • Your dog first aid kit
  • Water and a bowl
  • A dog backpack (such as Wolfpacks or Ruffwear
  • Mosquito/bug repellant (for you and/or your dog)

What to Expect

Hiking or backpacking can be great fun an exercise for both people and dogs. However, you really need to keep in mind your dog's physical condition, breed and body type when going on hikes. Puppies should only be taken on very short hikes and should not wear a backpack. If your dog is not used to hiking, you will need to slowly build up the length and difficulty of your hikes. A dog that is used to leisurely walks in the city may have trouble with steep terrain or rocky surfaces. If you go on hikes that include rock climbing, remember that it may be easier for the dog to get up than to come down!
Backpacking with your dog is a great strength builder and something which many dogs enjoy. Your dog can also earn a certificate or title in backpacking through several organizations. Some breed clubs offer titles within their breed, such as the Alaskan Malamute Club or the Club of America.  Dog Scouts of America and AMHL offer titles for all breeds/mixes.  When beginning to pack with your dog, first get him used to an empty pack before adding any weight.  Some dogs may have trouble realizing that the pack makes them wider than normal, and get stuck or scrape the pack off, so don't allow them to walk without a leash wearing their pack. When your dog is acclimated with his/her pack, add weight slowly. Keep the weight to a minimum and be sure to balance both sides evenly. The pack should sit over the dog's shoulders, not further down on the back- you don't want to put weight on the spine. Check your dog every so often for any rubbing or chafing of the pack's straps. If the pack is chafing, it is probably fitted incorrectly.  
As fun as hiking can be, it can also be dangerous  if you and your dog are not properly prepared. If your dog does not have a good recall or "leave it" or may chase animals, please keep him/her on leash! If you would like to train your dog for backpacking/hiking or learn more about hiking safety for dogs and owners or other issues, there are several books on hiking with dogs.


Where to Go

The rules about dogs in state and national parks vary. Some do not allow dogs at all, some allow them but not on any trails, or only on certain trails. Please check with the park before bringing your dog. For some backpacking titles/certificates, the packing can be done anywhere- even on city sidewalks!

For lists of parks, try the National Park Service Website and the Illinois State Parks site. To find forest preserves in your area, search for the county's park district or forest preserve website, such as the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. You can also find listings of dog-friendly forest preserves in the book Doggone Chicago , by Steve Dale.


Related Books Links

"The Simple Guide to Getting Active With Your Dog" by Margaret H. Bonham

"Hiking With Your Dog: Happy Trails: What You Really Need to Know When Taking Your Dog Hiking or Backpacking" by Gary Hoffman

"Backpacking With Your Dog" by Charlene G. Labelle

"Hiking with Dogs: Becoming a Wilderness-Wise Dog Owner"
by Linda Mullally

"The Canine Hiker's Bible" Doug Gelbert (Lists places to hike with your dog)

"Field Guide: Dog First Aid Emergency Care for the Hunting, Working, and Outdoor Dog"
by Randy Acker




Other Sites
Here are a few other websites related to hiking/backpacking with dogs.





 

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