Otherwise, taking a dog hiking for the first time is a lot like taking a person hiking for the first time. Remember two things: One, they too need to get in shape for hiking. And two: They didn't ask to go. So be watchful for the dog's wellbeing. Start with short hikes, and work up to a few miles so that your dog's footpads have a chance to toughen up. Parasites can be a problemticks in particularso treat your dog with a full-body tick and flea killer such as Advantage.
On the trail, make sure your furry pal has plenty of water and is not overheating. The latter can pose a particular risk. If your dog is panting excessively, take some time in the shade and offer her a cool drink. And when I've hiked with dogs I've always packed extra treats for them; they're burning calories too, of course.
Dog packs are fine, and most dogs can lug about one-quarter of their body weight. That may not be a lot, so in some cases it might be easier for everyone if you just carry their food. But there are some very well made doggie packs out there these days. Ruff Wear's Approach Pack ($62 to $70, depending on size) would be a good option for shorter trips. Make sure to get a good-fitting pack and start with light loads. Watch for any sign of chafing from the pack. Check the dog's feet on a regular basis, toosharp rocks can cut footpads. In some cases a doggie boot may be necessary. Dog Gear Cool Paws ($24 for four) even have a built-in cooling pad that activates when you add water.
As for the inside of the tent, it might be useful to take a lightweight tarp to lay over the floor of the tent for a little extra protection. But tent floors typically are pretty tough, and I doubt that most dogs could do much damage to them.
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