Buck the Buckaroo, an 11-month-old cattle dog mix at Second Chance Humane Society, is ready to go hiking this summer. (Courtesy photo)

Summer has officially begun and it’s been a scorcher already (be thankful you aren’t covered in fur like me). It’s also 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 they’re likely to encounter while learning to read your dog’s comfort levels (hint: 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 percent 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 percent more dog food than would be normal for them 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 percent positive how they 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 bring 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 that 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 and Montrose counties for 27 years. Call 970-626-2273 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 at adoptmountainpets.org.