If you’re anything like my husband and I, you love being outdoors. Hiking, camping... heck, maybe even a little backpacking.
When we brought a puppy home from the rescue shelter, we knew we wanted him to be a part of our outdoor adventures.
Our mix breed Basho (Baw-show) was only 5-months-old when we brought him home which is a bit too young to take on any serious backpacking trip. Knowing that we wanted him to hike with us, we started working with him right away to help him get his trail legs.
We started with short hikes in a nearby canyon. Later came his first camping trip, where he learned how to forge water crossings. He also learned to be carried comfortably across our shoulders, a literal lifesaver should he ever get injured in the deep woods.
Within a few months, Basho could hike longer and further than both of us. He has become a great addition to our hiking/camping/backpacking trips. We’re often getting stopped by people on trails who remark on how well-behaved Basho is.
If you’re ready to take your pooch on a trip with the family, you need to be prepared. Here are 7 things you need to know:
- Long leash training is a must to get your dog used to off-leash trail walking. I would suggest that you take many day hikes using a long training lead (15-30ft) before just letting him go. It is very important that your dog knows to stay on trail, if you're hiking along a ledge, the last thing you want him to do, is chase a bird off the side.
- A backpack is a must. Whether just going on a day hike, a weekend camping trip, or more, an Outward Hound backpack is a must have. If you have to carry your own water and snacks, why shouldn’t your dog? A well fitted backpack provides the space for your dog to carry it’s gear and will still provide the mobility for jumping over fallen trees, running though meadows, and wading through water crossings. One thing I love about the Outward Hound backpack is that it has a place to hold your dogs leash while it is still attached the collar.
- Keep those paws cool. If you are hiking with little tree cover and hot sun, that dirt can get toasty. Come 2pm in the afternoon the trail can easily begin to burn your dogs feet. If you notice your dog is trying to walk in the bushes or standing in little shade patches, chances are he’s trying to tell you that his feet are burned. The best solution for this is doggie hiking boots. If you know that there is a chance for burned paws, put the boots on at the start of the hike, then you won’t have to worry about burned paws at all. Dog boots are also handy in extreme cold weather.
- Hydration. Have you ever tried to share your water bottle with your dog only to end up with doggie backwash? The Lixit is what you need. The Lixit fits in the Outward Hound backpack. It’s a water bottle and bowl all in one. Easy to use and you can pour water as your dog is drinking, which eliminates wasted water. In the event of strenuous hiking/backpacking I would recommend picking up doggie electrolyte tablets from your local outdoor supplies retailer. They will help keep your pooch hydrated in hot weather.
- Pest control. Depending on where you live, you may have a problem with ticks. If you’re not sure, ask your veterinarian, they will know. Ticks can carry disease like Lyme. So if your area is prone to ticks, you need to make sure that you are using a tick preventative such as Frontline. Frontline is hands down that best tick preventive on the market. It’s no good with fleas though. The same goes for heartworm, if your area is known for cases of heartworm, be sure to get your pet on a heartworm preventative.
- Keep track of your pet. When out camping with the family, the wilderness can get very dark come night fall. We quickly learned that we can’t see Basho at all once the sun sets. I would recommend picking up a LED night light for your dog. These lights are great even for an evening walk around the block.
- Keep them comfortable. If you have a pampered pooch, make sure to bring a blanket for him to sleep on. I know from experience that when fighting a dog for space on the sleeping mat, the dog always wins.
Overall, enjoy the family time together. And don't forget to send us some pics of your next family adventure with your pets.