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Backpacking With Dogs: Tips, Packing List, Training & Locations | Pupford

October 24th, 2023

Filed under Lifestyle + Stories

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Our dogs are our best friends, so we want to take them everywhere. Makes sense! Backpacking with dogs is a great way to get exercise and bond.

You’ll see some great sights, get some fresh air, and spend time together. They’ll keep you warm at night and entertained during the day.

There’s nothing better than that, and we’re sure your dog will agree.

But there are special considerations to be made when planning to go backpacking with your dog. So we’ve put together a little guide to help you figure out how to go backpacking with your dog in the safest, most enjoyable way.

Here’s what we’ll be covering today about backpacking with your dog:

  • Things to consider before backpacking with your dog
  • Spending a few days on your own with your pup
  • Tents, food, and all the backpacking essentials
  • Fun activities to do when backpacking
  • Popular dog-friendly backpacking locations

Let's dive into each one below. 👇

Before Backpacking With Your Dog: Consider These Factors

black-dog-backpacking-near-a-waterfall | Pupford

FIRST NOTE: Lengthy or strenuous hikes should be avoided for young puppies. Please consult your vet before going on a long hike with your puppy.

It’s so important to make sure backpacking is a suitable and safe activity for your dog. Here are things to consider before you plan a trip to go backpacking with your fur baby ⤵️

Your Dog’s Breed

Some breeds are naturally inclined to enjoy long periods of physical activity.

Other breeds, like pugs and bulldogs, have breathing concerns that can make going on a long backpacking trip a challenge. Consult your vet if you are unsure!

Your Dog’s Level of Physical Preparedness & Stamina

Backpacking often involves a lot of trails, hikes, and exploring. If your dog isn’t conditioned for that, it can cause injury.

It might be best to plan your trip a few months out to give you time to gradually build your dog’s stamina with walks and local hikes.

Your Dog's Level of Training & Obedience

You’ll want to make sure your dog is comfortable on a leash and follows all basic behaviors (especially recall training/come when called) before taking them backpacking. Solid leash behavior is important as well, especially since some trails are more safely explored while on leash vs off leash!

🐶 Don't miss out! Sign up for the free course, 30 Day Perfect Pup to work on important backpacking skills like leash walking, recall, and impulse control. Sign up here! 🐶

PS – The Recall Mastery Course walks you through step-by-step, level-by-level training to work up to off-leash recall. Check it out here!

Weather Conditions

Make sure you’re planning your trip for a location and time of year when the weather conditions aren’t too cold or too hot.

Remember, dogs can’t regulate their body temperatures the way we can so they need to be protected from extreme temperatures. Also remember that if the air is hot, the ground is likely hotter -- if it’s too hot for your bare feet, it’s WAY too hot for your pup’s paws! Read about how to keep your dog cool here.


Speaking of paws, you’ll want to thoroughly research your backpacking location to make sure there are trails that are safe for dog paws. Some trails may have terrain, brush types, or plants and animals that can be extremely dangerous for your dog.

So, do your research!

Water Availability

Does your location have water readily available? If they don’t, you’ll want to bring more water than you think you’ll need -- both for you and your dog.

Water filters are a must-have whenever out in the wilderness for extended periods of time!

Related Reading: 25 Fun Things to Do With Your Dog

Spending a Few Days on Your Own With Your Pup

dog-laying-in-tent-after-backpacking | Pupford

Spending a few days with your dog somewhere new is a really different experience than being at home. We definitely recommend getting your dog (and yourself) used to it by doing a “trial run” in a more familiar setting, like your home.

This will also give you the chance to take care of your pre-trip checklist way ahead of time.

Not sure what should be on your pre-trip checklist? We’ve got you covered (check out the PDF at the end of the article) ⤵️

  • Visit the vet for a check-up to make sure your dog is in good physical condition for a backpacking trip.
  • Double-check that all vaccines are up to date.
  • Check tags to make sure all information is up to date and visible. If not, order new ones.
  • Consider microchipping your dog.
  • Research what ticks are in that area, how to identify them, and what to do if your dog gets one.
  • Familiarize yourself with canine first aid. Brush up on your dog first aid here.
  • Make sure you have all the essentials you need for backpacking -- more on that soon!
  • Make a grooming appointment for right before the trip so coats and nails are not an issue!

Another important preparation step is getting your dog used to backpacking. There’s a good chance they’ve only slept in their bed, and being miles from home isn’t the best time to change that.

You can get your dog used to the idea of backpacking by doing a “test run” where you spend the night in a tent in your yard.

You’ll also want to ease them into long walks and hikes with a backpack if you’d like them to wear one during your trip. Make sure not to put anything too heavy in your dog’s backpack, especially as they are getting used to it.

The key to successfully backpacking with your dog is to practice beforehand!

🐶 Don't miss out! Sign up for the free course, 30 Day Perfect Pup to work on important backpacking skills like leash walking, recall, and impulse control. Sign up here! 🐶

Backpacking with Dogs Packing List: Tents, Food & More

2-dogs-out-hiking-wilderness-backpacking-with-dogs | Pupford

So now your big trip is coming up and it’s time to start getting everything you need and packing!

Here’s a list of the essentials you’ll need for backpacking with your dog (check out the PDF at the end of the article too) ⤵️

  • A leash, both a standard length and a long lead.
  • Your dog’s harness, collar, and tags.
  • A tent that’s designed for more than one person so you have plenty of room for you and your dog.
  • A cozy bed to rest in, like a Therm-a-Rest.
  • Either an insulated or cooling jacket, depending on the climate.
  • Your dog first aid kit.
  • Food (dehydrated food helps reduce weight) and treats, with an extra serving just in case there are any delays on your trip.
  • Poop bags. Lots of ‘em.
  • Towels for muddy or wet paws and dirty faces.
  • A rugged toy for playing and a plush toy for comfort.
  • Paw balm if you plan on doing a lot of off-trail hiking.
  • A collapsible dog bowl for food and water on the go.

Any backpacking essentials we missed? Tell us in the comments!

Fun Activities To Do When Backpacking With Dogs

white-dog-hiking-during-autumn | Pupford

You’ll want your backpacking trip to be a fun and memorable experience for both you and your dog.

Here are some fun activities to do on your trip ⏬

  • Hiking (just be sure to research trails ahead of time to make sure they are suitable for you and your pup’s experience levels).
  • Swimming -- water toys can take the game of fetch up a notch.
  • Classic games like fetch and tug of war (they will be extra exciting in a new environment)
  • A treasure hunt for treats in your tent.

It's important to remember that your dog will still likely enjoy some fun "play" time, even though they will be exercising most of the day.

🐶 Don't miss out! Sign up for the free course, 30 Day Perfect Pup to work on important backpacking skills like leash walking, recall, and impulse control. Sign up here! 🐶

Popular Dog-Friendly Backpacking Locations

dog-backpacking-with-human-in-snowy-mountains | Pupford

Planning the perfect backpacking trip with your dog starts by picking the perfect location -- and making sure it’s dog-friendly.

Here are some popular dog-friendly backpacking locations to jump-start your planning 🏔

Don’t forget to take a closer look at local regulations in the area you’re visiting. There may be ordinances about leashes, waste disposal, and other things you’ll want to be aware of.

Nothing a quick internet search can’t help you with!

Backpacking With Dogs Recap

Going out backpacking with your dog can be an extremely enjoyable experience! It's important to plan ahead, pack the essentials, and make sure your dog's behaviors and training are polished before heading for the trails.

Did we forget anything from any of our lists? If you have any other great ideas, we’d love for you to leave them in the comments below!

And be sure to tag us (@pupford on Instagram) in pictures when you go backpacking with your dog!

Before you go! Check out this printable checklist for getting ready and what you need to pack for backpacking with your dog ⛰

🐶 Don't miss out! Sign up for the free course, 30 Day Perfect Pup to work on important backpacking skills like leash walking, recall, and impulse control. Sign up here! 🐶


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