If you are anything like me, your dog is your best friend. When I move, she moves; when I get up, she gets up. And, when I leave, she tries everything to get out that door with me. This “problem” led my boyfriend and I to research taking our dog hiking and camping with us.

Google is a great way to find communities of outdoor enthusiasts who bring their furry friends hiking and camping. These communities offer great suggestions and advice, so that Fido stays happy while on the trails. But, if I have learned anything from owning three dogs that I regularly take camping and hiking, it’s that nothing beats the age-old trial-and-error approach. This is why I hope sharing some of my successes and failures will leave the next hiker with a tail-wagging experience they can’t wait to repeat.

1. Know your Trail Conditions

Before you leave, check out the many online sites providing accurate and up-to-date trail conditions. Sites like NewEnglandTrailConditions.com give you daily reports on trail surfaces, with many noting any hazards or obstacles that could pose difficulties for people and dogs alike.

In 2014, we made the mistake of neglecting to check out trail conditions before hitting Mt. Moriah, and needless to say, we, along with our dog, were in for a long, daunting, and rough hike. While the “pot-holes” that stalled us were a tiring problem for everyone, another, more serious danger is when a trail involves a low level of rock climbing.

Recently hiking the Glen Boulder Trail, we discovered this issue first hand when we encountered a woman struggling with her dog to make it down the rock face. The poor dog was so frightened that my boyfriend had to carry her down until the trail turned back to dirt.

Camping with Dogs

2. Invest in Doggy Gear

I am obsessed with shopping, but for a hiker, that trait can often be costly. While I concede that maybe I really didn’t need that fourth Hydro Flask glass, we did need our doggy gear. So far, the best purchases have included RuffWear’s Approach Pack, and Bark’N Grip Boots.

While on the pricier side, this gear allows our dog to carry her own weight, thus saving our backs, and ensures her paws will be protected over any type of terrain. Disaster is spelled if your dog can’t walk and you have to carry him miles down a trail.

3. Packing for Your Dog

Just like people do, your dog needs ample food and water for a strenuous day of hiking. However, whenever you hike, water accounts for a majority of the weight you carry. Although this may seem like the perfect place to skimp, especially if you have a filtration system, water is never a guarantee in the backcountry. So, for your dog’s pack, make sure to add enough food and water. You want them to be as prepared for the unexpected as you are.

4. Be Mindful of Your Dog

Does your dog listen to commands? Is he friendly? If you are planning to take your dog hiking or camping, these are two serious questions you need to ask yourself. If your dog does not do well with other people or dogs, then taking him hiking is probably not the greatest idea.

Also not great is if your dog has difficulty listening. We are fortunate that ours does very well with verbal commands, so we can leave her off-leash without fear of her running off. A simple call or us being out of her eyesight sends her running back. However, were she not this way, I would definitely have her on a leash to ensure I had full control at all times.

One last hazard I feel gets overlooked is plants. Many plants are deadly to canines, so being able to watch to prevent any ingestion is paramount!

There you have it – a few suggestions to keep Fido’s tail wagging during your next outing!