We have a soft spot for trail dogs. Is there anything better than seeing the floppy tongue and peppy prance of a dog happy to be out in the woods with their human? It's hard to beat, that's for sure. If it's your first time bringing your pup along, here are some things to consider before hitting the trail!
Always Plan Ahead
Does the trail even allow dogs? If you’re using a trail app like AllTrails, turn on the “dogs on leash allowed" filter. On more difficult routes, read through the reviews and comments as well to see if anyone mentions tricky obstacles you might encounter that could present a challenge for your pup.
How many days will you be gone? Plan accordingly and pack enough dog food. Pre-measure it out into a separate ziplock bag. I like to add at least a scoop extra just in case.
Is there plenty of water along the trail? If not, you need to factor in water for your pup when determining how much to carry for yourself.
What is the weather forecast? To put it simply: Rain means mud. We're convinced mud magically multiples when it gets on a dog. We suggest packing something, whether it's a lightweight pack towel or even an old t-shirt, to wipe your dog down before they crawl all over your clean, dry Zenbivy Bed. For those "Oh no!" moments that are bound to happen, you can find our washing instructions here.
Abide by the leash rules. If a trail specifically states that dogs must be kept on a leash, please do so. Leash rules are in place to protect fragile vegetation, wildlife, other hikers/animals, and your own dog.
Is your pup ready? Even if a trail does not require your dog to be leashed, they should be trained to stay on the trail just like human hikers. If your dog’s high-energy excitement translates into them chasing and terrorizing wildlife and other hikers/dogs, they are simply not ready yet. But that's okay! Start small and train them as you go. Keep both training treats and their leash handy. This way you can easily reward them for their good behavior but also be able to quickly put them back on the lead when necessary.
Everyone’s favorite topic... Yes, dogs are animals but they are visitors to the woods, just like us. You need to treat your dog’s poop like you would treat your own. Pack it out or bury it, depending on the environment you are hiking in. Review Leave No Trace guidelines if you are unsure.
Check In On Your Pet
Check with your vet.If you plan on taking your pup on adventures, always talk to your vet first and see if they would recommend any specific vaccinations/medications. Remember, your dog relies on you to keep them healthy and safe!
Check their paws. This is especially important on long treks. Do their paws look normal and healthy? Protect your dog's paws by getting them a pair of booties if necessary. Definitely practice with these at home first. It can be quite the hilarious learning curve.
Check for ticks. Especially if you are in an area of the country where ticks are prevalent, after you’ve done your nightly tick check make sure you check your dog as well.
Check for chaffing. Does your dog wear a harness? Double check a few times throughout the day to make sure it is not rubbing them wrong and causing irritation. If it is, give your dog a break from it to let the irritated area breath. When doing high miles, the repetitive movements can cause problems where problems may not have occurred in the past.
Time To Cozy Up!
We find most dogs like to snuggle up to their human when catching some z's. After all, you're their favorite! It's where they feel safe and where they feel they can keep you safe. Having a sleep system with more space than a mummy bag really comes in handy. The versatility of a Zenbivy Bed and the extra space it provides makes for a happy pup and a happy owner.
To compress or not to compress? That’s the question. Compression caps (and compression in general…) are hotly debated within the backpacking community. Even the Zenbivy Team has opposing opinions on the use of compression caps.
Temperatures are warming and summer is just around the corner. If you've always wanted to try backpacking now's the time to get ready for a summer outdoors. Backpacking is a lot of fun, especially with a few friends, and doesn't have to come with all the struggle and discomfort associated with it.
Deciding what to eat in the outdoors stumps even seasoned backpackers, but having a delicious meal when you get to camp can take your trip to the next level. There are many good options for calorie-dense freeze-dried meals, just head to your local outdoor store and pick your menu.