Taking my Chocolate Lab Mya into the back country camping was one of those things I never thought was going to be an option for us. Mya came to us at 18 months of age, she had already gone thru three homes and had so much energy she would run herself to complete exhaustion. I quickly nicknamed her Crazy Brown Dog!
Here are the three things that needed to happen if back country camping was ever going to be in the cards for us.
Mya is now four years old and has matured enough that the reality of taking her with me was a real possibility. A car camping trip that included tent camping and the use of back country gear was step one. She would have to learn to stay in camp even with other people and dogs roaming the campground, sleep in the tent and have it still standing in the morning, be respectful of camp space. It was a success!
2.Leash manners & Recall
While on the trail your dog should be on leash (Mya is not a fan she would rather be running giant circles). This is extremely important in keeping you and your dog safe. Recall is just as important during off leash time. These two things take some training and practice to master which we are continually working on.
If you are staying in a campground with multiple different groups your dog should be comfortable with being tied up for their safety. Not everyone likes dogs.
Your dog should be able to carry his/her own basic gear. Food, bowl, toy, bed and a first aid kit designed for dogs (I just add in dog specific items to my first aid kit). Mya has her own pack and carries her own gear. I make sure that it is not more than 25% of her weight, which for Mya is 20lbs. Introduction to the pack before the big trip is important even if the trip is only a day hike.Start off with no weight in the pack and build up slowly so that they can carry the weight comfortably. This should be a positive experience and not all dogs will take to a pack right away. Her bowl was collapsible so not take up much space and we brought her Kong along which gave her an energy outlet.
If you would like to hear about our trip I have the details of the trip to Whirlpool here