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Who Takes Their Dog On The Trail?
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Curtis Presson
(Obdewla_X) - F
Who Takes Their Dog On The Trail? on 10/31/2005 18:15:40 MST Print View

I know that there are some Nat'l Parks that don't allow pets on the trail but there are a few that do.

I do a fair amount of solo hiking and when I have the chance I take my trusty companion Punk with me. She's loves to hit the trail and always seems to know when I'm getting ready for a trip. She has her own pack (Kelty Chuckwagon) in which she carries her food, my snacks and whatever trash we have.

Punk taking a water break

Man's best friend

She is a sweet black lab and she's fun to have along.

Edited by Obdewla_X on 10/31/2005 18:23:02 MST.

larry savage
(pyeyo) - F

Locale: pacific northwest
Re: Who Takes Their Dog On The Trail? on 10/31/2005 20:08:26 MST Print View

I've racked up more miles this year with dog than without,some off trail stuff too. Current dog unit is "huckleberry",both dog and name came from the pound. He appears to be shepard and some other goofy mix that kicked out longer hair, now that our cool weather has hit he's bouncing out the door to go. I do keep him leashed on a bungee style leash with a body harness instead of a collar.Keep on panting...

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Who Takes Their Dog On The Trail? on 11/01/2005 02:39:30 MST Print View

Used to take them along, when they were alive. Still would, "if"...

great companions.
Curt, your Lab looks great. I envy you.

For any "newbies" out there:
vritually w/o exception, you should keep your dog on a lease - either b/c of "lease rules" where you might be hiking, or b/c i've seen too many people loose their dogs. there are just so many things that can be a distraction to a dog when you are out in the woods.

generally, even though i had virtually total control over my dogs (i've trained many dogs for obedience, protection (only one dog - my Akita), and one for SAR (my Akita wasn't very good at it other than tracking family members; so, while it accomplished what i was after, you could say i basically failed here), both on-lead and off-lead, voice, hand signals, and whisper commands - w/me out of sight) and could call my dogs off of a squirrel, rabbit, or deer with one "out" or "come" command (in either english or german) - did it many, many times in my backyard, i would follow the rules and keep them on lease.

any good pro. dog trainer will tell you that you can never assume that you have 100% control over your dog. at best for a highly trained dog: 99+% = yes; 100% = no.

after you believe your dog is sufficiently trained for off-lead obedience (in some ways VERY diff. from on-lead obedience), including 1) distraction training using, at least, balls, squirrels, & children running by or playing ("tussling", for instance) as forms of distraction, 2) bolting off of a "sit-stay" through an open door (even after you walk away and leave the room), 3) begin feeding when their food is placed down in front of them without your 'ok' command ==>if you have to repeat a command (i.e., say it more than once - the initial command ONLY, NOT twice, i.e. one repetition) to keep them on a sit-stay or to come to you - YOU DO NOT HAVE SUFFICIENT CONTROL TO BE ASSURED THAT YOU WILL NOT LOOSE YOUR DOG IN THE FOREST (or wherever you hike).

while this level of training is NOT difficult to accomplish (even on your own, but it does take time & regular training sessions - it helps to understand canine/"pack" psychology and some training techniques & philosophy of training), i'm just guessing here, prob. <1% of dogs are this well trained. a well trained dog is a happy dog; the dog knows where it fits in in the "family pack".

my boss, last spring, lost his new dog. i see signs posted at trailheads all of the time = "Lost Dog...".

make sure your dog has "dog tags" or some form of identifying info.

i'm NOT trying to discourage anyone fr/taking their dog(s) on the trail with them. it's a wonderful experience for them, you, and your family to have "Man's Best Friend" along. i just don't want you to loose your dog.

50% of their body wt. is the generally recommended MAXIMUM that they should be expected to carry. some working dogs actually carry this much (e.g. some Maple Syrup farms in Northern New England use them this way when a wagon or cart can't get to some of the trees due to terrain issues). of course, why don't we apply the UL philosophy to them too, and lighten their load a bit!

remember, dogs need to get in shape for a Trek also - esp. since they will be carrying some wt (probably).

i would also suggest that you talk to your Vet for any advice he might have on the subject.

ok. 'nuff said.

Edited by pj on 11/01/2005 02:58:16 MST.

Bob Gabbart
(bobg) - F
Going ultralight with a dog - Is it possible? on 11/01/2005 06:47:41 MST Print View

I've basically decided that it is impossible for me to go ultralight and take my dog. When I do take my dog, I also take my 5 pounds tent. I don't feel comfortable sleeping at night with him off the leash unless he is in a fully enclosed shelter and fully enclosed ultra light shelters do not have durable enough floors to withstand his nails. I guess I could try putting a tyvek sheet inside of the shelter, but I cringe at the idea of him poking through my $300 BD FlightLight.

I've tried camping inside a floor-less tarptent with him on a tether but then in the middle of the night he'll wander outside and get caught up in the guylines. Also, it can get kind of windy under the tarptent and in the early spring and late fall he gets pretty cold, even with a blanket.

I've thought about using a large tarp in a flying diamond configuration with one corner anchored to a tree and the other three to the ground so there are no guylines for him to get tangled in and more protection from the wind, and then tethering him.

What do you do for shelter when you bring your dog? Also, what do you do for a blanket? I've simply got a piece of 3'x5' fleece for him. Anyone make a Polarguard quilt for their dog?

Edited by bobg on 11/01/2005 06:49:58 MST.

Curtis Presson
(Obdewla_X) - F
Who Takes Their Dog On The Trail? on 11/01/2005 19:35:14 MST Print View

When I take my dog I do carry a leash although she is not on it 100% of the time as she's pretty well disciplined. When we're hiking and other hikers approach she does get leashed and we stand trail side and let everyone (and other dogs if there are any) pass. After everyone passes she's off the leash and runs the trail ahead of me.

Most of the time when we're out I use the tarp and occassionally the hammock. Under the tarp she stays close by and she seems pretty comfy. When I take the hammock she stays close but if the wheather gets crappy it's not much fun for her as you can imagine.

She sleeps on a cut down Drymate boot mat that has polyester felt material on one side and waterproof backing on the underside. It rolls up small and sits on top of my Z Rest so it's easy to carry and it's not much of a weight penalty maybe 8 or 9 oz.

If it's cold when we're out I take my Akto solo tent and she sleeps inside the vestibule but not in the tent. She gets my Polartec pullover to keep her warm. This year I am going to modify a Ruff Wear K9 Overcoat and see how that works.

As for ultralight when she's along she carry's stuff too which saves weight on me.

Edited by Obdewla_X on 11/01/2005 19:37:39 MST.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Who Takes Their Dog On The Trail? on 11/01/2005 21:03:02 MST Print View


it's clear, on the trail, you're a gentleman and one who understands dogs. good for you.

because of individuals like you, i've only read BPL Forum "Chaff" Threads on the evils of "horse packers", nary a one on "those darn dogs"/"trail mutts".

Terry Bauer
(Flyman10) - F
dogs and trails on 12/02/2005 20:54:58 MST Print View

I take my dog with me everytime I go into the backcountry. In many cases, he is the only one that is devoted enough to go with me on long trips. We train together all year long, getting up early in the mornings and both putting our packs on to walk around town. He helps carry some snacks and he always carries all his own food.
As far as control - I really don't have any trouble with him. I work with him everyday on behavior issues, and that transpires to the woods. He always sits and stays when told. I have had horse caravans pass us and I never have to yell at him or hold him back. Fellow hikers are worse than him because they just come up and pet him without asking, my dog would never go up to them without my permission.
We have been hiking for 5 years together and have run into - moose, bear, coyotes, turkeys, rabbits, beaver, wolverines, snakes and other everyday creatures. Never once has he made the attempt to run after them or bark at them. I think that behavior is a reflection on the owners and how much time you spend with them. I think if the animal has respect and knows what is expected from them then they will respond accordingly. I trained a cat to sit on the toilet and use it for peeing. That cat has died but I also trained it to roll over and sit on command too. So I think animals will work with you if you are willing to work with them. It would be a shame to shut off the trail to pets. By the way - I have a chocolate lab purebread. His name is Welby and he loves everyone he meets!

Charles Thompson
(DemeraraDrinker) - F

Locale: Land of Toto
Reviving the thread on 08/18/2007 21:04:36 MDT Print View

I'm going to take my dog backpacking. He is a 9 year old Lab/Rhodesian Ridgeback mix. He is a hunter who likes to go after small game (rabbits, etc.). His name is Red Dog.

Because of this, when we go on 5-6 mile "patrols" around my house, he is on a 20 foot steel cable lead attached to a harness (with a collar, the lead falls to the low point of his neck and he trips over the lead).

I put a leather work glove on my right hand, and fasten one end of the lead around my wrist. I then vary the lead length by wrapping/unwrapping it around my gloved hand so it can be 2 feet or 20 feet. I can do this pretty fast.

This gives Red Dog some freedom to roam a little and do his thing in clear areas where he won't get tangled. The lead is technically for lighter dogs (50 lbs), but it holds him (80 lbs) and I'm trying to keep things light.

What I want to know is if this system will work in the backcountry. I will always keep him on the lead. At night, he'll be with me in the BD Mesa tent (he loves tents). I will probably keep him on a lead that is attached to me even in the tent cause he is capable of breaking through the tent wall in the middle of the night (he's gone through a plate glass door like a bullet).

What do you all think?

Sam .
(samurai) - F

Locale: NEPA
Re: Reviving the thread on 08/19/2007 01:15:39 MDT Print View


Edited by samurai on 08/19/2007 14:37:32 MDT.

larry savage
(pyeyo) - F

Locale: pacific northwest
I see this thread revived on 08/23/2007 10:58:07 MDT Print View

I see this thread revived and I'd like to mention I've abanoned the bungee leash, it just allowed him to much momentum when a squirrel pops up before he'd reach the outer limits of expansion and transfer the enrgy generated to me, a much more fixed object. This became really annoying and my left arm is now 8 inches longer then my right.

Sharon Bingham
(lithandriel) - F - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Any special items for first-aid, etc. needed for a dog? on 08/29/2007 11:39:50 MDT Print View

My boyfriend and I are interested in taking our two dogs with us on a one or two night trip. We've never done this before, though, and so I'm trying to find out all I can about what I should have along, and other tips that might be useful.

They are both very short-haired, sub 40 lbs. I've never had my girl outside over night, so I'm not sure how she'd react. But his dog apparently likes to get up and check out every little noise that's made. My dog, at least indoors, will sleep soundly through the night, and doesn't stir unless there's a REALLY out of place noise.

Sorry - this is beginning to ramble a bit because I'm not entirely sure what information I'm looking for. But here are some questions that have crossed my mind to start:

1) We would like them to be sleeping in their own shelter, rather than sharing with us. I've heard of dog tents, but these seem dubious to me. I've been thinking of a tarp and groundsheet made of Tyvek. Anyone have experience on good shelters for dogs?

2) Do dogs require any special considerations as far as bringing something extra along in my medical kit or survival pack?

3) What's a good way to keep them warm at night? I notice a few people mentioned blankets - will dogs really crawl into a "dog sleeping bag" or under a blanket if they are cold? I've never seen my dog do this - she generally just tries to shelter as many of her sides as possible but rarely crawls under a blanket, even if it's there. She does have a fleece jumpsuit I made for her that gives her full body coverage (including legs) that might work nicely, especially if I made her the wind-proof fleece version like I always planned...

4) Any other considerations that I'm forgetting?

larry savage
(pyeyo) - F

Locale: pacific northwest
overnighting dogs on 08/30/2007 11:05:33 MDT Print View

I've never had any luck overnighting dogs inside with me,there is just too much going on outside they think they need to be part of.
My suggestion is to try the backyard first then a close local car campground before trying the back country.
By the time you work up to trail camping you'll understand their needs.
The other thing that works for me is a large vestibule on my tent but it requies a little training to keep the dawg from knocking the guy lines and everything else akimbo.

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
dogs on 08/30/2007 12:20:44 MDT Print View

Our golden will sleep right at my feet or next to me when we tent it. 2 people and a big dog in a 2 person is cozy but we're never cold :) He sleeps on a foam pad and we have a crappy old down blanket if he gets cold he can get under. He doesn't try to get out of the tent during the night but he will bark a "warning shot" if he hears anything out there at night which I don't really mind.

Charles Bilz
(denalijoe) - F

Locale: California
Overnighting Dogs on 08/30/2007 12:50:58 MDT Print View

If your dogs have never been trail camping before; I agree with Larry's suggestions about first trying a few nights in your backyard and a few car camps before taking your dogs on a trail hike. Get them used to being outdoors at night and all th new sounds they will encounter.

I would also recommend taking them on trainging hikes with you, with them carrying all the gear and food they will be taking on your hike. This gets them used to carrying their packs and the weight. It also gets their pads toughened up. There is nothing worse than your dogs getting split pads on a hike. They slow down and are miserable. They need to be in shape for the hike just like you.

Basic obedience training is a must. If you are going to camping in rattle snake country I would recommend you take your dogs to a rattle snake aversion class. Dogs are very curious and will be poking theire noses into the bushes and finding all kinds of things to play with on the trail. A rattle snake is not something youj want to bring back to camp.

Keep control of your dogs if you expect to encounter horseback riders and other hikers walking on the trail. Let htem loose only when you are sure NOT to encounter others on your trail.

As for a first-aid kit, usually what you have for yourself will work for your dogs. Just be prepared for some minor scratches and such. Also apply a good tick and flea repellant a day or two before going on a trail or car camp. I would recommend Frontline Flea and Tick repellant. It lasts up to 3 months per application and is waterproff. It is what I use, and so far, my dog has not gotten any ticks or come home with fleas. I also use DEET on him where there are alot of mosquitos. As soon as I get home, and before he gets back into the house, I give him a good bath checking for any ticks and fleas he might have picked up.

Where your dogs sleeps is a personal choice. My dog sleeps with me in my tent. If you put them in their own tent/shelter you more than likely will have to have them on a secure lead so they will not be running off or roaming around your camp all night. Also be prepared for them to shred there own shelter trying to get out and be with you. Two dogs and two people in a tent can get a bit crowded but it is an option.

The fleece jump suit you made for your dog sounds ideal.

I have a 50 lb., 2 year old Vizsla that has been going with me on trail camps since he was 8 months old. Here's what he carries:

His own backpck, food, light weight wind and water proof blanket cover (4 ozs.) that covers his neck, back and underside, secured on him with velcro. If it is a really cold night I throw my fleece jacket over him. A toy to play with in camp, treats and trail snacks, and a long (20 ft. lead) if I have to secure him.

Hope this helps.

Kelley Mackison
(plove) - F

Locale: Northeast
Overnight With Dogs on 08/30/2007 14:55:24 MDT Print View

I just read your post on having your 2 yr old Vizsla on the trail with you. I have my 1 yr old Vizsla out with me every weekend. Things go great on the trail. I do,however, have two pressing questions.

1. Number of miles your dog/Vizsla can do? If I'm pushing for some long days, I have actually left her home. I debate this issue often. I just did an 8 day section on the Long Trail and she spent only 1.5 days with me because the terrain became too rugged and the miles too many. When I started doing 20+ miles, I just felt it was a little unfair to her. How many miles do you feel is the limit for your dog/Vizsla?

2. What are appropriate sleeping conditions for your dog? Currently, Trigger (my Vizsla), unbelievably crawls into my Western Mountaineering Ultralite sleeping bag and curls herself at the foot pocket. This however, is becoming an issue now that she is full size. What type of blanket and sleeping pad do you use for your dog? Being a Vizsla, she insists on being close to me, loves being under a blanket and is prone to get cold (hence the need for blanket and pad)

Also, here's what my dog carries in her pack (granite gear)
--her food (max 4 days)
--her treats
--her leash
--her collapsible bowl
--our trash
Trigger on the Long Trail

P-Love (puppylove)

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
mileage on 08/30/2007 16:30:18 MDT Print View

most dogs can handle all the mileage you throw at them assuming you train them to do it. THey have to work up to it just like humans. Then make sure they have enough food too. Of course every dog is different but most non-toy breeds you would take hiking are pretty tough!

Charles Bilz
(denalijoe) - F

Locale: California
Overnight With Dogs on 08/30/2007 20:09:01 MDT Print View


First off, you have a gorgeous Vizsla. That said, Remember Vizsla Rule #3. A Vizsla sleeps whereever they want too. That includes under the covers at home and in our sleeping bags on the trail.

Seriously, I started my dog out on short day hikes of 2-5 miles. Our first trail camp was a 3 mile hike when he was 8 months old. Our last outing together was 3 weeks ago in the Sierra's on a 6 day trip, averaging 7-10 miles a day. The most miles Nicholai and I have done together in a day is 15 miles (I am just not into 15+ miles a day anymore). That night after dinner and some rest I am sure he would have gone another 10 miles if I asked him too.

Believe me a Vizsla can out hike the two of us. If you want to do 20+ miles a day and your dog is in shape and her pack does not weigh alot I am sure she will out last you. :))

Our sleeping arrangments when camping are these: If I am roughing it so is he. He gets at the foot of my Non UL therm-a Rest pad, I unzip my Feathered Friends
Rock Wren sleeping bag and and cover him up. I really do not mind him in my bag if it is a cold night. Most of the time he gets to warm under the sleeping bag and crawls out and I find him sleeping next to me. I have a RC Pets fleece jacket for him to wear when it gets cold. It covers his back, neck, and underside.

I do not not bring a seperate pad along for him to sleep on. He is either making himself very comfortable at the foot of my sleeping pad or laying next to me on the floor of my tent. I got a piece of Tyvec house wrap and cut it to fit the inside of my Black Diamond HiLight to protect the floor from being punctured by his claws. If I am tarp tenting he is on the ground just like I am.

On our last trip being out for 6 days was a concern for me having him care a bit more weight than I wanted him too. I try to keep his pack weight to 5lbs. or less. But on this last trip it started out at 7 lbs and I could see he was uncomfortable with the weight for the first couple of days.

Here what my dog carries in his MountainSmith pack:
-His food usually 3-5 days. Six on our last trip.
-His treats
-His jacket
-My trail snacks
-Collasible bowl
-A toy
-My cigars
-Our trash
-Our leash

Edited by denalijoe on 08/30/2007 20:13:50 MDT.

Matt Dunne
(snowline) - F
re: reviving this thread on 09/07/2007 22:01:33 MDT Print View

My 35 lb Aussie goes hiking with me all the time. Currently I carry her food, but that's going to change next trip. I bought a cheap closed cell foam pad and cut a piece about 2 ft long for her to sleep on. It does double duty as a camp pad for me abd weighs almost nothing. As far as carrying first aid, the one thing you might consider is some protective booties; I think granite gear makes them.

Going lightweight with a dog is not too easy if it means taking a tent, but I prefer sleeping in a tent anyway. A pack towel is really handy; a wet, cold dog can really be trouble for a down bag. I made a lightweight leash with some nylon cord, a small aluminum carabiner, and a small loop of webbing for a handle. Regular leashes with stainless steel catches are surprisingly heavy. I use my pot lid as a dog dish, but next time I'm going to invest in a small fabric dish. They only weigh a few ounces.

Patricia Combee
(Trailfrog) - F

Locale: Northeast/Southeast your call
Always-ready hiking buddy on 09/09/2007 17:34:38 MDT Print View

Ivy loves to hike, hates to ride in the car to get to the trail head though. She is a border collie/Lab/? mix. Very athletic. She is always ready to go, never complains, always eats my leftovers and carries her own stuff. She must be on leash 100% of the time - strong prey drive. I use a "puppy" tie-out cable when using my tarp; no tie out when using tent. I wrap it around my sleeping bag at night taking care to fix it so it can only tighten so much (sure would hate to be squeezed to death because of a deer). She is pretty good, pulls a bit sometimes and gets upset if other dogs don't want to stop and sniff :)
She is probably my best hiking partner; it can be hard to hook up with my human partners.