Dolly Sods Adventure
I just had to get out of the house and away from the traffic, responsibilities, and people. It was time to hug some trees and burn some calories. It was time for a backpacking trip.
In the past my german shepherd, Heidi has been my companion on such adventures. Heidi is going on 11 years old now; her old bones just aren’t up for the trek anymore.
So, I figured it was time to take the pup for a backpacking spin. First thing was to test the little guy with the dog pack. I quickly threw it on him empty and strapped him in. Grom took a few spins in circles chasing after the dangling straps before getting distracted with a chew toy. That was easy.
The dog pack instruction manual said he could carry up to one-third his body weight; nearly 20 pounds! Since Grom is only a puppy, I put a meager four pounds into his packs. He was carrying his own water, food, and snacks for three days.
We are all packed up and ready to hit the trails. Like my snazzy bright orange cape?
Looks like Grom’s favorite things to do was climb around on the rocks and check out the awesome view.
The little guy doesn’t seem interested in group shots.
Don’t let me have you believe that he slept most of the time. This is what he was like most every time we stopped.
It was a fantastic trip.
Here are a few things I learned backpacking with a dog.
Tips for backpacking with a dog.
- Walk your dog several times with his packs on. Be sure to start out with them empty
- Pack extra food for your dog, he is going to burn many more calories than normal. I bring about 1/3 more food for each meal, plus two extra meals
- Bring dog snacks with you. I like duck or turkey jerky. Make sure its the good stuff. Your pup will need rewards for listening to you in the great outdoors. Snacks are easily kept in a treat pouch or chalk pouch with a draw string or closure that keeps it shut tight and hung from the shoulder strap on your pack.
- Don’t take your dog out camping if it will get below 40 degrees F at night unless he has thick fur and is used to being outside in the cold. Our domesticated pups can be as whimpy as humans when it comes to temperature. Consider bringing a camping bed for your dog.
- You will need lots of extra water for your dog. Be sure to offer water to your dog often, he cannot cool off as easy as you can. Teach your pup on walks to drink out of a water bottle or whatever you will be using on the trip before you go.
- Keep your dog on a leash, even in the middle of nowhere. I ran into several people with dogs after hiking for five miles straight without seeing a soul.
- Make sure your dog has the come command down no matter how much he wants to do something else. A deer bounding across the trail could very well end with your dog yanking the leash out of your hands and getting lost. I trained my dog to come to the emergency whistle attached to my pack. I always had one nearby.
- Make sure your dog has been trained to stay near you off lead. There will be a few areas on the trail that you may need to unhook your dogs leash for safety. I found that scrambling up rocks or crossing streams with a dog ended up with either my dog stumbling or myself on my butt in the middle of a stream.
- Keep watch for others on the trail. Get yourself and your dog off the trail to let others pass. Some people are afraid of dogs, are new to backpacking, or are off balance. They will appreciate the courtesy.