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How do you prepare your dog for a backpacking trip?

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Re: How do you prepare your dog for a backpacking trip?

Postby Buck Forester » Fri May 08, 2009 6:26 pm

Image


I hiked for years with my two German Sheps before they passed. They were very well trained so I never had them on leashes, backcountry or frontcountry. We were always backpacking and active so they were in great shape and had tough paws. I never had to use booties. Towards the end when we weren't quite as active on big trips due to their age we went on a Lost Coast thru-hike and the black sand made one of their paws tender so I gauzed it up. If you're hiking many miles on sand or lots of bare granite you might want to bring booties just in case. After a few trips their paws toughen up and they aren't needed. Typical forest floor stuff is fine. If I was using a tent my dogs always slept with me in the tent (or should I say on me, ha!) but usually we slept outside (they're usually still on me!). I brought them their own pads early on but they still preferred sleeping with/near/on me and I didn't mind. When I set up a tent I kept it unzipped so they had access outside at all times. The key is having wilderness-wise trained dogs. The "wilderness-wise' comes both with experience and instinct (my dogs had amazing instincts whereas my girlfriend's dog was not too smart and we had to watch her closer and have a leash ready). Some dogs have it, some dogs don't. The 'well-trained' part should be done before you head into the wilds and take off their leash, meaning they should be under your verbal command at all times. If you can call your dog off a cat chase in your neighborhood, he's ready for the woods. If not, your dog will chase animals and it's not good for the animals and can be dangerous to your dog (depending on the animal), will annoy other people, and your dog may chase so long who knows where he is. So making sure the dog responds to your commands under all circumstances is key to a good, safe experience. Hiking with a leash all the time is impractical both for you and the dog. Once your dog is trained and wilderness-wise, you will have the best hiking partners you can ask for and years of amazing adventures together. I had complete confidence in my dogs even around wolves and grizzly bears and rattlesnakes and they lived a dream life because of their obedience and trust. I miss them greatly.
It's all about the WILDERNESS!!!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/buckforester/page9/



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Re: How do you prepare your dog for a backpacking trip?

Postby rlown » Fri May 08, 2009 8:13 pm

Buck,

Great information, Great picture, and very sad they're gone. Samantha, my lab is very voice trained. She waterfowl hunts with me every season in the Central valley. She'll only chase if i tell her to; otherwise, she looks at me as if to ask permission to do so. She'd do very well with a ramp-up to the task, and yes, she'd lay all over me as well. The paw info i've gotten from all is very helpful. I see what granite dust and rocks do to my boot soles; i can only imagine what that would do after just a mile to an unprepped dog.

Still, the Jack Russell, Bubba, is staying home. He's basically evil, and would chase anything, anytime, anywhere for any amount of time.

Regards,

Russ
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Re: How do you prepare your dog for a backpacking trip?

Postby KC JED » Wed May 20, 2009 1:20 pm

I took my one year old black (and mystery breed) lab up to the Bishop drainage last summer and he got destroyed by skeeters. I felt horrible, they attacked every bit of exposed skin, especially his underbelly. Any ideas on how to prevent mosi's from eating your dog alive???
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Re: How do you prepare your dog for a backpacking trip?

Postby rlown » Wed May 20, 2009 1:33 pm

KC JED wrote:Any ideas on how to prevent mosi's from eating your dog alive???


With Samantha, it's the same in the duck blinds. Absolutely covered until the first frost (if we have those anymore in CA..) Against the warning on the bottle, I spray her with the same stuff i spray myself with (covering her head.) I don't like to do it, but it works, and there are as many skeeters in the central valley during waterfowl as in the early season in the sierra. She still get's attacked around the eyes, so i carry Benedryl (sp?) to reduce the swelling. Can't spray their face.

I do dab some over her eyebrows, and along the snout, but where she cant lick it.

Russ

PS: just added. Some things like Advantix say they protect against skeeters, but the spray keeps them from lighting..
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Re: How do you prepare your dog for a backpacking trip?

Postby Markr » Fri Jun 26, 2009 4:18 pm

I don't do much to prepare my dogs. But they are high activity dogs to begin with, and they get two walks a day. I probably should do more. If you are not familiar with how your dog performs I would definitely recommend some booties. I found out the hard way that my otherwise very tough coydog had tender paws. When she hiked on hot sharp rocks after awhile she could not walk at all. I tried booties and that solved the problem.

It was really funny the first time I used them. As you could imagine she was really suspicious of what I was doing. She took a couple of tentative steps and apparently concluded that these things worked and went trotting off. I swear she was smiling. I have yet to find any booties that stay on though. In the worst case you could help secure them with the self adhesive stretch tape that you should be carrying for the dog anyway. A torn paw is a real disaster in the backcountry. Could you carry your dog out?

Bringing some enteretic aspirin is also a good idea. Dogs will run themselves so hard that the next day they move around like an old man. Check with your vet about the aspirin.

Dogs need a lot of water. With dry years we have been having you may have trouble finding it. So check the maps, and let your dog get its fill whenever it stops to drink.

Have fun. Dogs make great backcountry companions. They are more at home then we are. I wish I had a built in fur coat and could be happy living on kibble.
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