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Backpacking with small dogs...

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Backpacking with small dogs...

Postby Snowtrout » Wed Apr 24, 2013 3:39 pm

Last year my wife and I took our mini doxie, named Sierra, on a 10 mile roundtrip overnighter near the Dinkey wilderness. It was funny to see people' expressions and hear their comments about a wiener dog in the backcountry. We did learn that when she did get tired (she did +8 of the 10 miles), she fit perfect laying between our neck and pack and she needed to walk in front of us when hiking because the dust we kicked up went right into her face since she is low to the ground.

Trips are being planned for this year and we want to take the doxie and her son Reno, a doxie poodle mix. We bought a xxsmall pack for Reno and he seems to like it and will have no problems carrying a few items. But since a few of our trips planned are to be multiple days and we are new to hiking with the dogs, I need some comments or suggestions on what I need to take for them (besides food, bowl, jacket) or what I should be prepared for when doing longer treks into the backcountry with a small dog.

Any comments would be greatly appreciated.



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Re: Backpacking with small dogs...

Postby maverick » Wed Apr 24, 2013 3:57 pm

HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Backpacking with small dogs...

Postby schmalz » Wed Apr 24, 2013 4:01 pm

Hey Snowtrout,

My website is sort of dedicated to this topic, so I'll try to chime in with what I know. I should admit that I'm actually fairly new to this which is why I haven't done any posts on my site with specific recommendations. With that in mind, here are a few things to consider:

- Sleeping Pad - I cut out a piece of a blue closed cell foam pad for callie.

- Booties - Your main concern should be your dog's paws. They can get torn up on multiple day trips. If you don't think they'll be able to survive that length, look into booties and train them to get used to them prior to the trip.

- Make sure you dog drinks lots of water - Dogs overheat more easily, and they really need to drink a lot of water. It's easy to forget, so make sure you give them plenty of opportunities.

- Expect your dog to want to pee in the middle of the night. Be happy if it turns out to not want to.

- Bring a small pack towel for your dog to wipe it down if it gets wet. My dog loves to get wet after the sun goes down when it is actually a bit dangerous.

- Do lots of dayhikes with your dog to toughen up their pads, get them in shape, and get you familiar with their behavior. You need to recognize when your dog is starting to wear down and act accordingly.
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Re: Backpacking with small dogs...

Postby chrisdiercks » Thu Apr 25, 2013 8:15 am

Good for you getting your doxie out and exercised! Better for you and the dog. Pretty much in agreement with Schmalz although all my beasties have only wanted to go out at night when something else is out there. One of the reasons I use a tent most of the time now is that my shorthair pointer understands that she needs to ask me to get out of it, where as if we were just on the ground I would have to leash her to me just to be safe. She will explore if I am asleep. Couple other points to think about include;

1) Consider getting your dog snake avoidance training. She (your doxie) is a hunting dog at heart. How many times have you seen her put her head down and go into a bush or something? That's why most dogs get tagged in the face by rattlesnakes. The cure is expensive too. A friend's Lab got tagged in the paw and with immediate treatment the cost was $3500.

2) Overheating in dogs. Dogs have sweat glands on the bottom of their paws. They also cool themselves by panting and WITH THEIR EARS which act like radiators. Your Doxie has big ones. Bring extra water for getting her head and ears wet when she acts hot. Especially the ears; just keep pouring a little at a time over each ear till the bulging veins start to shrink while sitting in a shady spot. So not just extra to drink, but on hot days extra to pour over the head and ears.

I'm sure you will figure out your dogs patterns in the back country with little effort. Probably the main thing is to have control over her. Remember, she is a prey item for many animals out there. Do not let her get focused like a heat seeking missile chasing stuff and ignoring your commands. Especially larger animals. After the first day this will likely not be a problem anyway. A tired dog is a good dog :nod:
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Re: Backpacking with small dogs...

Postby Snowtrout » Thu Apr 25, 2013 3:20 pm

Thank you all for the info. Keeping them hydrated and from overheating seems to be the common theme. Plus bringing a towel is smart because the doxie loves sitting in creeks and the shallow part of a lake. Their little paws are a concern of mine though and toughening them up seems the best solution over booties. But a question: besides walking them on concrete/pavement, are there any products or remedies that could be used to toughen up their paws?

Chris, yes rattlesnakes are an issue but I am not to worried about the doxie. It's her son, the doxie poodle mix, that is the issue. He is a country dog that loves to stick his head in squirrel holes and would be classified as ADHD if that was possilbe. We blame the toy poodle part on that. Definitiely have to keep him on a short leash :nod:
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Re: Backpacking with small dogs...

Postby sekihiker » Thu Apr 25, 2013 5:03 pm

My dog, Beans, has been on many trips without a single complaint. She started hiking at age two when she weighed six pounds but has put on an extra pound in her old age. Even though she is 13, I think she could still hike. After all, she walks a couple of miles most days.
She even dictated a trip report to me for a trip we took in 2006.
Go to : <http://sierrahiker.home.comcast.net/~sierrahiker/IndianLakes/index.html> for her priceless take on one of our trips in the wilderness.
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Re: Backpacking with small dogs...

Postby chrisdiercks » Sat Apr 27, 2013 6:27 am

Snowtrout wrote: But a question: besides walking them on concrete/pavement, are there any products or remedies that could be used to toughen up their paws?


I have found that walking dogs on concrete and pavement actually wears their pads off and makes it so they grip less than if you walk them on a natural surface. But, you can get a pad toughener for your dog that is made for field trial and working dogs. One brand I have used in the past is Handhills Toughen-N-Up. Works pretty well and can act as a bandage if you want to bring it with you on a trip.
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Re: Backpacking with small dogs...

Postby rlown » Sat Apr 27, 2013 10:39 am

I agree completely with schmalz on the booties thing. Even if just for an emergency to cover the paw. They weigh nothing.
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Re: Backpacking with small dogs...

Postby larroyo33 » Tue Apr 30, 2013 8:00 pm

Hi, I have taken my nine pound Pomeranian, Fozzy, on several backpacking trips and most of the time along with my 60-pound Samoyed, MoMo. All I generally bring for them is food, a collapsible bowl, and a good jacket for the Pomeranian (Samoyeds are from Siberia, so no need for a jacket for MoMo). I have never had an issue with their paws, so I have never had them hike with dog boots on. My Pomeranian is so small that it is pointless to get him a pack and try to make him carry anything. I have a pack for my Samoyed, but I generally try to avoid using it since it affects his hiking endurance, so he can hike further if I carry his food for him.

They both can generally do about 8-10 miles a day depending on the elevation gain before they poop out. The great thing about having a small hiking dog, is that if he does poop out on you, it is really easy to just pick him up and carry him for another couple miles if necessary.

For sleeping, I always use a tent with them. They get spooked by all of nature's sounds once it gets dark, and they feel a lot safer once they are in the tent. But, this does mean usually waking up to let them go to the bathroom at some point in the middle of the night. I make a bed for my Pom using the padded side of my backpack and my down jacket. The Samoyed has lots of fur so he is fine just sleeping on the tent floor. One special thing I do with my Pom is because he loves to jump on me and start licking my face at 3 or 4 in the morning is I loop his leash through one of my tent poles and then attach it his collar, so that way he stays on one of side of the tent and cannot get to my face.

Here is a picture of my Pom on our way up to Big Pine Lakes

Image
Fozzy Looking Down The Canyon by larroyo33, on Flickr
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