If you enjoy spending time outdoors with your dog and are considering taking him with you on a hiking, camping or backpacking trip this summer, you’ll want to be prepared. Choose an appropriate trail by understanding your dog’s abilities and by researching pet-friendly trails and their difficulty ratings–review a topographic map of the trail if possible. Of course, check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s limitations.
When you find the place that sounds right for you and your dog, know the park’s rules for pets, permit requirements, and make your reservations early. Many parks do not allow pets on trails or in the backcountry, but plenty of parks do allow dogs on trails and in campgrounds but may have restrictions or limit them to specific areas. In Kansas, check the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks for contact info for state parks. Woodall’s North American Campground Directory lists pet-friendly campgrounds and RV parks. Visit the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service for their pet, permit, and camping regulations.
The following books may answer some of the questions you have about whether or not your dog is ready for a short hike or backpacking, sleeping in a tent, or carrying his own supplies. You’ll find checklists for what to pack, what to put in your dog’s first aid kit, and what kind of water purifier to buy if you can’t transport enough water. You’ll be reminded to learn about the wildlife of the region and what to do if you encounter wildlife, to be equipped for inclement weather, and to waterproof your packs. If you and your dog are well prepared, you should have a great time!
Hiking With Your Dog, by Gary Hoffman. This book starts by providing training tips to get your dog ready for hiking and backpacking. The appendix includes a quick reference on dog CPR.
Backpacking and Hiking, by Karen Berger. This is an excellent resource for planning and preparing to spend extended time outdoors.
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Backpacking and Hiking, by Jason Stevenson. Lots of helpful instructions here with brief info devoted to hiking with dogs.
A Guide to Backpacking with Your Dog, by Charlene G. LaBelle. The Choosing a Pack chapter has good information and photos explaining the dog pack, and the Packing Up chapter explains how to pack it for maximum efficiency and comfort.
Ruffing It: The Complete Guide to Camping with Dogs, by Mardi Richmond and Melanee L. Barash. Read this before you go camping and you’ll be glad you did. Check out the appendices for further reading and references.