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09 May 2007

Anybody ever go backpacking with a dog? Because I am next month, and I have a few questions, which I will post inside shortly and would dearly love to get some thoughts about if you are so inclined.
I'm a reasonably experienced backpacker, and a reasonably experienced dog-owner, but I haven't combined the two. So I wonder:

1. We've gotten Freja a pack, but I'm not 100% clear on how tight it should be. I think I might have the straps too loose, since it imbalances easily; but I worry about making it too tight and irritating her.

2. What's the best way to handle sleeping arrangements? My wife and I are tentatively thinking she can sleep in the tent with us, but that seems less than ideal. What do you do?

3. Freja's a big water drinker. Should I make an effort to stop her from gulping the streams and rivers we'll be crossing (we'll be in the relatively unpolluted Superior Hiking Trail in northern MN)?

4. Any other suggestions for hiking with hounds?
posted by cobra! 09 May | 11:26
Is she used to sleeping outdoors by herself? If not, she might be scared on her own outside the tent.
posted by essexjan 09 May | 11:28
She sleeps indoors, in a crate a room away from us. So yeah, we're worried that outside-the-tent-by-herself might scare her. But I keep having this urge to find a little dog-sized tent for her.
posted by cobra! 09 May | 11:32
I can't help you with question 1, since I've never gone backpacking with my dogs. I have, however, gone camping with them any number of times. I let them sleep in the tent with me. If they seem uncomfortable, I let them figure it out. My old dog, Toby, didn't want to be in the tent and instead always made himself a bed just outside, under the edge of the rain fly; Theo wants to be in the tent with us. I tried the little dog tent once and it was no go - they just didn't seem to get the concept, somehow - so I wouldn't pack the extra weight if I was you. I have also always let my dogs drink from whatever streams and rivers and puddles we come across and they have never gotten sick, but I'm aware that I may be in a minority of rough and tumble pet ownership here and that some dogs have been known to get sick from bad water. Still, my mutts never have.
posted by mygothlaundry 09 May | 11:50
I don't have any tips for you... but I bet she's going to just love this. Have fun!
posted by sbutler 09 May | 11:50
What's going to be in her pack? I'm intrigued. She's so pretty.
posted by iconomy 09 May | 11:55

The original plan was for her to carry her own food, water, collapsible bowl, poop bags, and whatever; but some test walks around the neighborhood have shown me that the pack's really tippy, especially with something as heavy as water. So she might carry some of my lightweight gear while I carry her water and food and junk.
posted by cobra! 09 May | 12:39
What a cutie pie! I love walking in the woods with our pooches - I bet she'll have a blast!
posted by chewatadistance 09 May | 12:44
She is such a sweetie.

This faq has some good advice. I googled because I was wondering about booties but didn't want to ask lest I appear idiotic ;P

This is worth reading too.
posted by iconomy 09 May | 12:53
Thanks for the links... except that I don't think she'll be too thrilled about this suggested item from the second one:

Canine anal thermometer

posted by cobra! 09 May | 13:40
She looks to be more embarrassed by the backpack than the bunny ears.
posted by StickyCarpet 09 May | 15:00
She probably thought that the bunny ears were functional, and that wearing them allowed her to hear better...

Actually, she likes her backpack now that I've established that wearing it means treats and going for walks. Dogs are awesome in that cause-and-effect way.
posted by cobra! 09 May | 15:10
They sell pop-up nylon tents for dogs that cost about $15-$35 (in the pet section.) You can buy one at just about any discount superstore (Target, Meijer, Walmart, etc.) If she's used to a crate - this might give her a sense of security. (Depending on how large your tent is you could probably toss the thing in a corner without having to put her outside. This also creates some minimal privacy for you and the wife.)
posted by fluffy battle kitten 09 May | 16:37