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Have dog, will hike
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Wanda Hodge
(Supercamper) - F
Have dog, will hike on 06/22/2005 13:53:58 MDT Print View

I'm thinking of hiking the Pinhoti Trail in AL with my Doberman piinscher. This is the first time I will take a dog as a hiking and camping partner, so I'd appreciate any info, advice, tips, recommended gear (lightweight food bowl, pack for the dog, extendable leashes, etc), your experiences, whatever you can share (dog in tent or out?, etc).

On a related note, I'm female hiking alone (other than the dog), so if you have any advice about that (safe? unsafe?) I'd appreciate it.


paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Have dog, will hike on 06/22/2005 14:43:58 MDT Print View

Having trained my dogs & many friends' dogs for on lead & off lead obedience, SAR, & Schutzhund, my only comments on this subject are you might want to consider NOT taking your dog off lead unless you can consistently call your dog off of chasing prey (e.g. squirrel & rabbits) with a SINGLE "your-dog's-name Come" command (or an "OUT" command). If you ever have to repeat a command, i.e., any previously learned command, more than once with the dog off lead during a training session, then sufficient control does NOT exist over the dog to insure that your dog will consistently obey. [Note: this statement assumes training is being done properly - i won't go into specifics here.] I say consistently obey, NOT always obey, b/c any decent professional dog trainer (not me, I'm but a decent amateur) will tell you that the most you can have control over your dog is 99+% of the time. The point being is that no one can be sure that 100% of the time their dog will obey. And don't they pick the most inopportune time to become too distracted & disobey!!

There are also other "tests" besides "calling a dog off of prey" that indicate if you have sufficient control over your dog to expect a fairly consistent level of obedience from your "off lead" dog.

If you don't have this level of control over your dog, you may spend many hours searching for your dog (as has my boss on one occasion) & even lose your dog entirely (i often see lost dogs posters at the State Parks i've hiked in - even though the parks have "lease laws" against allowing one's dog off lead.).

Dobie's are great dogs, very intelligent & trainable, & can be quite intimidating when aroused. They, even a smaller female Dobie, can do a great deal of damage to someone in the process of protecting you from a real/perceived attack. However, also be aware that there are ways to disable a protective dog.

Edited by pj on 06/22/2005 16:36:03 MDT.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
dogs and wilderness on 06/22/2005 15:14:01 MDT Print View

dunno if that is a good idea. Love dogs but the comments by the previous poster can sum it up when your dog is hard to control. nothing worse than losing your dog. I do feel a tad threatened sometimes when I come upon a dog racing up the trail from their owner. I usually stop and stay put until they come along for safety reasons. Sure dogs really enjoy being out in the wild, but it is a tough call, especially when they are chasing wildlife.

Wanda Hodge
(Supercamper) - F
dogs on 06/22/2005 21:04:58 MDT Print View

Since you missed my note asking about extendable (or retractable) leashes, I'll repeat that and add that she will be in a harness (the narrow heads on Dobies sometimes lead to collars slipping off), and the leash is so she can have at least a smidgen of running space.

Since that's cleared up, any other valuable input you can add?


paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: dogs on 06/23/2005 03:23:04 MDT Print View

Meant no offense on your relationship w/your dog. Hope none was taken. I was merely concerned that you might lose your dog and couldn't bear the thought of a fine Dobie (or fine mixed-breed for anyone else reading who might have one) getting lost - even for just a couple of hours. In my experience, there are only a very small percentage of dog owners who are both Alpha-dog in the family pack & who have also obedience trained their dogs either formally or informally. Please accept my apologies if I have offended you in any way.

[Besides my boss telling me about him losing his dog, I have seen people, on the trail, huffing & puffing running after theirs, asking me "Have you seen a dog...", or dogs running lost alone both on & off trail in state parks. IF your dog does get loose & you need to locate it, remember, they don't always stick to trails since what interests them is prob. not on the trail - other than another hiker. However, don't get lost yourself searching off-trail.]

I used to carry a 40 foot long canvas training lead, in addition to my 6 foot leather training lead attached to a sliding-chain-through-ring collar. People call this a "choke" collar. While on the trail the 6' lead was always used with the dog(s) at a "heel" ("foose") position next to my leg.

[NOTE: Any reader who thinks this sliding-chain-through-ring collar is cruel in all likelihood does NOT understand in the least canine psychology. If you want to train a dog, you need to understand wolf-pack psychology. The dog will NEVER be able to comprehend human psychology. HOWEVER, PLEASE DON'T INTERPRET THESE WORDS TO MEAN THAT YOU NEED TO BE ROUGH/CRUEL WHILE TRAINING YOUR DOG. Quite the opposite, use of proper training equipment/techniques makes the training more gentle/controlled. YOU SHOULD NEVER HIT YOUR DOG. LIFT, SHAKE & SCOLD YES. HIT NO. Hitting is NOT in a dog's wolf-pack mentality. It doesn't communicate properly.

Unless one has already trained their dog to be afraid of coming back to them (e.g., by hitting them, or even scolding them when they finally do return), "play posture" is the way to get dogs (even run-away neighbor's dogs) to come to you. Praise them when they finally return - this makes "coming" a pleasurable experience for them. One of my neighbors dogs (a Siberian Husky) will always come to me, NEVER to him - I've never even trained this dog - it's the demeanor, tone of voice, & play-posture, & then praise - his two children have seen me do this when i get their dog to "come" - they now do it & the dog now comes to them - but still not the father - for obvious reasons.

I used to love hiking with my dogs (all three have since died of natural causes/old age - prob. w/me soon to follow. they all died at home/vet, NOT on the trail ). The dogs typically get enough exercise during 12-14 hrs a day of hiking, but your extensible/extendable lead sounds like a good idea. I would only suggest, if you feel that the lead could eventurally break, that you bring a NEW back-up six foot leather/canvas training lead. You might be thinking that hking with a human is NOT a lot of exercise for a family dog (even a large dog). However, (check with your vet also), I believe it is. First, they are family dogs, not wolves & so, in most cases, are not in the same cardio-vascular physical shape as a wolf. Furthermore, dogs spend a lot of time resting/sleeping - preparing for the "big hunt/chase" which in their lives never comes as we provide their food in a bowl (as we should).

LNT poses other issues when hiking with your dog. At the risk of being a heretic, I take a slightly diff. view on some LNT matters. Having had over 20 undergrad/grad bio courses (including some dealing with Ecology & the Environmnet - i was also one of the first members of the Cousteau society & so consider myself a friend to the environment), in most (not all) cases, I'm not about to pack a canine's *BEEP*'s out. For me it depends upon how heavy is the human interaction with the environment. If it's a place where there is not much human interaction, I don't believe the ecology is that fragile that I can't bury my dog's excrement or leave it as it is - again, depending upon the local/environment. Hey...the foxes, coyotes, & wolves are not burying theirs - what is one more canine (now dozens/100's of canines over the course of a year is another story - this is what governs my decisions in this matter, as would local "laws/regs" hopefully established by knowledgeable ecologists familiar with the local ecosystem). If you need to pack out, I used to double-bag each "dump" in sandwich bags. simply invert one over your hand & grab. pull the bag around it, twist & tie off & place in a second bag. Then place the double bag in a larger third bag.

My dogs, never had worms (over 42yrs combined ages), or any other diagnosed diseases, other than as very young pups - which is common for pups to need de-worming. DON'T let your dog sniff/lick other animal droppings. Dogs like to do this, mine learned not to - at least if i were nearby.

b/f going on the trek, have your dog checked over by your Vet if it hasn't been checked recently. Remember, your dog can be treated with the same drugs you carry for pain/sore muscles/fever/lower GI issues, etc - dogs are (were??? i'm a bit dated) often used for human drug testing. Just calculate the dose based upon the dog's body weight. Make sure all of your dog's vaccinations are up to date. I don't know about Lyme's Disease in your neck-of-the-woods, but in my area, my dogs got the Lyme's vaccine. Check your dog for ticks each rest stop & b/f turning in, especially if the dog is sleeping with you. However, having said that, a tick is much more at home on your dog (higher body temp), than you & prob. won't leave your dog to climb onto you - except for my son when he was young - more ticks got on him during a hike than on the dogs - i used to say that he was "magnetick" (sic) - ouch!!!

Nowadays, I would treat/filter their water IF i was treating/filtering mine. Food - i used a very dense, high quality kibble - the same stuff I used at home. if you change to a 'doggie' trail food, get them used to it at home - ask your vet about doing this. They will need more food on the trail however, than at home, since they will expend more energy on the trek. Let the dogs carry their own food. I would get them used to carrying some wt b/f you head out on the trek. In other words, get them in shape carrying their food on daily walks around your home.

have a great time with man's best friend.

ok...this post is gettin' a tad on the long side. 'nuff said.

Sunny Waller
(dancer) - M

Locale: Southeast USA
Re: Have dog, will hike on 06/24/2005 12:34:09 MDT Print View

I would recomend taking you dog on a test run before you go on a long hike. My friend's Lab whines all night in the tent when she hears animal noises and it is impossible to get any sleep. After several years of this we started leaving her at home. Other people I know have the same problem-it depends on the dog. When I take my dog she wears a harness with a 6' leash that is attached to my pack. This works very well for us-espically when she tows me uphill :)

Wanda Hodge
(Supercamper) - F
dogs on 06/25/2005 15:47:23 MDT Print View

I have taken her on several 15 mi. day hikes so I know she's up to it stamina-wise, and a single overnight (as oppossed to a multi-day trip like I originally indicated) is next . We live in the woods and she's an outside dog, so she's used to that kind of environment. I have even slept out in the backyard several times when I just couldn't control my crqving for the outdoors (bet none of you have ever done that, right? Right? :) ) As far as dog hiking partners, she's got a good base we've been working on already. And I'm sure that some of you experienced in it could offer some tips I haven't thought of yet.

Also as I indicated in my original post, I'm a female hiking alone. Put another way: if the dog doesn't go, I don't go. I need the extra eyes and ears to feel safe when no other hiking partners are available. So it's either figure out a way to do it, or stay home. Guess which option appeals to me most.

Besides, if a bear gets after us, I only have to out-run the dog. :)


David Hicks
(Chaindoggydog) - F
you cant on 06/26/2005 09:18:46 MDT Print View

You wont be able to outrun the dog. At least not for long.

Janet L Besanceney
(kira2167) - F
Have dog, will hike - suggestions on 06/26/2005 09:33:12 MDT Print View

We hike with the dogs all the time without any incident, get plenty of sleep, and have the added security. I don't have them off leash unless they are working (and then they are vested) mainly out of respect to other hikers. They stay in the tent with us normally. We do pitch in the back yard and get the pups used to it early, so this is never a problem.
Other things to consider on multi-day hike: Medical supplies: Not sure what you already carry but - benadryl, vet wrap or equivalent(at least one), sterile gauze pads, 3 -4 is plenty, loperimide, baby asprin (no tylenol) or ibuprofen if she has had it before and didn't upset her. We have our dogs on electrolytes year round, and of course with it hot, it helps a lot. If you know any horsey people that will let you borrow some, that would be best (and cheaper) Gatorade is ok in a pinch, but we don't use it. We use graduated, light plastic screw top cetrifuge tubes for electrolyte powders. you can email me off list and I can send you one if you like.
There is some stuff called "hoof saver" with collagen you can pick up at the co-op or pet supply place. It doesn't work for horse hoofs, but works great on dog paws, nails, goat hoofs, etc. Keeps their pads in pretty good shape. Would want to start using it at least a week before trip.

If you have been hiking with her before, you can probably read her pretty well, know when she is getting too heated, make sure you check the insides of her ears, one of the first places you will start seeing heat stress. Unless you are lucky and she starts slowing herself down.

One last thing, don't know what you are feeding her, but we try to make sure the dog's food is at a higher concentration than normal on the trail or when they are workng for days. It makes it lighter to carry too, and less for them to hold in tummys. We concentrate their food about 3 times a week so they are used to it when they get in the field.

If you have any other questions, feel free to email me. kira2167 at

Have fun hiking!!!!