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Can You Take Your Dog Backpacking or Hiking?

As every dog owner knows, being active with your companion isn’t always easy. However, there are many activities to keep you both fit, healthy, and happy. Outdoors lovers have probably already considered taking their dog on backpacking or hiking trips. That’s an awesome idea, right? Who won’t like to spend a good time with his buddy in the wilderness?

Dog Backpacking Hiking

I recently started to inform myself about backpacking and hiking with dogs. I love the outdoors, so why not bring my Labrador with me on my next hike or backpack trip? Like any other sport, this type of activity takes a lot of preparation and some gear to enjoy it safely. Before going out into the wilds, my first question was: Can I take my dog backpacking or hiking?

Yes, most healthy and active dogs are well-suited to go backpacking or hiking with you. However, some exceptions with health or physical restrictions won’t be able to hike. Besides, there are rules to respect on backpacking trails with your dog. Many national, state or local parks will allow dogs, but it’s not always safe to take yours!

Before hiking with your dog, there are many things to be aware of. The most important preparation step is to make sure it’s safe to take your dog backpacking. Normally, every healthy dog in good shape shouldn’t have problems with outdoor sports. Nonetheless, some furry friends won’t be suitable to enjoy hiking trips safely. At the end of your reading, you will know if you can take your dog backpacking or not!

Know Your Dog’s Exercise Needs!

Before starting any kind of physical activity, you should know your dog’s exercise requirements. Many dog owners don’t provide proper playtime to their companions, and it can have bad repercussions. For example, pets with a lack of physical or mental stimulation could become destructive. You shouldn’t neglect your dog’s needs for both of your happiness!

How Much Exercise Does Your Dog Need?

It will depend on many elements such as his breed, age, energy level, personality, etc. In general, most dogs need around 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Some active buddies such as Dalmatians, Labradors or Collies can require up to 2 hours of daily exercise. A few low-energy breeds like Bulldogs or Saint-Bernards could need around 20 to 40 minutes of playtime per day. Therefore, you should take the time to understand your dog’s exercise requirements!

Dog Playing Off-Leash

Don’t Neglect Your Dog’s Physical Activity Requirements!

Many canine owners don’t give enough exercise time to their buddies. It can easily cause boredom or several health problems that could lead to injuries, behavioral issues, etc. However, some active owners could push their pooches’ limits with too much or too intense physical activity. Whether you give too much or not enough exercise to your companion, it can be bad and dangerous for him!

Can You Take Your Dog Backpacking or Hiking?

Many outdoor lovers would love to take their dogs with them on their trips. However, that’s not always safe for their furry companions. Like humans, dogs have limits and conditions that restrict them to enjoy specific physical activities safely. The only difference is that pets can’t tell their restrictions to you directly, and they probably wouldn’t do it even if they could. Dogs love their owners so much that they will continue enjoying an activity even if they suffer from it!

Dog Backpacking Hiking In Rocks

What that said, you can now understand why you need to be very careful. If your dog can’t take care of his safety, it’s your responsibility to do so. Backpacking isn’t the most dangerous canine sport, but it’s not 100% safe. Hiking a long trail with a small dog backpack isn’t innate for your companion. Furthermore, some fragile dog types will be more prone to injuries or problems than others. Let’s see if all dogs are suitable for backpacking or hiking trips!

Can All Dogs Do Hiking or Backpacking?

Unfortunately, not every dog can head into the wilds safely. Like any other sport, there are some minimal requirements to be suitable for backpacking trips. Your companion doesn’t need to be one of the most athletic animals to hike. However, some physical, health or other conditions could restrict your dog from backpacking safely!

Many Dogs Backpacking Hiking

There are many elements to look at before starting new dog sports. For example, it won’t be safe to bring your puppy Bulldog on a 5-miles hike. By the way, it won’t be smart to start with such a long distance with any unexperimented dog. Keep in mind that preparation is the key to enjoy any activity without any problem. Therefore, you will need to analyze some elements before to enjoy outdoor activities safely!

What Makes Your Dog Suitable To Go On Backpacking Trips?

Now, you probably wonder if your dog is suitable to go on hikes. Don’t worry, most healthy companions won’t have any restrictions for canine sports such as backpacking. Nevertheless, it’s always safer to analyze your dog’s conditions before changing anything to his exercise routine. Let’s see what elements you should look at to determine if you can take your dog backpacking!


Many people will think that the breed will be the most important factor. However, your dog’s type can fool you very easily. Even if Australian Shepherds would be better hikers than Dachshunds, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy backpacking with small breeds!

Therefore, you should be careful to not stereotype your companion because of his breed. Every dog is unique and has different needs. That’s why you need to assure you that the other elements are OK to hike. Don’t assume you can take your dog backpacking or not, analyze it!


This is what most dog owners should be caring about. Before going on outdoor expeditions, you should visit your vet. That’s probably the best way to know if your dog is suitable for backpacking or hiking. Moreover, you have more specific and personalized answers and tips from a professional. There’s no good reason to not see your veterinarian before trying new canine activities!


Puppies aren’t suitable for intense sports because they are too fragile. You need to wait until their bones stop growing before to take your pup backpacking. Over-exercise your companion when he’s not fully developed could cause him serious pain or injuries. You shouldn’t bring your puppy on hikes before he’s around 1 year old. He could be ready to enjoy backpacking a little bit sooner if he’s small or longer if he’s larger!

Young Puppy Run And Hike

For senior dogs, you should also be very careful. With age, your companion will become more fragile and less active. Nonetheless, your dog won’t refuse to go on a backpacking trip even if it’s painful for him. Therefore, you should be very careful when your dog is around 7 or 8 years old to not do too intense or long hikes!

Good Shape.

You shouldn’t start exercising your dog with sports such as hiking. To take your dog backpacking he should be able to walk relatively long distances around 2 or 3 miles (3.2 or 5 km) rather easily. That’s why you need to provide proper exercise before considering more advanced physical activities. Besides, make sure to not overestimate your companion’s hiking abilities. Take everything into consideration to enjoy the outdoors safely!

Most Dogs Are OK With Hiking!

Preparing Dog Backpacking Hiking

Don’t forget that you can always adapt your backpacking trips to your dog conditions. You’re not obligated to go on 10 miles (16 km) hikes to enjoy that sport. Furthermore, you should always start with short distances and slow pace whatever your dog’s conditions are. Building up stamina, strength, and resilience takes a lot of time and training. You can also simply go out and try beginners hiking trails to analyze your dog’s suitability to do backpacking!

Best Dog Breeds To Enjoy Backpacking!

Even if the breed isn’t the most important, it certainly has an influence. Some companions are naturally more active and suitable for hiking. After some research, I rapidly found some of the best dogs to take with you on backpacking trips. It could help you understand what general traits make good furry hikers!

Dog Backpacking In Mountains
  • Australian Shepherds.
  • Australian Cattle Dogs.
  • Bernese Mountain Dogs.
  • Border Collies.
  • German Shorthaired Pointers.
  • Labrador Retrievers.
  • Portuguese Water Dogs.
  • Rhodesian Ridgebacks.
  • Siberian Huskies.
  • Alaskan Malamutes.
  • Vizslas
  • Weimaraners.
  • Etc.

Be Careful With These Dogs Before To Take Them Backpacking!

As I already share with you, outdoor activities aren’t for every dog. Nonetheless, I didn’t explain to you why some specific dog types shouldn’t go on hikes. It’s not only important to understand that not all dogs can go on backpacking trips. You should also know which types of furry companions won’t be able to go on hiking trails safely!

Brachycephalic (or Short-Muzzled) Dogs.

Brachycephalic Breeds: Pugs, Bulldogs, Boxers, Boston Terriers, Chihuahuas, Chow Chows, Shih Tzus, Pekingese Dogs, Bull Mastiffs, etc.

Most of these companions won’t be able to keep up with you while hiking. Their small noses simply restrict them to breath and regulate their temperature well. Therefore, that’s not the ideal conditions to enjoy backpacking safely. Maybe you should consider lower intensity canine activities for your short-nosed companion. Otherwise, you could train him for short-distance and slow pace hiking trips!

Overweight Companions.

It could seem like an excellent idea to get your dog in shape with hiking. However, obese companions shouldn’t do too intense activities. With their extra pounds (or kg) they are more likely to hurt themselves walking long distances in the wild. Besides, they might not be able to keep up with your pace. That’s why backpacking is more interesting for more healthy and active dogs!

Dog Hiking Long Distance

Dogs With Structural Issues.

Don’t bring your furry partner on hikes if he has any kind of structural or joint problems. Whether it’s a hip/elbow dysplasia, arthritis or other joint issues, backpacking isn’t the right sport for him. Canine activities such as running, bikejoring or hiking have a high impact on your buddy’s structure. That’s why you should look for a less vigorous sport like swimming or walking!

Not Well-Trained Buddies.

Before going on hikes, your dog needs to be well trained. If you don’t have control of your companion, obedience training is probably more essential than outdoor activities. Dogs that can’t follow your commands are dangerous for themselves, their owners, other backpackers, wild animals, etc. Make sure you train your dog properly before starting advanced dog sports!

Here are some other tips from AKC to hike with dogs and a video about backpacking with your dog!

Benefits of Taking Your Dog Backpacking!

Hiking with your dog is good to improve both your health, fitness, and happiness. If your companion is suitable to enjoy intense outdoor activities, don’t hesitate one more second and plan an outdoor trip. It could become an awesome activity to enjoy on weekends with your furry friend. Therefore, here are some of the advantages to take your dog backpacking!

Dog Backpacking And Hiking
  • No More Boredom!
  • Great Source of Exercise!
  • Build Stamina!
  • Motivation To Enjoy The Outdoors!
  • Inexpensive Dog Activity!
  • Strengthen Your Bond!
  • Mental Stimulation And Benefits!
  • Etc.
  • Find More Advantages On Backpacker!

Other Outdoors Activities For Dogs Than Backpacking!

Even if you can take your dog backpacking, there are other fun things to do with him outside. Trying plenty of sports with your companion is ideal to be more active and spend quality time with him. For outdoor lovers, there are plenty of things to enjoy the natural beauty of our world. Here are some fun activities to go out with your buddy!

Dog Camping And Backpacking
  • Camping.
  • Running.
  • Biking.
  • Visit Dog Parks.
  • Fetch or Frisbee.
  • Swimming.
  • Go To The Beach.
  • Canoeing or Kayaking.
  • Etc.

Last Thoughts About Taking Your Dog Backpacking!

Knowing if your dog is suitable to hike isn’t the only thing to know before backpacking with him. Make sure to have the right gear, follow the rules and respect your dog’s limits. The most important thing above all during outdoor canine activities is to have fun. If you have anything to remember from this article, please keep in mind to always enjoy your hikes!

Dog Backpack Hiking

Assure you to find the right trail for both of your conditions and capacity. Furthermore, every trail can have different rules to respect. So, inform you carefully before taking your dog backpacking with you. I hope this blog post helps you confirm that your pooch can enjoy intense activities safely. I wish to have the opportunity to meet you on dog-friendly backpacking trails while hiking with my Labrador!