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Packing with Dogs
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Matthew Helmuth
(matthewhelmuth) - F - M

Locale: Cascade Siskiyou National Monument
Packing with Dogs on 02/07/2014 16:32:41 MST Print View

Hi All,

My girlfriend and I just got our first dog. She's a 15lb Beagle puppy. We're planning a trip to the AT in late Feb and trying to figure out what to do with the pup.
Where do you have your dogs sleep? Any input on dogs mixing with sleeping bags or tent floors? -- I'm a little worried about the claws.


Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Re: Packing with Dogs on 02/07/2014 20:15:01 MST Print View

First of all...congrats!!!

My pup sleeps in the tent with me. He's 80 pounds and sheds a ton, so I have a ton of dirt and dog hair in the tent with me most mornings. But it's so worth it! I have to keep him enclosed with me (no tarps) because otherwise he'll do a bit too much snooping while I'm asleep. He has never torn any tent floors, although the net floor of my old hexamid was a mess after just a few nights with him. Cuben floors, silnylon floors...all totally intact. No problems ever.

More importantly for you though...I would strongly advise against hiking with a puppy. They are uncoordinated as puppies and are at greater risk of injury on uneven surfaces; their bones are still growing and too much hiking can wreak havoc on their joints.

You can do a lot of research online - there are some nice dog hiking blogs out there - and pretty much without exception they will tell you not to take them on any longish hikes until they are about a year old.

David Olsen
( - M

Locale: Channeled Scablands
Re: Packing with Dogs on 02/07/2014 23:35:40 MST Print View

Read all you can on hiking with dogs. Lots of safety considerations.

Hounds run off following their noses. Train consistently from the start on recall, and never let them get away from you.

Beagles will be playful their whole lives, and are great fun.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Packing with Dogs on 02/07/2014 23:41:36 MST Print View

Not what you asked about, but

too many stories of dogs falling off cliffs and have to be rescued or didn't survive. Leash is good, but I have dog relatives that enjoy off leash so I can see why people do that - depends on trail and how good the dog is trained.

a couple times I've encountered dog that walked on sharp rocks, cut feet, need to wear booties in such a case, but it depends on where you walk

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Packing with Dogs on 02/08/2014 00:06:59 MST Print View

I've had three pack/trail dogs. Snow and granite can cause bleeding on their pads if hiked over for too long. I've had them out for a week at a time was all, no booties. My female Dobie was out for a 50 mile trip at 10 wks, she did good, but looked for shade every chance she could. I carried her briefly now and then. They packed their own food except for the Dobie at that age. Since, I've heard not to have them carry weight until a year. They may chew on sleeping bags, I had two damaged by my male Dobie when he was younger. They loved getting out. No damage to tent floors or snags on sleeping bags, I tried to get them to sleep off to the side. Snow camping is even tougher, I had to pack a few beer flats as I did not have a spare pad for the dog. My dogs were outside dogs, so bping was not much change for them.

Mark Ries
(mtmnmark) - M

Locale: IOWAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
Re: Packing with Dogs on 02/08/2014 00:42:08 MST Print View

At fifteen pounds that's a pretty hefty beagle pup how old is it? And how long have you had it? It sounds like its out of its socialization period at that weight. If its not there are a lot of training opportunities at the right age but Jens right about not putting a lot of miles on to young of a dog. A beagle and its nose can be quite a handful not that its a bad dog its just being what it was bred to be. In my mind if its a good beagle its bred to hunt,that can be a real pain to deal with in the wild get that dog by a rock pile with pikas in it and good luck getting and keeping its attention. Also beagles bark and howl and bawl once again that's a beagle he's just being who he is. If its an AKC confirmation dog a lot of those instincts may be bred out of it but don't count on it. I hate to be a downer but I've been around quite a few dogs. Now to totally change the lecture you picked him I doubt that he picked you so work with him and train him learn about its breed and what to expect, this is how he's hard wired don't give up on him cause you picked him. Jens dog charlie is real good trail dog but only so much of that is from training most of it is who he is and just any dog can't be that way. Think about what you want for a end product and learn how to shape the dogs behaviors to obtain this but realize that stamping out prey drive in this breed is not gonna happen be realistic of you vision for him or her. Don't expect a puppy who chews not to destroy your gear. Sorry for the rant. Trim and dremel its nails and dew claws 1 week before the trail and your tent floor should be fine

Pete Staehling
(staehpj1) - F
Dogs on 02/08/2014 05:58:36 MST Print View

My pooch has hiked, backpacked, and trail run thousands of miles with me and has been a great trail buddy. Depending on where we are she might be off or on leash. She behaves well either way. I think the key is to spend a lot of time with your dog on the trails and establish good behavior and habits. I find that it is best if it is a negotiation between dog and human with the human having veto power. That way you come up with rules that make both dog and human happy. I prefer it to be a partnership rather than the human being a complete dictator.

I have had no problems with damage to sleeping pads, sleeping bags, or tents. At night she gets in the tent, I point to where I want her to sleep, and she settles in. Thus far when she is along I gave used a tent rather than my tarp/bivy combo. It has always been a pleasant experience hiking with her.

When it is hot I try to take her places with lots of shade and frequent water. Dogs have more trouble with the heat than humans but can acclimate to some extent. I find that each year I acclimate to the heat a bit faster than her and have to be careful to not push her too hard until she gets used to the hotter weather. It is more of a problem running than hiking, but always be careful not to let her overheat and keep her hydrated,

Edited by staehpj1 on 02/08/2014 06:03:41 MST.

Brian Crain
(brcrain) - F

Locale: So Cal
Re: Dogs on 02/08/2014 09:13:56 MST Print View

"She behaves well either way. I think the key is to spend a lot of time with your dog on the trails and establish good behavior and habits."

+1 - regardless of puppy or not, I wouldn't subject a dog to the backcountry until it is disciplined enough to behave appropriately and not run off - including barking, which is about as cool as 5,000 watts of loud music.

+1 on enclosed tent.

I had a lab that ate everything, to include sprinkler heads, 6" diameter queen palms, you name it - but when it came to camping he never chewed any gear.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Packing with Dogs on 02/08/2014 09:57:04 MST Print View

After a good day, they will be less inclined to take off, but may find the energy to chase a easy target. :) I kept my dogs in my tent as I was more worried about them finding a porcupine or skunk then them taking off. If bugs were bad, I'd let them in the tent early to save them the misery. If you got close to their pack in the morning, they were up and ready to hit the trail.

Billy Hoag

Locale: Everywhere
I think the beagle will be a challenge. on 02/08/2014 09:58:22 MST Print View

I apologize: after typing this I realized you were asking for tips, not my opinion on whether you should bring your dog.

I have not had much problem with dog claws on silnylon. I had 1 inflatble pad that may have been clawed. We sleep under a tarp and he has free range but stays with me. I often catch him watching the sunrise as I am waking up. He eats from the same gallon ziplock that holds his food and drinks from a ziplock, a stream or my pot.

Have fun!

I agree will all the comments posted. I am a dogpacker myself. I also grew up with hounds, mostly beagles. My family has no less than 12 hounds since I can remember.

When I got my first mixed breed non-hound I was amazed. He was so much easier to train!

My experience has shown that if that beagle gets loose and onto a hot track, it could be gone a long time. I have had to retrieve beagles several towns away.

They also cannot keep out of food & trash.
If your pup raids someone's food bag you may quickly fall out of favor.

I wanted to take my well seasoned, long medium haired, well mannered, leashless voice control, tough pawed, seasoned dogpacking mixed breed friend on a PCT hike.
He has hiked thousands of miles with me. After really thinking about it, reading forums and talking to folks;

No way.

I will have a friend bring him out for a section North of Tahoe. I'm gonna shell out 3k for someone to watch him.

Edited by WanderRust on 02/08/2014 10:04:25 MST.

Mark S
(gixer) - F
Jack Russell on 02/08/2014 14:10:56 MST Print View

Take my Jack Russell everywhere with me, hiking and mountain biking.

She starts getting tired at around 20km, but as she's only 5kg i do tend to pick her up for little stretches especially on the MTB.
I'm in no doubt she can walk/run/ride further than me, but if carrying her for a few km near the end of a walk saves her joints in later years i see that as a fair trade.

Never bother with a lead off-road but then she's an extremely well behaved dog and she's extremely well trained.

Only real difficulty we've had is that being a short haired dog that's kept in the house she really tends to feel the cold.

I've got a old sleeping i've cut down for milder nights, usually put her on top of my rucksack so she's off the ground.
On really cold nights then i'll have her in the sleeping bag with me, doesn't move a muscle all night and she's a pretty decent hot water bottle.

Few tips i'd give:
Keep an eye on your dog, if you know it well it's not difficult to spot when they're starting to get tired.

Spend walks training, the better trained the dog the easier it is on you and them.
Luckily our dog loves training and comes to heel, stops, sits, ignores strangers and other dogs, but still i take treats on every walk and keep up the training.

Try and caution other hikers/bikers from stroking and making a fuss, this is basically training the dog to go towards strangers, if the strangers want it or not.

If you keep the dog in the tent then spend around 15 mins each night really giving it a good check over for ticks.
Tried every tick remover on the market, by far the best i've found is the lasso type.

On smaller dogs it's really important to keep them hydrated, a little often is best.
I've trained our dog to drink from my water bladder, she stands a few cm away from the valve and i effectively squirt the water into her mouth, it's a LOT easier than messing about with water bottles.

Try and get the dog off the ground in the tent, on your rucksack or on a corner of your sleeping mat will make a massive difference.

Careful while cooking, it's not fun having your nearly ready meal knocked over.

Try and keep it fun and try a few things to keep the dogs attention on you while walking, be that treats every now and then with some praise, or kicking a stone for it to fetch once every hour or so (more than that they tend to start to get a OCD every time you kick a stone)

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Aussie on 02/08/2014 14:33:18 MST Print View

My Australian Shepherd does really well. I do keep an eye on his feet and make an effort to keep him well hydrated. I worry much more about hot weather than cold and I leave his pack off if it is too hot. He goes out in the yard and lays out there in cold rain just to see what's going on! He is very well behaved on the trail with people and other dogs and if there is any traffic, he's on a lead. I have one on his pack that I can quickly grab when others are on the trail. He's definitely on a lead in camp.

No problems with the tent. I was worried about him crashing into the side and ripping the bug screen, etc, but he has been great. Great foot warmer too!

My Springer Spaniel was a good hiker too. He was much more prone to following his nose and I had to keep an eye on him that way, but he would respond to my voice commands. He found a rabbit once, but the bunny ran him into my parked truck in a campground. I kept him on the lead after that.

+1 on the wild critter worries. Raccoons, skunks, porcupines and coyotes would all be troublesome. I would like to think that the wiff of dog would keep some varmints away from my camp, but no guaranty there.

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Jack Russell on 02/08/2014 14:47:14 MST Print View

So that you'll know the value of a Jack Russell for controlling any local wildlife that might wander into your campsite--here's Winston, protecting the perimeter on Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe.

Winston and hippo

Matthew Helmuth
(matthewhelmuth) - F - M

Locale: Cascade Siskiyou National Monument
Re: Packing with Dogs on 02/08/2014 15:13:14 MST Print View

Thanks for the plethora of responses!

A bit more information regarding our puppy.

She's just about to reach 6 months old. We've had her for 2 months or so, now. We walk her off-leash every day in the local park and she never leaves us. She likes to jump on strangers, though, and will chase joggers for ~200 yards or so.

After reading your responses my biggest concern is that she would be a nuisance to other hikers on-trail. Could we compensate for her nuisance by sending cards to those she irritates with her picture on them?


Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Packing with Dogs on 02/08/2014 16:23:59 MST Print View

Beagles! Once had two of them. I well remember their going off on scents for what seemed like forever! On hiking/backpacking trips, they had to be leashed all the time. I well remember one time out with my daughter; we were crossing a rather narrow log over a stream with the dog between us, and the dog spotted a deer….

At 6 months, right now is the time you want to enroll yourselves and your pup in a really good obedience school. You'll probably be in classes a year or more. My dog was in for two years and took over six months to pass the second level. Even having been bred to be an assistance dog, it was a long time before he realized that taking off the leash didn't mean it was time to play with the other dogs. The classes are well worth whatever amount of money they cost! At least go until your dog has earned the AKC Canine Good Citizen credential.

Crate training, if you haven't already, is excellent preparation for teaching the dog to lie quietly in the tent. Keep claws clipped frequently. Keep close watch until she's well past the chewing stage.

I'm surprised you are allowed to walk the dog unleashed in local parks. Not many communities will allow that. Many hiking trails require the dog to be leashed, especially in more populated areas. That also keeps the dog from going off cliffs--around here (Columbia River Gorge) there are several fatalities each year because of unleashed dogs going over the edge. (If that sounds familiar it's beause Retired Jerry is from the same area.)

She's a real cutie, but cuteness (and they're not so cute when they grow up) doesn't relieve you from the responsibility of keeping your dog under control at all times. Nor are you doing any favors by letting her run unleashed around those who have their dogs properly leashed--it makes those leashed dogs really hard for their owners to control and can lead to injuries, accidents and dog fights. It has happened to me and my (late) dog.

At 6 months, she's far too young for any serious hiking. It can do serious and permanent damage to her immature joints, requiring multiple surgeries and many thousands of $$$$$ in vet bills. Please find someone to keep her while you're on the AT! Please also consider that the next 6-12 months is the most important time in her life--and yours--for training. Maybe postpone the AT another year, until she is mature and properly trained?

Edited by hikinggranny on 02/08/2014 16:54:26 MST.

Diane Pinkers
(dipink) - MLife

Locale: Western Washington
^ +1 on 02/08/2014 19:38:17 MST Print View

Mary has hit it on the head on all aspects. Beagles are lovely dogs, but their brains can turn off when they are on a scent. If you love your dog, you will love it enough to give it the training and discipline to STAY SAFE. This includes being happy on a leash if need be, being secure if tied or shut in a tent, and well socialized to not go crazy when approached by other people or dogs. Behavior problems are one of the leading reasons why dogs get surrendered to humane societies and breed rescue organizations. You are doing her no favors letting her be off leash if you are taking her places where she will be expected to be on lead, and she will be a nuisance to hike with, not a joy, if she doesn't accept where and how she has to be there. Been there with friends who had dogs that had no manners, major irritation on the trail. Won't be hiking with them again, except in National Parks (where they have to leave their unruly beast behind!).

6 months old is too young to have the skills needed to be okay in the back country. No cute picture will be enough if your dog gets hurt. Not everyone reacts positively to friendly dogs rushing up to them.

As someone who sees A LOT of seriously overweight beagles, I applaud the idea of getting her out to stay fit. Check out, and look at his through-hiking book, he has a chapter on long-distance hiking with your dog.

And, please, if you haven't already, consider a microchip. It is the most fool-proof way to identify your dog if she gets lost. It takes 2 minutes to put one in, can be done at an office visit (no sedation required), and costs about $35-55 depending on where you are. Home Again is a good company, with a nation-wide data base and will blast e-mail local veterinary offices in a 20 mile radius near where a dog is lost once you report her missing.

Art Tyszka
(arttyszka) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota
Re: Re: Packing with Dogs on 02/09/2014 08:22:48 MST Print View

Matthew, I think the postcard might just work. I'll echo everyone's comments about the importance of training, but that goes for everyday life, not just being outdoors. I take our (3rd) German Shepherd Dog with me on most of my hikes and he's off leash 99% of the time, but knows full well how far he can get in front of me (100 ft at most) before needing to circle back, I'd guess for every mile I hike he does 1.5. When passing other hikers I'll put him on a heel to be respectful. I know how much he loves being out there with me by how much he whines when he sees his pack come out of the closet.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Perimeter protection on 02/09/2014 09:34:01 MST Print View

Here kitty, kitty. :)

Mark S
(gixer) - F
Re: Re: Packing with Dogs on 02/09/2014 09:57:30 MST Print View

Trick is finding something that motivates her, that might be a ball and play, affection and petting or it might be food or a treat.

Once you've found what she responds to use hat to keep her attention.

It's imperative that you bring the distraction into play early though, to do this you'll need to observe her and see the point where she turns off from any commands from you, once they've got to that stage it's pointless.

Best bet is to keep and eye on her and as soon as she shows the slightest interest in the jogger, other dog etc draw her attention to your with her "motivation"

If she jumps up on someone then it's not her fault, it's your fault that you her get to that stage without intervention, sounds harsh but if you think of it that way it's easier to train.

Once she's coming back when called i'd also strongly recommend spending time training her to return in varying voice tones.

Once witnessed a dog that slipped off it's collar get run over, the owner was obviously anxious and stressed and shouted at the dog to come to her, the dog heard this stress thought it was in trouble and took off in the other direction (the road).

So i've spent a lot of time since with my dogs training them to come to me with varying tones, from shouting to fake anger the works.
My JRT comes to me with a wagging tail no matter how i call her now.
This proved useful last easter when she was startled and slipped the lead during a fireworks show, i had to shout to get my voice over the fireworks and although she was afraid of the noise she heard me shout and came tail wagging.

David Olsen
( - M

Locale: Channeled Scablands
squirrel on 02/09/2014 19:34:57 MST Print View

I find that the best motivation for a hound is to keep a squirrel or rabbit in my pocket. Even cheese filled hotdogs do not hold the same sway as a quick moving small mammal.sandy

Edited by on 02/09/2014 19:36:43 MST.