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The Ultimate Dog Guide for Hiking & Camping with Dogs

Posted by Claudia Bensimoun on

Photo: @kiba.aussie


If you're like us, you probably want to bring your dog with you wherever you go. There's nothing quite like hiking outdoors with your furry best friend and spending a few nights out camping. But before you do so, you'll need to have the right outdoor dog hiking gear to keep you both safe and to ensure that you'll both have the best time out. As avid dog hiking gurus, we've prepared the best Ultimate Dog Guide for Hiking & Camping with Dogs in 2021. 


Table of Contents:

  1. Getting Started: Hiking With Your Dog
    1. Best Dog Breeds For Hiking 
    2. How To Train Your Adventure Dog
    3. Join a Hiking Group
  2. Choosing A Dog-Friendly Hiking Trail
    1. How to find dog-friendly trails
    2. How to prepare for off-leash hikes
    3. Pet-Friendly Camp Sites
  3. Choosing The Right Hiking Gear For Your Dog
    1. The Eight Essentials
    2. Opt For A Dog Backpack 
    3. Pack Enough Food and Water
  4. Preparing For The Hike
    1. Check The Weather
    2. Plan Ahead
    3. Be Prepared For Wildlife Or Emergencies
  5. While On The Trail
    1. Don't forget trail etiquette 
  6. Conclusion


Wolf Republic is a high-quality, preferred outdoor dog hiking and camping product line that runs its own blog. Because we're experts in outdoor dog hiking gear, we've combined a wealth of blogs about hiking and camping out with your furry best friends. 

Just keep in mind that you'll need to start with simple and easy hiking trails until your dog becomes fit and gets the hang of outdoor adventures. Your pup will encounter many different situations when out hiking with you. There may be large groups of people with dogs, large bodies of water, or extreme weather conditions. It's best to opt for dog-friendly campgrounds and hiking trails to keep your dog safe at all times.

At Wolf Republic, we never lose sight of our most important goal. With each pet product that we create, we opt for timeless designs t while never compromising our products' quality and durability. Our stylish dog products for hiking and camping are also functional and never compromise your dog's safety while outdoors. We remain committed to providing the best dog camping and hiking gear so that you can both have fun, whether mountain biking, hiking the trails, sidecar driving, or boating.


Australian Shepherd Hiking with a backpackPhoto: @embark.with.ember


How to Prepare for Your Camping Trip with your dog?

You and your dog will meet up with many new people, dogs, and possibly wild animals. During your hiking and camping trip with your dog, it's best to have your dog fully trained so that he listens to you on recall and with all basic obedience cues. Your dog should also be microchipped and wear a reflective GPS collar for added safety. 


Leash or On-Leash?

There's nothing nicer than hiking off-leash with a well-trained dog. Today, there's plenty of debate around the benefits of both. For many dog hikers, this will depend on the hiking trail terrain and how popular the trail is.

Many hikers may prefer keeping their dogs on a leash if the trail is busy, both for the protection of their pup and of other users. Nonetheless, more experienced hikers have found that on-leash can pose a hazard over rough terrains because it limits dog and person mobility. Look out for your destinations' rules about whether or not your dog should be leashed, and also consider the possibility of wildlife encounters and how well your pup responds to your directions when out on a trail.


Positive Dog Training

Your four-legged best friend must be well-trained before venturing out on a long-distance hike. You can attend positive dog training classes to brush up on training and get your pup attentive to your instructions.

A good bond with your dog is essential to ensure that he understands you during a long hike. You can also participate in agility training or other dog sports to get your dog fit before venturing out on a long hike.

Keep in mind that it makes hiking much easier if your dog understands basic commands like sit, come and stay, regardless of what's going on around him. Your dog should also listen to a whistle or clicker. 


Planning for an Overnight Hiking Trip 

If you're planning one of these fun hiking pet vacays, prepare yourself and your dog by getting plenty of daily exercise leading to the overnight hike. Get your dog accustomed to sleeping in a tent with you at home in your garden before heading out. 


Plan Ahead

We all enjoy fun trips outdoors with our dogs, but before you head out with your dog, you'll need to plan to make sure that you're familiar with campground rules and procedures. Choose your destination and make sure that you understand all the rules and regulations for pups at dog parks, trails, and camping grounds.

Many will not allow unleashed dogs. You should also familiarize yourself with the terrain to ensure that your pup is healthy and fit enough for a long trail. Most importantly, you should know how long your trail is.

You should also reserve your campground site early, most especially during the holidays. Your travel route should be planned ahead of time so that the best roads are taken that ensure lots of potty breaks and short walks.

You should also ensure that your dog is friendly with other pets and people and touch upon obedience training with your trainer if needed. Finally, high-quality dog hiking and camping gear is key to having a safe and fun pet vacay.

Opt for correctly sized collars, harnesses, and backpacks so that your pup is comfortable at all times. If you're like us, we like to bring along spare gear. Bring along a dog pic so that you can identify your dog in case he gets loose. You should never leave your dog alone while camping or hiking in case he escapes, even if he behaves well at all times.


Pet-Friendly Camping Sites

Most campgrounds welcome well-behaved and well-trained dogs, though there are a few that are not pet-friendly. Before heading out on your next adventure with your dog, you should contact the campgrounds individually to ensure that all pet regulations are current and get more detailed information regarding their pet policy.  

Your furry best friend needs to be on a 6-foot leash. Some campgrounds also have barking ordinances, and your dog should not bark excessively at night, or you may be asked to move campgrounds.

Dogs should also be friendly, and aggression is not permitted in most campgrounds. If you feel that your pup may react aggressively toward other people and pets, consider working with a positive dog trainer. After reviewing dog-friendly camping sites in the area that you're interested in visiting, call up the agency if you have questions. 

You should also get a map of the camping site beforehand so that you can determine whether the grounds are extensive enough for your four-legged friend. Before heading out, you should fine-tune your itinerary to match the physical capabilities of both you and your dog.

Many new backpackers and dog hikers think that their dogs are fitter than they are. Be sure that you start getting your dog fit months before and that your vet has done a physical.


Camping Site Laws

Here's the take with the most common dog campground laws you should keep in mind before heading out. The most common National Park rules are as follows:

  • Dogs need to be on a 6-foot leash at all times.
  • Dogs need to be with you at all times and cannot be left unattended in vehicles or campsites.
  • Use doggie bags at all times!
  • Dog food needs to be secured away from wildlife.
  • Dogs generally are not allowed to stray from paved roads or walkways.


How to Prepare?

Your pups rely on you to make intelligent decisions and to be fully prepared. This means having the right dog hiking gear for both hiking and camping. So plan your trip ahead of time, and enjoy hiking with your furry best friend without any mishaps. You'll need to pack all the necessary outdoor dog hiking gear and check as to whether the National Park or camping grounds of your choice is pet-friendly ahead of time. You should also visit your vet for a complete check-up to ensure that your dog is current on all vaccinations and is fit enough to hit the trails with you.


small dog wearing a backpack hiking


Warm Temperatures

Summer weather and outdoor fun go hand in hand, but keep in mind that you should refrain from taking your dog on outdoor hikes when temperatures hit record highs. When it comes to daily exercise during the hot summer months, pets need to exercise even when the temperature warms up. 

You'll need to exercise during the early morning or evening hours to prevent your pups from overheating. Older and obese pets are at a higher risk from high temperatures. Extra caution needs to be taken for short-nosed dogs and dogs with thick fur. Dogs can overheat fast, and you should watch out for the following:

  • Excessive panting
  • Warm skin
  • Vomiting
  • Collapse
  • Rapid heartbeat

If you suspect that your pup may be suffering from heatstroke, you should try to lower your pup's body temperature by applying towels soaked in cool water. You should then visit your vet immediately.


Preparing for Long Distance Hiking with Your Dog

Although long-distance hikes with your dog may feel exhilarating, you'll need to be dedicated to ensuring that all the proper preparation goes into it for a safe and enjoyable walk. Some dog breeds may do better as hiking companions than others. 

A good idea is to explore The American Kennel Club (AKC) and check out their list of the best breeds for outdoor hiking based on their energy levels, genetics, and agility. The AKC adds that the best five breeds for hiking are:

  • Siberian Husky
  • German Shorthaired Pointer
  • Australian Cattle Dog
  • Australian Shepherd
  • Vizsla

Keep in mind that there are plenty of other dog breeds and mixes that do well on outdoor hikes but need to be prepared in terms of stamina and training. You'll also need to take into consideration overall good health and age. Brachycephalic dog breeds like bulldogs and pugs should refrain from long-distance hikes.


Signs of Paw Issues

When out hiking the trails, you'll need to watch for paw injuries or discomfort and lameness. This doesn't always mean lameness, and your pup may favor one leg over the other, lifting the injured paw off the ground periodically. 

If your dog refuses to jump up or down or get off hind legs, this may also indicate a potential paw problem. Also, if he licks his paw excessively, it may signal discomfort or extreme itching and pain. Be sure to check your dog's paws when out hiking, even if he doesn't need hiking boots.


What to Pack?

For many of us, nothing beats hiking and camping out with our dogs. With people paying more attention to their dog's health and regular exercise benefits, finding the best dog hiking backpack and dog hiking gear for your dog is critical. Function, comfort, and durability in all dog hiking gear is most important. To start exploring the best dog hiking gear, a lot depends on your dog!

Dog hiking gear plays an essential role in all outdoor dog activities. The most critical thing to bring along on any hike is water with a collapsible camp bowl and durable dog backpack. If you're planning on a trip over a few days, be sure to pack emergency items like your first aid kit, bear spray, and extra dog food and treats.

The Ranger Packs need to be the right fit and should not be too tight or too loose on your dog. As with all dog hikes, it's essential to maximize your dog's comfort and mobility, all the while ensuring that he can move freely.

If your dog has never worn a backpack, have him wear one around the house, and gradually add some items that you would take along on your hike. This helps your dog become used to the weight. Here's how to get the right backpack fit for your dog:


  • Measure your dog's chest and across the broadest part of his ribcage
  • Choose a dog backpack that has plenty of adjustable straps so that you're able to adjust until the fit is perfect. It should fit snug enough to be comfortable, and your dog should have no problems breathing with the backpack on.
  • IMPORTANT: Backpacks should only weigh 10% of your dog's body weight with weight distributed evenly on both sides.


large dog Australian shepherd wearing a backpack on a hike

Photo: @Phoenixtheaussi


Dog Hiking Trail Safety Tips

Before hitting the trail, you'll need to understand that if you're not well-prepared and don't start up slow, it can be brutal. As with all dog sports and outdoor activities with your dog, you'll need to remain conscious about your dog's health and breathing patterns, most especially if it's during extreme weather conditions. If you're out hiking during warm weather, you should watch for excessive panting, changes in gum color, or sleepiness. If your pup is showing these signs, it's time for a break because your dog is probably overheated. You'll need to find a shady spot and pour some cool water over his paws and body.


Proper Trail Etiquette For Hiking With Your Dog

Not only are you responsible for your actions, dog owners must also consider the actions of their dogs to ensure a positive hiking experience for everyone. Remember to follow these simple rules on the trail:

  1. Leash your dog or keep your dog under strict voice command when around other hikers and animals. Dogs should remain calm to ensure they don't spook hikers or horse back riders.
  2. Give other hikers the right of way. Yield to oncoming hikers and step out of the trail so they may pass without any unwanted interactions with your dog. 
  3. Respect the wildlife and keep your dog leashed for any wildlife encounters. 
  4. Always bag your poop. 


Dog Hiking Sport Injuries

To avoid any injuries to your pup and yourself, consider beginning with short day hikes and wonderfully easy trails. After getting used to these, you can gradually work your way up to build endurance and strength. If you're planning on hiking with a senior dog, consult with your veterinarian for a complete physical to ensure that your senior dog has no health issues. 


Wild Animal Encounters While on a Dog Hiking Trail

We've all wondered as to our reactions during a wild animal encounter. That said, it's important not to panic. At Wolf Republic, we're all passionate about wildlife and wildlife conservation  and firmly believe that if you're hiking in wildlife territory, your dog needs to be on a leash.

If approached, and your dog is barking, you should call your pup to you if he's off-leash and put him on a leash immediately. Try to place distance between the wild animal and your dog to prevent an attack.

Having a well-trained dog is incredibly important in one of these situations because you'll be able to move away with your dog after a recall cue. You can even train your dog not to bark at wild animals. Be prepared for all situations with your dog when outdoors on an adventure hike.


Cell Phone Reception

Your cell phone may not have a signal when you're out hiking. You should always be on the safe side and hike outdoors with friends or family. If out solo, let family and friends know where you are and when you'll be back.


Dog Camping Gear 

Dog camping gear is a bit different from dog hiking gear and entails all the essential equipment that you'll need to spend the night outdoors camping with your four-legged best friend. When out camping, your dog will make new friends, and you'll also bond more closely. Yet, you'll need to keep these factors in mind:


Dog Food & Fresh Water

Because your dog will be outdoors hiking and using up more calories than usual, you'll need to increase your pup's caloric intake just as you would do if you were working out more. Find out more about the water supply at the campgrounds and bring along water accordingly. Some pet parents allow their dogs to drink from freshwater streams and lakes, but it's essential to keep in mind that your pup may come down with an illness like giardiasis. Allow your dog to drink from the same water supply that you have to prevent any stomach upsets.


Ultimate Adventure Dog Packing List for Hiking & Camping

To help you out, we've come up with the best dog hiking gear with all the necessary adventure equipment that you'll need for safety and comfort. In addition to all the hiking and camping gear you need for your pup and yourself, you should consider anything else that your dog needs to make each hiking trip the most memorable out. Here's a list of the most essential hiking gear items that you'll need:


dog camping wearing dog collar made for hikingPhoto: @thenortherndogs


1. Wolf Republic Scout Collar & Leash

The next time you hit the trails, make sure you have one of these and pack your bag with extra water, dog food, treats, poop bags, and your first aid kit. Wolf Republic's Scout Leash can be handheld or worn around the waist. It can easily be tied around a tree or post when needed.  

We like this leash: the military-grade stainless steel cobra buckles and the accessory loop for clipping on accessories. Wolf Republic's Scout Collar is crafted with comfortable nylon webbing complete with military-grade buckles and hardware. This durable dog collar is simple and comfortable and features a side-release buckle for quick and easy use.

dog hiking in sedona with backpack

Photo: @5280coloradodogs 


2. Wolf Republic Ranger Backpack

If you're planning on introducing your dog to a backpack, you'll need to switch over from collar to harness. When your dog gets used to wearing a harness, you can begin by doing a few short hikes with an empty backpack. Gradually start adding a few items inside, but keep in mind that your dog should not carry more than 25% of its weight at the end of the day.

Designed specifically for long, multi-day hikes, the Ranger Pack lets your dog carry his weight. No matter what outdoor activity you enjoy with your pup, he'll need a good dog hiking backpack to carry supplies and food. 

Featuring genuine leather and trail-tough canvas, our Ranger Pack is crafted with a padded handle and designed with a breathable mesh lining for optimal comfort and fit, all the while allowing your pup to keep cool warmer days. Four expandable pockets, two with zippered closures, make for easy storage for food, water, and treats. 

The saddlebag compartments feature two zippered pockets with a magnetic comfortable genuine leather strap and convenient hole to grab pet waste pick-up bags in a flash. With touch leather canvas, it's easy to customize your pack with patches and pins or badges for service dogs. The Wolf Republic Ranger Dog Backpack comes in sizes S-L, so it is the perfect backpack for small dogs and an excellent backpack for large dogs. 

Pair our dog backpack with the Scout Leash for easy adventuring, whether in the great outdoors or navigating more high traffic urban areas. Keep in mind that you should distribute weight evenly between the Ranger Pack's two pouches to keep it balanced. There are also weight carrying limits for dogs, and it's important to note that weight should not exceed over 25% of dog weight. If your dog is a senior pup or has any health issues, it may be best for him to carry less weight. Consult with your veterinarian for the best advice.


dog drinking water from a collapsible dog bowl on a hike

Photo: @vinnythevizsla


3. Lightweight, Collapsible Camp Bowls for Food & Water

When out hiking, you want to be as lightweight as possible. The Wolf Republic Collapsible dog bowl is a collapsible dog bowl that is perfect for feeding or hydrating your dog on the go. It's also compact and lightweight, making it fit easily in pockets for convenient storage. 

Created with a waterproof liner and functional snaps to create a bowl wherever adventure takes you, it takes up minimal space. It's also leak-proof and collapses flat for easy storage. It features a waterproof liner and is stylishly crafted with genuine leather trim.

The camp bowl is perfect for walks, hikes, camping trips, and of course, those wonderful road trips. Read more about the Wolf Republic Collapsible Bowl in our Ultimate Guide to Road Tripping with Dogs blog.


4. Paw Protection

In hot, dry climates, you'll need to add a set of booties to protect your dog's feet from hot and rocky surfaces that can result in paw cracks. Paws need protection from rough terrain, water, hot surfaces, and snow. The Ruffwear Polar Trex dog snow boots allow dogs to have comfort, traction, and warmth while outdoors in wintry conditions. Just as you would protect yourself from cold weather, you need to do the same for your pup. 

Polar Trex snow boots are crafted with an insulated softshell upper for breathable, weatherproof warmth in icy weather. The Ruffwear-designed Vibram® Icetrek™ outsole offers traction on frozen surfaces and is a barrier against cold and snow-melt chemicals. 

Here's the take on these pup boots:

  • Features reflective trim for optimal visibility
  • Crafted from a polyester blend with WR finish (face: 87% polyester, 13% spandex, backing: 100% polyester) (bluesign® approved)
  • Hook and loop closure
  • Outsole: Vibram® Icetrek®
  • Air dry

We like these dog boots because they're also waterproof and windproof. Don't forget to bring along a tub of Musher's Secret Dog Paw Wax formulated with 100% natural food-grade waxes and oils to protect your pup's paws. This recipe was developed especially for sled dogs and also contains vitamins and beeswax to condition cracked paws.


5. Dog Beds

The best backpacking dog bed allows for your pup to sleep comfortably while outdoors hiking. The bed should be light, easy- to- fold and carry, and easy to clean. It should be made from a water repellent fabric and should be fast to dry. 

We like the Dog Bed Sleepy Graphite Outdoor dog bed. Not only is this bed a high-quality dog bed that consists of four individual, circumferential chambers, it's also filled with low-noise and dimensionally stable granulate beads, as well as a separately inlaid, hand-filled mattress, which does not sag even after years, retains its shape. 

The Pendleton™ Glacier Pendleton Pet Bed features three sizes and is crafted from non-pill polar fleece. It's also reversible to a quilted diamond cotton canvas. Dog beds for outdoor hiking trips must be portable, light, water-resistant, and durable. You can also opt for durable ripstop nylon features and compressible options.


5. Snacks

Opt for treats that you can break apart easily as a reward, yet large enough to be seen from far if you need to get his attention quickly. Dog treats are an excellent way to get your pup to pose for wilderness hike pictures. 

Being on a trail all day means that you'll need to bring more food, water, and treats than your dog usually consumes. Healthy treats like Zuke's natural dog treats and chews are crafted in the US and are free of corn, soy, fillers, by-products, and artificial colors and flavors.


6. Pet First Aid Kit

Pet first aid kits are a must-have for every dog hike, even it's a day trip. We recommend the Pet First aid kit that fits neatly into every backpack. This kit is not compact but carries all first aid kit necessities you may need while hiking with your pup. This includes the following: 

  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Bandages
  • Scissors
  • Injury tape
  • An ice pack


7. Coats

Beyond the essentials, you can add the Joey Workwear Coat, an excellent accessory for the pup who loves to stay dry in the great outdoors. Crafted with warm Sherpa lining, the Joey keeps your dog warm and comfortable. Easy to machine wash, the Joey Workwear coat ships in eco-friendly packaging. 

Make sure to pack a Joey for your next outdoor adventure with your dog. The Joey is the perfect outdoor accessory for the cold winter months, available in numerous sizes for all dog breeds, from extra small to XX-large.


8. Dog Shampoo

After a long day's hike, there's nothing better than washing off all of the adventure (we love sticks, just not in our fur) with some Harlow Harry shampoo. From first aid kits to snacks, it never hurts to bring along the perfect dog shampoo by Harlow Harry to keep your pup looking his best. This is a conditioning shampoo free of parabens, sulfate, SLS, formaldehyde, and a vegan brand free of toxins and harmful ingredients.



Final Thoughts

While most dogs enjoy outdoor adventures, it's essential to keep in mind that some dogs may get anxious or aggressive when away from their home environment. There are also certain breeds like huskies and Malamutes that prefer colder weather and don't do well in warmer temperatures. Even if your four-legged best friend seems to do well in all sorts of conditions, you should research his breed to find out more about them. 

You may not know enough about your dog's breed, or if you've recently adopted a new furry best friend, you do not know his past health history and everyday stressors. Even little things like travel or changes in routine may upset some dogs, while triggers for other dogs may include large crowds of dogs and people, wildlife, or even a temperature change. That said, there is no magic formula ensuring that that all goes well, but if you've planned and purchased the right dog hiking gear, it may be helpful and allow for that magical camping trip with your furry best friend.


Questions & Answers


What to Expect at Dog-Friendly Camping Grounds?

There are specific rules and regulations that you'll need to abide by at all pet-friendly camping grounds. There are also many unwritten rules that experienced dog hikers live by, with one of the most critical being bag the poop at all times. Reach out to the camping ground office for more information about pet rules and regulations.


What's the Safest Way of Camping with Your Dog?

The best way is to ensure that you have durable and comfortable dog hiking gear that fits well. Each year you should do some upgrades and get your dog measured and fitted. There is specific waterproof dog hiking gear from Wolf Republic for walking, swimming, hiking, and camping out with your dog.


Can Dogs Sleep in Tents with People?

Yes, you should start by getting your dog accustomed to sleeping in a tent with you at home in your garden. To make the transition smooth, you should do this a few times before adventuring out on a camping trip with your dog.

You should always zip and close your tent when sleeping out in the wilderness to prevent wild animals and bugs from entering your tent while you sleep. To help your dog relax, you can use a battery-operated fan to help calm him. You'll also need to consider weather conditions before deciding on tent use while outdoors on a pet vacay.


Where Are the Best Places to Go Hiking with My Dog?

Most campgrounds, National parks, and State Parks will list their pet policy online. You can also call up campgrounds to triple-check on breed requirements. Remember that regardless of where you stay with your dog, you'll need to abide by local and campground regulations.

If you're considering hiking out in extreme temperatures, opt for cabin rentals or other pet-friendly lodging accommodations. If you're planning a long-distance hike over a few days, you should call up ahead of time to triple-check accommodation reservations. Safety and comfort are critical to an enjoyable hiking experience with your four-legged best friend.


How Can I Prepare My Dog for Long Distance Car Travel?

For most dogs, car trips are fun, and they're used to exciting trips to the dog beach or dog park. For dogs that are new to car travel, you should get your dog accustomed to riding in the car over a period of time by taking short car rides. Before heading out on a long car trip, you should bring along your dog's favorite toys, blanket and water, and food bowls. If your pup gets restless, it's time to pull over for a short walk and potty break.


Can I Bring Multiple Dogs Camping?

It's always a great idea to bring along a few friends with dogs or someone else to lend a hand if you're bringing a few dogs camping. Reach out to your campgrounds to make sure that there are no pet policy limits. Pet policies, regulations, rules, and dog camping amenities will vary throughout the US. Be sure to contact specific locations to ensure your booking and to get the latest information.


What Are the Most Important Dog Camping Items to Bring Along in 2021?

To keep your dog comfortable and safe throughout the camping trip, you should triple-check your packing list before heading out. Here's the take with what to pack for pet-friendly camping:


  • Dehydrated dog treats and food for your pup. (Calculate carefully depending on the length of the trip) Add in an extra day or two in case of a mishap.
  • 2 x Wolf Republic Collapsible bowls for food and water
  • Leash, harness, and collar
  • Eco-friendly doggie poop bags
  • A few doggie bandanas
  • Paw palm and booties
  • Wolf Republic dog hiking backpack (triple check measurements and never overload the backpack)
  • Tent & bedding
  • Eye goggles for eye protection
  • Bear spray
  • First aid pet and human kit
  • Bear spray
  • Sunscreen & insect repellant