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When is my dog ready to backpack?

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When is my dog ready to backpack?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Jun 01, 2013 10:08 am

Not sure this is the right place to put this post.

I have an 11-month old border collie. She is my husband's dog and he went to Spain for 3 weeks. Long story about why I did not go too- conflicting schedules with promised babysitting grandkids! Anyway, here I am, back home, and want to go backpacking. The dog is extensively trained, and walks 5 miles a day now, half off leash and half on leash. She has done day hikes on trails. She is good about not chasing deer, wild turkeys and is good with people. She will "lay down" and "come" on command at distance. Only problem is that nothing stops here from chasing jackrabbits and she is still aggressive with other dogs who growl at her. I would not put a pack on her, as she is too young for that. I am a bit apprehensive, though. I am thinking of a 2-3 day trip, only 6-7 miles a day, and all on trail for her first trip, probably Desolation Wilderness from Wrights Lake. Those of you with dogs, do you let them inside the tent or do they sleep outside. If outside the tent, are they tied up? My biggest fear is that she will run off and not come back, however, she is a cautious dog and has never done that. Any suggestions? Should I do this trip?



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Re: When is my dog ready to backpack?

Postby PatrickQuin » Sat Jun 01, 2013 11:01 am

Daisy, given she is a very outdoor dog to begin with, I personally think she would be fine. I started taking my dog backpacking about the same age. If she does relatively long day hikes and is a good sport the only question is how will she do with overnighting. My girl is relatively stressed sitting idle in camp, and she demands a lot on tent time because that is the only place she can relax. There is simply too much stimuli and area to protect, she needs her den. I learned this the first solo trip I did with her, making dinner in the dark she just started barking directly into the trees at camp, it was very unsettling. So now I fish after dinner, no exceptions. I'd also consider her feet, the booties are a mixed bag, but ultimately worth it, and depending on the dog, totally necessary. Bring her a little blanket/bed or use extra clothes to keep her off the cold ground. And keep an eye on her, my dog managed a role in an old trout that first trip. They always find time to be mischievous puppies, backcountry not withstanding!
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Re: When is my dog ready to backpack?

Postby Snowtrout » Sat Jun 01, 2013 12:24 pm

From what you said, your dog sounds ready to go. Don't be afraid of a pack for him, out little doxie has a xxsmall pack and carries it no problem.

We have our dogs sleep in our tent in their own little sleeping bag (thank you Slumberjack). If you have room in the tent, bring a foam mat for your dog to sleep on.

A few things I learned on our last trip: bring doggie aspirin (just in case), food they like (ours hated the doggie power bars from REI), and baby oil to remove pine sap. If they start limping, check to see if a pine needle or sap is in their paw.
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Re: When is my dog ready to backpack?

Postby k9mark » Sat Jun 01, 2013 1:09 pm

Well, here is my two cents as one who has been a canine handler and trainer for decades. If your dog will not stop chasing rabbits, that is a problem. I would tell you your dog needs to be on a leash. 100 hundred percent reliability off leash is the goal and can be done. Your dog only needs more training in that area. I would urge you to seek out a professional training In your area to get it done. It will require a lot of repetitive work as well as work on the dog aggression problem.
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Re: When is my dog ready to backpack?

Postby whrdafamI? » Sat Jun 01, 2013 1:20 pm

WD, my dog Max is now 14 mo's old and will be doing his first multi day trip in August. I have the Ruff Wear boots for him and I think they are mandatory. Granite just tears up the paw pads something terrible. There is nothing to substantiate one persons claims on here that they are bad for dogs. I think it is worse not to have them and have been down that road before. It is a sure fire way to put a damper on a trip if your dogs paws are tore up. I also have saddle bags for Max and he carries them just fine. The trick to that is not to over load him. We raised Max in a crate and that is still where he sleeps every night so having his own little tent was a logical solution. I got one of the REI Dog Adventure tents and it does just fine. They don't make them anymore and the poles were pure junk. I had a set of alloy poles made for it and now it does the job.
Last edited by whrdafamI? on Sun Jun 02, 2013 4:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: When is my dog ready to backpack?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Jun 01, 2013 9:03 pm

My dog (and my husband and myself) has been in professional training since she was 4 months old! She is 100% perfect when we are at the training sessions, 90 % reliable with my husband who is her primary "handler" and 80% reliable with me. She is a very stubborn independent dog and has an extremely strong herding instinct! I am not sure what is defined as aggressive behavior. She is very nice with dogs who are nice to her. But on our regular leash-walk there are several fenced yards with vicious dogs. When the come to the fence, crash into the fence, barking and growling, she responds. At the dog park she is better behaved than 90% of the other dogs however she does like to herd them. She plays well with dogs who want to play, but defends herself when a group gang up on her. I have pretty much quite going to the dog park because of all the ill behaved dogs there. If there is another herding instinct dog, they play (herd each other) very well together. She is great with small children and all people.

I agree, she will be on a leash most of the time if we go backpacking. Although she is better trained and better behaved than a lot of dogs I see on the trail. As for dog booties, she regularly walks on rough ground, in bushes, off-trail and on rocks. We will do a short hike for her first hike. She also sleeps in a crate at home, but I sleeps at our feet when we car camp and sleep in the back of the truck. I would like to get her to sleep in the tent vestibule. I do not want to get my very expensive sleeping bag dirty. If she sleeps in the tent I will have to get a bag liner. As for her dog food, it does not weigh that much for a 2 day trip so I will just carry it for now. She only eats 1.5 cups of dry dog food a day. And yes, she is a puppy! She as already rolled in dead salmon.
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Re: When is my dog ready to backpack?

Postby 87TT » Sat Jun 01, 2013 9:53 pm

Shawna went on her first trip at 4 mos.
Image

Now she is 5 and carrys her food, bed and boots.
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Re: When is my dog ready to backpack?

Postby whrdafamI? » Sun Jun 02, 2013 4:39 am

Biased opinion but nothing better than a Lab!
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Re: When is my dog ready to backpack?

Postby schmalz » Mon Jun 03, 2013 12:17 pm

I waited until Callie was a year old before I started putting a pack on her, but at 6 months she was doing some pretty big dayhikes with me. By 18 months old she was ready for anything. This year we're going for a 9 day trip, a lot of it offtrail. This past weekend she helped me get up with my busted toe, and carried 10 pounds of gear (not bad for a 40 pound dog).
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Re: When is my dog ready to backpack?

Postby schmalz » Mon Jun 03, 2013 12:32 pm

Bill Morell wrote:There is nothing to substantiate one persons claims on here that they are bad for dogs.


Here are a few quotes from a single web page found in a simple google search.

http://www.trailspace.com/forums/backco ... 56631.html

"I've talked with some folks who operate dog pack hiking tours here in Canada and also in Alaska. They pretty much reiterated opinions here, but FYI here is what I learned:

They tend not to put booties on as long as the dog's feet are doing fine, because they will always have better traction without them."

"If a dog has dew claws, there can be major injury to the dog from booties - dogs have had to be put down over bootie abuse."

"we go into some pretty steep terrain and I think the booties cause him to loose a lot of traction and dexterity that he normally has without the booties."

Maybe you shouldn't be trying to be a guru on the subject here Bill, considering the one trip report you've provided here with a dog had you taking a dog into Kings Canyon illegally for multiple days.
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Re: When is my dog ready to backpack?

Postby 87TT » Mon Jun 03, 2013 1:51 pm

My last Lab get sore footed once to the point of almost having to carry her out 12 miles. I made a set of boots with duct tape and tent footprint. I now get Shawna in shape by day hiking and always carry a set of boots. They are more like first aid than on all the time. If you get some, make sure they fit, stay on and are durable before you find out the hard way.
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Re: When is my dog ready to backpack?

Postby whrdafamI? » Mon Jun 03, 2013 2:23 pm

I guess if my comments to WD suggest to you that I am being a guru you really need to look at yourself.
Last edited by whrdafamI? on Tue Jun 04, 2013 4:44 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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