63 comments / Posted on by Jason Graham

Backpacking with dogs might seem like a far-fetched idea, but dogs can actually be great companions for your outdoor backpacking adventure. Your pup can make backpacking so much more fun, comfortable, and joyous.

More than that, backpacking with dogs can bring an added level of security. Since they have a keen sense of sound and smell, they are in tune with their surroundings. Your dog can alert you to any potential danger or wildlife nearby.

Still, backpacking with dogs requires some thought beforehand. You need to make sure that both you and your pup have everything you need in your backpack. If you are not sure where to start when it comes to backpacking with dogs, here’s a short guide.

Picking Your Route

Before you head off on your backpacking adventure with your dog, you should research the area you are heading to. Some areas have regulations that don’t allow dogs. Others allow dogs, but only if the dogs are leashed. Information like this is crucial for planning your backpacking trip with your dog.

You should also look into the difficulty rating of you the route you plan on taking for your backpacking trip. You should match the difficulty rating to what you and your pup can handle together.


When it comes to backpacking with dogs, there are some measures you need to take well in advance in regard to training. Backpacking can be physically demanding on your pup and might require your dog to wear some equipment that they are not used to.

Endurance Training

In order to have a fun time backpacking with your dog, you will both need to make sure that you are physically prepared for your outdoor adventure. Taking your dog on regular walks and hikes will help him build up his endurance for your backpacking trip.

Try starting off with easier hiking and walking routes. After a while, you can start to progress to more challenging trails. Working up your dog’s endurance training your pup’s trail etiquette will help you avoid any hiccups while on your backpacking trip.

Dog Packs

Dog packs are a great way to increase the number of items you can bring without putting all the weight on your back. Dog packs are lightweight backpacks shaped specifically for a dog’s body. They can help you, and your dog carry essential items on your outdoor adventure.

Dog packs will take some getting used to. If you do not already have a dog pack and want to use one when backpacking with dogs, you should start training early. Begin by using a regular harness on your pup for your regular walks and hikes. After your dog is used to a harness, you can move onto an empty dog pack.

Starting the dog pack off empty is crucial since it might feel strange at first to your dog. After some time you can gradually add more weight to the pack. You should never add too much to your dog’s dog pack since their backs cannot support as much weight.

The Essentials

Each time you head out with your dog, there is a list of essentials you have to bring with you. For short walks, that can be poop bags. But for backpacking, you need to pack a few more items to be fully prepared. In addition to poop bags, here are some essential items you need when backpacking with dogs:

  • A First-Aid Kit
  • A Leash
  • A Jacket
  • A Small Toy
  • A Dog Towel
  • A Water Container and Dish
  • Safety Lights and Bells
  • Enough Food to Last

Having these items are crucial to make sure your dog stays hydrated, nourished, dry, and safe. Be sure to bring these along on your backpacking trip with your dog.


A tent will likely be your shelter for the night when backpacking with your dog. Get your dog used to sleeping in a tent with you before you set out. Pack a lightweight sleeping pad for your pup too so that they can have a comfy rest after a fun day of backpacking.

A Vet Check-Up

Before backpacking with dogs, you will want to head to the vet for a quick check-up. Making sure your dog’s vaccinations are up to date can safeguard your dog against preventable illnesses.

Potential Trail Hazards

It is always good to know any potential hazards that may exist in the area before you head out. But there are some general hazards that come with backpacking with dogs in general.

Wild Plants

You are likely to encounter some strange and wild plants on your backpacking trip. It is important to keep an eye on your pup so that they do not eat one of these foreign plants that can cause issues ranging from digestive issues to poisoning.

Some other plants such as poison ivy or oak can be a hazard to your pup’s skin. Burrs and thorns are other wild plants that you should try to avoid. These can nick your dog and get stuck in your pup’s fur, which can prove to be a headache later on.


When heading out into nature, you are putting you and your dog in the natural habitat of many wild animals. You should try to stay aware of your surroundings. If you are concerned about your dog straying too far from the path, your leash can be your best defense in protecting against any wildlife encounters.

Heat Stroke and Exhaustion

Backpacking with dogs can be tiring, especially when it is hot out. To protect against exhaustion and heat stroke, take plenty of breaks. On your breaks, refuel with food and water to make sure you and your dog can go the distance.

Other Considerations

If your dog is the anxious type or struggles with joint pain or arthritis, consider giving your dog some cannabidiol (CBD) for your backpacking trip. CBD is a compound that is naturally derived from hemp.

CBD has been clinically shown to reduce anxiety and ameliorate the symptoms of joint pain or arthritis. What’s more, is that CBD has no negative side effects. Try giving your dog CBD treats for a tasty way to comfort your pup.

This article is originally published at FOMO Bones.


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