Taking Your K9 Hiking and Camping

By on February 20, 2015

Photo by: Christopher MichelCamping and hiking is always fun, but can be even more fun when you are able to bring your furry companion along. However, like any trip, it is important the proper plan is put into place. Do not try to skip the planning steps if your dog is included because it can create serious concerns.


There are many places and seasons to go hiking and camping. Some people, like me, consider it to be only camping if its deep in the woods with nobody around for miles, but for others invokes the thought of a camper/tent at a public camp site with a bathroom on site.

Where you plan on going and what you plan on doing is probably the largest determinant in deciding to bring your dog or not. Certain dogs are suited for better environments than others. If you love to go winter camping, then bringing along your Siberian Husky or Tibetan Mastiff is a good idea because these dogs love snow and winter.

However, taking these dogs along with you as you hike across the Mojave desert is a terrible idea because you run the risk of overheating your dog. Warmer places are better suited for dog breeds like Golden Retrievers and Golden Shorthaired Pointers. Even though these dogs are suited for certain climates do be sure to take proper care of them.

The general rule is the more comfortable that you are the safer it is for all breeds of dogs to go with you. If your idea of hiking is a place with lots of people and easy access to water and other amenities, then it is pretty safe for most dogs. The more survival instincts and skills that you need the more evaluation and preparation needed when bringing your dog.


If you like to or intend to take your dog off its leash while hiking or camping be sure that your dog is properly trained. Your dog does not need to be the best dog, but it does need to be trained to a certain level on or off the leash.

The woods will be a new and unique experience for your dog, so they will want to sniff everything in sight. As a result, your dog might try to wander off or stray away from the path in order to smell something or even chase after a squirrel. It is important that your dog understands some commands when going hiking or camping.

Come: This command can be used when your dog does wander off.

Stay: This command can be used for when they are eager to chase a squirrel or something else.

Leave it: This command can be used to tell your dog to drop whatever it might have in its mouth or wants to sniff.



Nothing could probably annoy dog owners and non-dog owners more than a dog’s behavior. So before you go running off on to the trails with your K9 be sure your dog behaves in a way that will not aggravate fellow hikers and campers.


Does the neighbor’s dog bark all night and keep you awake? All of us have been there were a dog barking become annoying especially when your purpose for hiking and camping is to get away from the city life, which is often the case for me.

If your dog is a barker, then it is probably best to consider leaving them home or be sure to have them trained not to bark. Certain breeds are prone to bark such as: chihuahuas, terriers, and yorkies.


If your dog likes to put things in its mouth be very careful as you never know what bugs, plants, or berries your dog could put into its mouth. This is where training your dog to respond to the “leave it” command comes in very handy.


Due to the curiosity of some dogs, be sure to put them on a short lease if they like to wander and are not trained properly. Dogs could wander off the trail or into an unfriendly dog camping spot. Remember not everyone likes dogs.

Last time I went camping with my brother, we were Arkansas hiking a trail with his Jack Russell Terrier, Zoey. Terriers just love to wander off the trail and smell everything in sight, especially my brothers dog. Needless to say, we spent a lot of time trying to unwrap Zoey from trees because she would go off path and wrap herself around the trunk of a tree.

Physical Capabilities

The physical capabilities of a dog include their age, size, and strength. If you own a small dog then they will tire out quickly. It is just like children whose legs feel tired only after a mile walking. So either take into consideration how far you will be going and the size of your dog. If you plan to walk 15 miles a day and you own a small dog, it is probably best not to bring your dog unless you don’t mind carrying your dog a lot of the time.

Age can really take its toll on a dog. I use to walk a Golden Retriever that was blind, deaf, and ready to go. You could not walk more than half a mile with the dog and had to walk on the grass because shortly after beginning the walk the dog would begin scrapping its paws on the ground because it was too tired to lift its legs. If we did not walk on the grass the dog would scrape its paws on the sidewalk causing them to bleed.

Breeds and Temperaments

Before you take off to the trails yet consider the breed and temperament of your pooch. Certain breeds love the outdoors like German Shorthaired Pointers, but other breeds hate the thought of going out. Though breeds can give you a starting point for what your dog likes just remember they are generalizations. Each dog is unique and has their own personality. I have trained German Shepherds that want to bite everyone’s hand off and others that want to be petted by every stranger in the world.

I recommend not bringing smaller breeds such as terriers and chihuahuas on deep wood hiking and camping. Great dogs to go out are labs, retrievers, and most border collies.

First Aid and Care

All the planning in the world does not mean accidents will not occur. While hiking and camping with your dog their are some basic rules and requirements for care and first aid.

Be sure to feed and give your dog plenty of water, give it rest if it needs. I know a gentleman who was watching a dog for a friend and he decided to take it out hiking in the middle of Summer. Needless to say, the dog ended up dying because of neglect for the dog. Don’t let that happen to you.

Keep first aid and vet numbers on you when going camping. If you like to do a lot of deep woods camping consider taking a dog first aid class.

Now you are ready and equipped to hit the trails with your dog. Happy Trekking!


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