As its name suggests, dog backpacking involves heading into the great outdoors for a long hike - or even camping trip - with your canine companion in tow. As with most excursions, the idea is to carry just enough equipment to last you both for the duration of your trip. It is not unreasonable to expect your dog to carry his own gear (and hopefully some of yours!) while dog backpacking - in fact, it's central to the appeal of the activity.
Firstly, it is important to ensure you have a good fitting backpack for your dog. Take a look at our article on “Which Dog Backpack is best for my dog?” to help you select the correct backpack for your needs.
Next, make a list of all of the items that you will need for your trip – for both you and for your dog.
This will include things such as:*
- Dog Water Bowl – a collapsible water bowl is a great addition, as it can fold down to take up very little space, or even clip to the outside of the backpack
- Clean Drinking Water – for you and your dog. You may not find any water on your route, so make sure you take enough with you – just in case
- Some food, treats and snacks – again for both of you to replenish your energy during your rest stops.
- Dog boots – In case of injury to the pads or paws.
- A towel – to dry either you or your dog if it rains or you get wet.
- First Aid kit - with equipment to support both you and your dog.
If you are planning on a longer, overnight trip, you will need a tent and sleeping equipment, as well as more food and drink, and a change of clothes.
Anything that you get your dog to carry in his/her backpack, I would recommend wrapping in plastic bags to ensure it stays dry in case it rains, or your dog stops for a paddle in a river or puddle. Always carry your own sleeping bag – you definitely want that to remain dry!
When packing your dog’s backpack, make sure you do not put any sharp or uneven objects into the panel of the backpack that sits against your dog’s side. Ensure each side of the backpack is weighted evenly. Many backpacks have compression straps that help secure the backpack to your dog and stop the backpack from rolling around whilst your dog is walking.
After the correct training, your dog can easily carry his/her water and food supplies, and some of your equipment too.
Dog backpacking is one of the safest activities for you and your dog to enjoy together, allowing you both to explore the world around you while getting valuable exercise.
* (The above list is only some recommended items – the list is non-exhaustive and you need to ensure that you take the necessary equipment for your trip)