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What do I do with the dog?
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Evan McCarthy
(evanrussia) - MLife

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
What do I do with the dog? on 09/08/2010 15:05:55 MDT Print View


My prefered shelter combination is a GG SpinnTwinn tarp and a companion MLD Superlight bivy. When I take my dog, a 40 pound trail friend, I switch to my Black Diamond Hilight for no good reason -- except that I think the dog should be a in a tent for the night.

What do other tarp/bivy people do with their dog when sleeping? He doesn't run per se but I don't want to leave him unsecured for the entire night.


Morgan Rucks
(rucksmtr) - F
... on 09/08/2010 21:10:24 MDT Print View

Sleep in the tarp and train you dog not to run.
Use whatever crate training skills you have, to teach the dog that the tarp is his den.

Pitch your tarp in your back yard and practice.

Practice a few stays in the tarp while you walk about your camp/ backyard and praise and treat heavily when you get a great stay.

Practice making your dog wait for your permission before he she gets to leave the tarp.

Teach you dog to wake you up instead of running.

Practice recalls with a high value meat treat reward while you are laying in you sleeping bag so the pup gets used to that.

The first few nights maybe sleep with the leash on and lay atop your end so to prevent a break away.

I can break down how to teach any of those skills if you have questions. I don't know what your training relationship is with your dog but the ability for this to work well comes from having a strong sit down stay and recall.

My dog hasn't slept in a tent yet only tarps and cowboy camping.

Use the same techniques that you used to teach your dog to respect the front door. Waiting for you to give permission before charging out. If you can tell you dog to sit stay at you front door then walk out to the curb with the door open then walk back an not have you pup budge, then you can teach your dog to stay put in a tarp, or anywhere for that matter.

Also teach you pup to shake the water off outside the tarp not inside. I'm still working on that one.

Edited by rucksmtr on 09/08/2010 21:24:27 MDT.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
What do I do with the dog? on 09/08/2010 22:21:44 MDT Print View

That's why I use a lightweight single wall tent instead of a tarp. I did a quite a bit of research and couldn't find a combination of tarp, bug net and groundsheet that would provide a bug-free space for me and my dog that wasn't heavier than my Tarptent/Gossamer Gear Squall Classic.

I frankly would prefer the tarp, but it's more important to have a comfortable bug-free space for both of us. I will be trying a tarp in late September when the bugs are gone.

Ben P
(benp1) - F

Locale: London
My experience on 09/09/2010 03:19:42 MDT Print View

The first time I took my dog wild camping I stayed in a tarp and tied him to my waist with a long line of cord, it would only trigger if he truly wondered off.

I know he didn't sleep that well, he was constantly on guard and didn't settle particularly well. That was a mixture of being able to see everything (particularly at night when i couldn't see anything!) and staying in the woods, where more things happen and there is more noise

I've used an MLD Supermid and its been much easier. Whilst he can push his way out the bottom if he wants to, he has an enclosed area to sleep in and he likes sleeping in the corner. It gives me more comfort to know he's inside a shelter than just under a tarp so i'll keep using it. I've still tied him to my waist (always outside the sleeping bag and very loose) but it hasn't triggered

For reference he's a black lab that weighs around 65lb

Evan McCarthy
(evanrussia) - MLife

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Re: What do I do with the dog?" on 09/09/2010 07:08:48 MDT Print View

Thanks for the advice! I'll try taking him out and training with the tarp. He's well-behaved and not prone to running in general, so I think the worst that is likely to occur is a skittish, uncomfortable night for a city dog with all the smells, sights, and sounds of the night woods.

Morgan Rucks
(rucksmtr) - F
.... on 09/09/2010 11:02:13 MDT Print View

Try getting you dog all tired one afternoon, then go out to the backyard or a local park, pitch the tarp and just see if the dog will settle down and take a nap. take a short rest and then go home. repeat again at a different location.

Then try it at night. Set up the tarp, get inside, hang out until the pup settles down or goes to sleep, reward, pack up, go home. shouldn't take more than a half hour. just make sure you have a tired dog when you start.

Then your dog is learning that the tarp is a safe place to rest and let his guard down in a safe known environment.

Plus if he doesn't settle down, you are not all tired and crabby. just go home and work on it a few days later.

Also regarding campsite selection once you go out hiking. Be aware of game trails. I don't care how good a dog is, they are gonna be on alert if there is a deer walking by every 45 min.

At the end of your day if you come to a spot and your dog lays down and sacks out. That is probably a good spot to camp.

But if you are cooking dinner and your pup seems on alert and is roaming around smelling the air, you may want to move on a little and find a place that your dog seems more relaxed.

You may have to ditch the awesome spot above the cliff that is funneling smells from the huge watershed below. You dog may be more relaxed tucked away in some bushes well off the trail. I don't where your dog will sleep best but you will learn with time.

I clip a tiny led light to my dog Benny's collar. It makes him easy to find at night. And gives me a little peace of mind.

Remember dogs and humans have been sleeping outside LONG before silnylon, and long before tents or tarps.

Whats your dogs name?

JR Redding
(GrinchMT) - F
Same Experiences as.. on 09/13/2010 08:05:40 MDT Print View

I've had the same experience as Ben P. When outside in the vestibule or under a tarp, my Karelian never truly rests. On alert too much. Inside the tent, tent snuggled with me, she sleeps.

We too did similar training on where to stay and when it was ok to come out. It works. Takes time but it's a big payoff. In the process of our training, she's also learned to "guard" her pack. She knows her food and treats are there! :)

Good luck!

Steve Madsen
(smads) - F

Locale: Utah
Re: What do I do with the dog? on 09/15/2010 10:20:15 MDT Print View

My solution was to make a little tent for my dog:

MYOG Dog Tent - "Bear Tent"

When I first made this tent it had an enclosed mesh floor with a zippered front for entry and exit, but it didn't take him long to ruin the floor (he is around 100 lbs). When he made his first hole it quickly became his way into and out of the tent, so I ended up cutting out the bottom and extending the sides a little longer so they sort of drape on the ground.

He just puts his nose under the edge and lifts it up to enter end exit. I will also tie him to a rope (it can be seen on the ground in the picture, just not on him at this time) so he doesn't wander off too far at night, as dogs generally move around much more than we do at night. I try to keep the tent tieouts off of the ground, which allows him to move around under them and enter the tent from all sides, without getting his rope tangled in the tieouts. I have actually been amazed at how fast and how well he took to it. He knows it is his place to sleep and just loves to see me pull it out at home because it means he gets to come with.


Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Dog Tent on 09/15/2010 11:19:40 MDT Print View

I sewed a small 5.9oz silnylon A frame 'pup' tent for my dog. It works great, she loves it and of course she carries it.

DogT 1

PupT 2

PupT 3

Carrying the tent, her food etc.
PupT 4

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
What do I do with the dog? on 09/15/2010 12:53:34 MDT Print View

Luck Dog...:)

Steven Adeff
(TinCanFury) - F

Locale: Boston
trying to figure out the same on 09/15/2010 17:24:10 MDT Print View

I'm trying to figure out the same, what to do when I go solo. Right now I usually go with the g/f or another friend and we take my Nemo Losi 3P and so the boy sleeps in the tent with us. Actually, sometimes he does, sometimes he prefers to sleep au-natural.

Anyway, I was thinking about going hammock, especially for the winter, and so I need to figure out what he'll do to sleep and keep warm. He's ~60lb, perhaps I just need to get a 2person hammock?

Everett Vinzant
(wn7ant) - MLife

Locale: CDT
Low impact camping... on 09/26/2010 13:52:37 MDT Print View

I'm not trying to threadjack. I have two beautiful Sharpei/German Shepherds. I'd LOVE to bring them with me on the trail. What is the general consensus in bringing an animal into the habitat of other animals while considering leave no trace camping. Am I responsible to haul out their waste?

I'm not trying to cause a debate or flame war, and I'll respect every opinion given. I'm just at the step before "what to do with the dogs," more of a, "should I do with the dogs?" Assuming they are well trained, I can think of lots of reasons to bring them. In trying to minimize environmental impact, lot's of reasons not to bring them.

Edited by wn7ant on 09/26/2010 13:53:29 MDT.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
What do I do with the dog? on 09/26/2010 17:36:43 MDT Print View

Actually, a dog will have far less impact on the environment than a human, assuming the following extremely important items: (1) the dog is trained not to bark, (2) the dog is trained not to chase wild animals or is kept on leash, (3) his waste is buried--use the same treatment as for human waste. Certainly four soft paws on an 80-lb. dog are far easier on vegetation and soil than two trail runners with waffle soles on a 180-lb. human! It's important that the dog be current on his shots and receive anti-flea and tick medication, to avoid disease (either spreading it to wildlife or, more likely, catching it from them).

Then there is the dog's effect on the other humans on the trail. Many normally sweet-tempered dogs get upset in a strange place and start acting aggressively, especially when they run ahead of their owner (which should never be allowed to happen). Many of your fellow-hikers are nervous around dogs, usually as the result of bad childhood experience. Horses, of course, being creatures that survived for millenia by running first and asking questions later, can go into a tizzy around an excited dog, with possibly fatal results.

It's the dog owner's responsibility to keep the dog leashed or walking behind, to control the dog at all times, to scoop and bury the p**p.

My dog is a source of great joy to me on the trail and helps keep me warm in the tent at night. He loves being out there too--every time I get his pack out he starts jumping up and down! I also see more wildlife when I am with him, because he becomes alert long before I know anything is there. I do try to make absolutely sure he will not bother either man or beast when we are out there!

Everett Vinzant
(wn7ant) - MLife

Locale: CDT
Thank you for the "enlightenment" on 09/27/2010 09:21:29 MDT Print View


Thank you for "splainin" a few things to me. Now I feel better about the idea of brining one of my girls with me. I appreciate you taking your time to fill me in, and return this thread to its non-tangental state at this time.

Thomas Burns
(nerdboy52) - MLife

Locale: "Alas, poor Yogi.I knew him well."
Mary, thanks! on 09/27/2010 09:29:50 MDT Print View


I'd just like to thank you for the most reasonable -- and reasoned -- post I have ever seen by a dog owner. I used to think that there was something wrong with me that caused dogs to react so unpleasantly on the trail. A common response by the dog owner: "But Sparky never acts that way." Or in one case, anger: "You spooked my dog!"

I don't mind it when dogs are off leash on the trail so long as they respond to the owner's request to come close and be temporarily restrained so that I can walk by. I sometimes take my own personal pooch for a promenade, but I didn't do so until she responded well to the "come" command.

Edit: Oh, also, if you hear or see a dog ahead, you can save yourself some grief by announcing, "Hiker on the trail." Most dog owners are sensitive to the needs of other hikers. They will go out of their way to restrain their dogs if given just a bit of advanced notice.


Edited by nerdboy52 on 09/27/2010 09:33:24 MDT.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
amundsen on 09/27/2010 12:25:13 MDT Print View

just do do what amundsen did on his way to the south pole ;)

just make sure you train him not to go chasing after other hikers or wildlife ... last thing you want is a grizz running after it