There are about 471 million pet dogs worldwide. If you have a pet dog, don’t keep them cooped up inside! Instead, consider taking humankind’s best friend on a backpacking trip.

Backpacking with pets doesn’t have to feel stressful. Review this guide before you go to plan an easy, fulfilling trip. With these tips, you can make memories bound to last a lifetime alongside your furry friend. 

Start planning your hiking trip with these tips today. 

Backpacking Trip

Visit the Vet

Before your big backpacking trip, plan a trip to the vet. Regular visits to the vet will ensure your furry friend is in the best possible health.

Discuss any concerns you have about your upcoming hiking trip with the vet beforehand. They can provide helpful tips regarding dog first aid.

During the appointment, make sure to review your dog’s:

  • Heartworm prevention
  • Flea and tick prevention
  • Vaccines

Confirm they’re up-to-date on all treatments to avoid potential health problems. Drinking bad water or getting bitten by a bug could lead to health concerns after your trip. Visiting the vet ahead of time will help you feel confident about taking your dog along with you. 


Make sure your dog has an ID tag before your hiking drip. The ID should list your name and phone number. Consider getting them microchipped as well.

If your dog runs off, anyone who finds them can call you. If the worst happens and your dog gets lost, you’ll have peace of mind. 

Pack Gear

Determine what gear and pet accessories you’ll need to bring with you ahead of time. Here are a few items to consider packing:

  • Leash
  • Harness or collar
  • Necessary medications
  • An extra meal for you both
  • Extra water
  • First aid kit
  • A daypack
  • Food and water bowls
  • Poop bags
  • Training treats
  • A collar light
  • Snacks
  • Boots or Musher’s wax
  • Clothing suitable for weather conditions
  • A towel
  • A toy
  • Dog sleeping bag/blanket

Try to only bring the essentials to avoid weighing yourself down. Consider this large dog carrier, which doubles as a backpacking pack. 

Know Their Limits

Before the big hiking trip, consider going out on a few short-day trips. Day trips and longer walks can help you determine your dog’s limits. Though your dog can’t tell you when they’re in pain or comfortable, you can learn how to identify when they’ve maxed out on energy.

If you’re planning a challenging or long hike, plan ahead. First, try to go on a day when the weather isn’t too severe. Keep an eye out for signs of distress, such as:

  • Loud breathing
  • Lagging behind
  • Excessive panting

These behaviors could indicate your dog needs a break. Move to a shady area and let them have some water or a snack.

Your dog will determine how many miles you hit during your backpacking trip. If they’ve hit their limit, don’t push them. 

Grab Their Leash

Many areas require owners to keep their dogs on a leash. These rules help protect sensitive ecosystems and wildlife in the area. 

Keeping your dog on a leash can also keep them safe in high-traffic areas. They can enjoy their time without getting lost. If they see other dogs or hikers, you can also keep them from running off.

Determine if the area requires dogs to remain on a leash ahead of time. 

Don’t take your dog to any areas where pets aren’t permitted. These areas usually have sensitive areas or protected species of wildlife. You might have to pay a fine if you take your dog to a restricted area. 

Start Training

If your dog is new to backpacking, make sure to train them in basic commands ahead of time. At the very least, make sure they can:

  • Sit
  • Stay
  • Leave it
  • Come

The command “come” (or another recall command) is important if they’re going to be off-leash at any point. The command “leave it” is important if they try nibbling on flora or chasing fauna. These commands can help you protect your dog from themselves. 

Have a few treats on hand to reward them for their good behavior when they listen to commands.

Plan for Waste

Plan to deal with pet waste, especially during longer hikes. Leaving waste on the ground could destabilize the ecosystem by introducing foreign matter to the area. It’s also gross for other hikers to encounter.

Take a gallon ziplock bag with you to isolate your dog’s doody bags from the rest of your backpacking gear. Line one of your pack’s pockets with a plastic bag just in case. 

Don’t leave poop bags on the trails. 

Stay Hydrated

You and your dog will end up burning extra calories during your hikes. Plan ahead by packing plenty of water and a few snacks. Consider bringing cheese, jerky, or peanut butter to keep their energy levels up.

Consider asking your vet how many extra calories your dog should consume during these hikes. 

Filter all the water you offer your dog to minimize their exposure to water-borne illnesses.

Backpacking Trip

Bring a First Aid Kit

Bring a first aid kit along on your trip and know how to use it. Remember, your vet can provide you with some tips. It’s best to plan for accidents, even if they don’t happen.

Otherwise, try to avoid trail hazards, including:

  • Steep ledges
  • Thin ice
  • Swift water

Keep your safety and your dog’s safety in mind. On days when the weather is cold, bring a jacket to isolate your dog. If it’s hunting season, dress them in a reflective vest. 

Protect Their Paws

Protect your dog’s paws before heading out on rough terrain. Otherwise, they’ll develop tears and blisters on their paw pads. You can purchase hiking boots to protect your dog from abrasive or rocky terrain.

For sand, ice, snow, or hot trails, consider Musher’s Wax. 

Plan a Backpacking Trip With Your Pup

Get ready for an amazing adventure alongside your furry friend. Use these tips to plan your next backpacking trip with your dog. Using these tips will ensure your safety and theirs!

Have fun backpacking with pets! Make sure to take plenty of photos.

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