Summer has officially begun and as it’s been a scorcher already (be thankful you aren’t covered in fur like me…) it’s time to get into the high country…with your dog. Backpacking with canines can be one of life’s greatest pleasures, particularly if you properly plan for it. I can help you with that…

 I recommend starting with strength and endurance training, with shorter hikes building to longer ones (and this includes you and your pup wearing your packs for training too) as well as acclimating your dog to stream crossings and whatever else he’s likely to encounter while learning to read your dog’s comfort levels (e.g. if he’s lagging or panting excessively he is struggling…).

You may want to reach out to Second Chance about training your dog for preparing for various situations on the trail, such as greeting people and other dogs politely, coming reliably when called in the face of wildlife, like skunks or running deer. Using leashes when hiking and tethers in camp can also be helpful when it comes to having a problem-free trip.

If you are planning on having your dog “carry his weight” on the trip know that a dog can carry 15-30% of his body weight, depending on fitness, age, and health. You want your dog’s pack to be well-fitted where you can fit two fingers between the straps and keep both sides weighted equally. A good rule of paw is to pack up to 50% more dog food than would be normal for him to eat.

Other items on your packing list should include a fold up bowl, leash (preferably that attaches to your pack); tethers for camp; canine first aid kit, including a tic removal tool (and know-how); a light to clip on your dog’s collar for evening so you can always locate him; and a dog coat if needed.

Not everyone wants to meet your dog on the trail so always be respectful. It’s not a bad idea to have your dog walk behind you when encountering places on the trail that you cannot see what is ahead. Move your dog off the trail for hikers, horses, and bikers and leash your dog if you are not 100% positive how he will respond to others on the trail.

Make sure you do your homework and know the rules, including leash and permit laws on the trails you choose to take. But most of all just enjoy the added fun, comradery, and safety that dogs brings to any outdoor adventure. And if it’s hot, cold, or raining, your dog will feel it just like you, so take it easy in hotter weather; hike mornings and evenings.

Don’t have a furry friend to travel with? I got you covered as I happen to be looking for an active and fun family to adopt. I am an 11 month old cattle dog mix full of energy, personality, and love. I have mastered some basic training, potty outside only, am crate trained and walk well on leash. I do well with kids but prefer a home free of other dogs who would compete for your love and attention.

Let’s make some happy trails together! Call the Shelter today to set an appointment to meet me, Buck the Buckaroo.

Second Chance Humane Society’s Animal Resource Center and Thrift Shops have been servicing San Miguel, Ouray & Montrose Counties for 27 years. Call 626-2273 to report a lost pet, learn about adopting a homeless pet, or about our Emergency Response, Community Medical, Spay/Neuter, Volunteer, or other services. View our shelter pets and services online: