7 Tips For Backcountry Hiking With A Dog, From A Dog Trainer

By: Robert Thomas

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October 28, 2022 | Pro Tips

There’s nothing like going into the great outdoors with your furry companion, and backcountry hiking is the best way to do it!

Backcountry hiking can be an amazing bonding experience between you and your dog. Not to mention an amazing way to get some fresh air and much-needed relaxing calm.

However, there are some important tips to know before going backcountry hiking with your pup.

If you’ve never been backcountry hiking before and are thinking about going on this amazing journey with your dog, keep reading to learn some amazing tips from dog trainer, Robert Thomas from Marvelous Dogs.

black dog hiking with pet owner at a trail


What is Backcountry Hiking?

Regular or front-country hiking is usually done on developed trails near roads, running water sources, and bathrooms or outhouses.

However, backcountry hiking is where you really get primal.

Unlike front country hiking, backcountry hiking is done in remote, less-developed terrain. It quite literally pushes you into the middle of nature.

light haired dog hiking on a park trail in the woods

Should You Do Backcountry Hiking With Your Dog?

Now, you can take your dog of any size or breed backcountry hiking with you. As a matter of fact, canine companions make some of the best individuals to travel the great outdoors with.

Even though most have reserved this activity for the bigger dogs, breeds such as the Jack Terrier Russel, Beagle, and Pembroke Welsh Corgi love a good hike.

In fact, hiking can be a journey that can provide you and your dog with:

  • Endless bonding experiences
  • A trip out of the house into the fresh air
  • A chance to build endurance and physicality
  • A cure from mindless boredom

Although this experience can be exciting and fun for you and your dog, you must take extra care to keep your furry companion safe and under wraps on this adventure.

After all, anything can happen in the backcountry.

To help manage your trip better and keep your furry companion safe, below are seven tips to know before going out into the backcountry with your dog.



1. Train, Train, Train!

2. Find Dog-Friendly Areas to Hike

3. Pack All the Essentials

4. Have a Sleep Plan For Your Dog

5. Prepare For Cold or Temperamental Weather

6. Feed Your Dog and Give Them Water

7. Leave No Trace


#1. Train, Train, Train!

Hiking in any terrain can be a hassle for individuals who aren’t used to walking or running for long distances.

It’s irresponsible to throw you and your dog into the wilderness if you can’t handle the physical and mental requirements.

Therefore, for breeds of all shapes and sizes, it’s important that you first train before going into the great outdoors.

As you take your dogs on walks, slowly increase how many miles you do on your daily walking to build up your endurance.

You should also practice your core commands (sit, come, stay, drop it, etc.) with your pup to ensure they will listen to you while you’re on your journey.

Lastly, ensure your dog gets comfortable around wildlife and won’t chase them when they inevitably cross paths. This could be bad news.

hiking with your dog in the backcountry

#2. Find Dog-Friendly Areas to Hike

Once you know you and your dog are ready to handle the physical and mental requirements needed for a hiking trip, you’ll need to look up dog-friendly areas to take your dog hiking.

Not all parks and areas allow dogs on the premises, and it would be a bummer to get to a nice place only to be turned away because they don’t allow dogs.

It’s recommended to call or look at the location’s website before heading there to see if your dog is allowed.

packing for a backcountry hike

#3. Pack All the Essentials

There’s a list of things you need to bring on a backcountry hiking trip.

  • Food/treats
  • Water/water filters
  • Tents/tarps
  • Sleeping bags
  • Jackets or coats (if needed)
  • Poop bags (biodegradable ones preferably)
  • Backpacks for you and your dog to carry everything
  • First-aid kits
  • Info on nearby hospitals/vets
  • Dog boots or something to put on your dog’s paws to protect them
  • Dog toys
  • Bear spray

Remember, in the backcountry, you have the possibility of running into some pretty dangerous animals depending on the area, so bring some bear spray and similar items for protection!

camping with your dog in a camping tent

#4. Have a Sleep Plan For Your Dog

Most people camp when backcountry hiking, so it’s important to ensure you have a plan for how you and your dog will get them nice z’s in.

You shouldn’t let your dog sleep outside alone when camping in the wild since you never know what predators might be out there.

Therefore, you should get a tent that you know will be big enough for you and your dog. You should also invest in getting your dog his own sleeping bag to keep him comfortable and warm.

Chihuahua wearing a red shirt on a walk with dog walker

#5. Prepare For Cold or Temperamental Weather

You will be placed into the hands of the elements when traveling in the great outdoors, and a lot of the time, it won’t just be flowers and sunshine while you’re out there.

You have to check the daily forecasts when hiking and camping to ensure you and your dog don’t get caught in nasty weather while underprepared.

Therefore, investing in a good jacket or coat will be essential to keeping them warm and mostly dry.

There are many options out there on the market to consider for all sizes and breeds.

dog drinking water during hike

#6. Feed Your Dog and Give Them Water

One of the only ways you and your dog can make it through a hiking trip is by ensuring you have all the nutrition and water required to make it through the day.

Therefore it’s important that you eat before you leave for your trip and during it.

It’s essential to bring food, water, water filters, snacks and treats on your trip to keep you and your dog full and ready to make it through the trip.

campfire with green tents across from it

#7. Leave No Trace

There’s a secret rule amongst hikers that’s common knowledge. This rule is to leave no trace.

The only thing you want to leave in nature denoting your presence there is your footprints. Besides that, you should leave everything else in nature the way you found it.

  • Always pick up your dog’s poop
  • Pick up any trash you’ve used along the way
  • Put out any fires you may have started while camping
  • Attempt not to disturb the local wildfire if possible

These are good ways to leave no trace when going outdoors on your exciting hiking adventure.

Husky is trekking in the snow playfully outside


Backcountry hiking can be an amazing bonding experience between you and your dogs in the great outdoors.

It’s a journey that will throw you into the middle of nature, which can seem scary at first unless proper steps have been incorporated to make the trip the best it can be.

However, these seven steps will hopefully give you some insight into the proper steps to be undertaken before venturing out onto your journey.

If you’re finally ready to take nature head-on, go out there and see what adventure you’ll get into while backcountry hiking with your dog.

dog biting on black dog leash during walk