[Cdt-l] Hiking with a dog

Marshall Karon m.karon at comcast.net
Tue Jan 6 23:12:26 CST 2009

Jonathan's comments are very good ones. The same question has been posed on
the PCT-L with the same comments.

I will only add this: the hike is yours and not your dogs. It will follow
you out of love - and could suffer very badly from it. Your dog will need to
train the same as you. You will need to carry food and water for it (there
is a limit to what it can carry in a pack). Perhaps you could have the dog
with you for short sections where there is water, coolness, and the terrain
isn't too bad. I don't know what the National Parks allow (Glacier and
Yellowstone), but normally, dogs aren't allowed. Most dogs really do not
have the stamina to hike 8-10 hours a day like you will. I love dogs, but I
really wouldn't take one on a thru-hike - especially a new one.


Marshall Karon 
Portland, OR 


-----Original Message-----
From: cdt-l-bounces at backcountry.net [mailto:cdt-l-bounces at backcountry.net]
On Behalf Of Jonathan Ley
Sent: Tuesday, January 06, 2009 8:34 PM
To: cdt-l at backcountry.net
Subject: Re: [Cdt-l] Hiking with a dog


This subject has been discussed previously on the cdt-l (mostly wrt/
long-distance hiking... which is what my comments are geared toward...
shorter hikes, and non-CDT locations have different considerations). It
might be worthwhile to search the archives. 

One thing I've learned is that neither all dogs nor all dog owners are
created the same. I've met dogs on long hikes that appeared to be thoroughly
enjoying the experience, and others that were clearly not. I've met loads of
very responsible owners and well-trained dogs, a few irresponsible owners
and untrained dogs, a mix of the two, and a broad spectrum of everything
in-between. A smaller dog is going to have a very different set of issues
and impacts than a larger dog. A hike through the desert is going to be
quite different than a hike in the snowy mountains. 

My suggestion would be to know yourself, know your dog - be honest with
yourself as to whether it's a good idea, and have a backup plan that works
in the dog's favor. If the hike is not going well for the dog, are you
prepared to stop and go home? Can you send the dog home to a good situation
(i.e to your spouse, etc.)? Are you familiar with reading the dog's signs
and being able to anticipate a problem (like sore pads or dehydration, etc)
so that you're not stuck a day's hike from anywhere with a dog that can't

Please also be aware that a dog has a different impact on the land than
people do. Dogs are predators. and even if they're well behaved and don't
chase anything, they can stress the wildlife they do encounter. (They can
also stress livestock, which might not win you favors with some ranchers.)
Do they create more stress than the large population of coyotes along the
CDT? Or the population of humans? Possibly not. But it's something to

Hitching and staying in towns can also be more of a challenge if you have a
dog too. And you're likely to encounter people who will give you a hard time
for bringing along your pooch. either because they feel it violates a LNT
ethic, or is bad for the dog, or they just don't like dogs, or whatever.
It's just something you'll likely have to deal with. Then again, a dog can
win you friends too. 

I'd be careful about making assumptions that all non-dog or dogged-hikers
feel the same, or that people hiking with dogs do it for the same
motivations. For the most part, I think hikers with dogs love their dogs
dearly, and bring them out of that love, not fear. they want to share the
experience with their trusted pal, and get more out of the experience
because of the canine company.  

As for getting a dog specifically for the purpose of hiking a trail like the
CDT. It'd be hard to recommend that approach. Despite carefully selecting a
breed, or a shelter dog, it'll be difficult to know if any particular dog is
well-suited to a long hike. The only way you'll be able to learn is if you
have the dog for a while, and are able to do shorter hikers with it. There
could be any number of reasons that an individual dog won't have the
temperament, stamina, smarts, or health to manage a thru-hike. If it doesn't
work out, it'll still be your dog for life. 

FWIW, most of the "successful" hiking dogs I've met were mutts about
mid-sized (knee-height) with medium-length hair... and most importantly with
committed owners who invested a serious effort in training them to obey
commands (most importantly, to heel). 

Best of luck to you,


----- Original Message ----- 

From: dan kayser <mailto:yoyodadio at msn.com>  

To: cdt-l at backcountry.net 

Sent: Tuesday, January 06, 2009 7:29 AM

Subject: [Cdt-l] Hiking with a dog


I haven't heard a lot about hiking with dogs.  I am thinking of getting a
dog and would like to be able to take it on hiking trips.   I would like to
hear from those that have hiked (short & long distances) with their dog.
What are the pros and cons?  How did you train and/or acclimate your dog to
hiking?  Is there a certain breed or type of dog that is better suited for
hiking?  Any input (good or bad ) would be greatly appreciated.


Dan (Molasses)


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re_122008> R account now. 


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