How My Dog Survived a Thru-Hike With Me: Keeping Them Healthy

I dashed down the trail trying to beat the setting sun.  My dog, No Shame was 20 feet ahead of me excited about the sudden increase in pace.  The switchbacks on the Virginia mountain gave us a clear view of the trail ahead, or so I thought.  The light was almost gone, everything surrounding the trail was in shadow and shadows hide a lot.  The explosion of movement 40 feet ahead of me had me screeching to a halt and calling No Shame back to me, I feared she would be enticed into the darkness.  I crept forward slowly expecting to see the flash of white as the deer bounded off into the distance.  My already rapid heart rate soared as my eyes adjusted and the silhouette of a bear standing on her hind legs burned itself into my brain, two mini shadows stood by her side.  I stood there frozen for a moment, heart racing, hand on my dog whispering sweet words to her as I slowly clipped her leash on.  I watched mama bear closely as I took the corner of the next switchback and watched as she settled down onto all fours and directed her little ones downhill, the same direction I was headed.


Sometime No Shame took over and tried to work some magic

I have spoken with so many people about my experience on the AT with a dog and I decided it was time to create a single spot for folks to get the information.  This is how I did my hike, this is what worked for me and my dog.

A bit about my little lady, No Shame:

  • She is a mixed breed rescue, best guess is husky and australian shepherd. No matter what the mix she is a working dog and is happiest when busy.
  • She celebrated her 5th birthday while we were on trail, young enough to have energy, old enough to have manners.
  • Her normal weight off trail is 35 pounds.
  • She started trail weighing 38 lbs, she finished trail weighing 38 pounds.
  • She started training to carry a pack at a year old and hit the mountains shortly there after.  Having this much experience created a great foundation for the endeavor ahead of us.
Mt. Chocorua Photo Bomb

Mount Chocorua – training for the trail

Here is the basic breakdown of what we took on trail:

Dog gear:

The moment you decide to take your dog with you, the hike is no longer yours but instead it is completely hijacked by the pooch.  Be ready for this reality.

Things to Consider


It is important to be sure your pup has been conditioned, they will face the same challenges as you.  It is highly unlikely that you are starting a 2,000+ mile hike without preparing for it, and if you are that is your choice to do so.  Your dog is joining you because you decided they should, respect them by getting them ready.  Start out by having them hike with an empty pack or none, let their body adjust to the physical activity before you add weight to them.  Slowly start adding weight and increasing the distance.  There is no way to prepare for the epic reality of this hike except to get out there and do it.  Pay attention to your dog and how they are feeling changes happen gradually.


Nutrition is a challenge on trail and one of the most important things for your pup.  Before you hit the trail you’ll want to decide if you’re going to keep them on a consistent diet or if you want to go with what you can find on trail.

I kept No Shame on the same kibble she’d been on for the past 4 years but I added The Honest Kitchen (THK) to it as a topper.  This allowed me to increase her nutrition level without a large difference in weight or bulk.  I discovered that how I fed her made ALL the difference.  Breakfasts were just a little something to tide her over, a 1/2 cup of kibble.  Her dinner was where the real bulk of her meals came from, it was 1 1/2 cups of kibble and 1/3 cup of The Honest Kitchen which I re-hydrated and mixed the kibble into.  PLEASE if you don’t read any further or follow any other links I get it but READ THIS ONE!!!  This is an article I wrote providing detail to how I fed my dog.  Easier to send you right to the source then try to rewrite it.


She could never get her face far enough into her bowl

Pack Weight and Fit

Pack weight is a debated issue.  It is common to see 25% of their body weight listed as an appropriate pack weight, I feel this is too much for a dog to carry for any extended period of time.  I decided to go with a max of 15% of my dogs weight.  She carried 5 pounds and just like me her pack weight went down as she ate her food.  I didn’t require her to carry anything other than her food and bowl.  By limiting her pack to food only it meant I could balance it by making sure she had the same number of meals in each saddle bag.  This also reduced the awkwardness of having a sleeping pad or other bulky items attached to her pack.  It is SO important to make sure their pack is properly fit for them.  You want a pack which does not shift on their body but is loose enough to allow their rib cage to expand as they breath.  Watch for chaffing!!!  Be ready to support your pup if needed.  I carried my ladies pack when the days were hot, she seemed to be struggling, or if we hit terrain that made me nervous.

No Shame wore a Groundbird Gear pack.  This pack system was custom fit to her.  I picked roll top saddle bags which allowed me to roll them down tighter as we emptied them.  The removable saddle bags made it easy to fit her harness before adding weight or allowed me to leave them off for the day while still providing me with a system to clip into.  I made sure the saddle bags could hold 5 days worth of food and no more.  She was able to maneuver almost any terrain in it, she did log ladders, rock scrambles, and river crossings but sadly never got the hang of narrow trails and would occasionally get stuck between rocks.

No Shame showing off four days worth of food on Hump Mountain TN


There is no magical equation which provides the answer to how many miles to hike each day.  It will be a process as you will figure out as you go and which will change day by day, week to week.
Figuring out our mileage happened as we hiked.  I kept the mileage low to start, not for No Shame but for me.  As both our bodies adjusted it was easier to increase the mileage.  When we were closer to town and her pack was lighter she was able to pull bigger miles.  As the weather warmed up I had to pay closer attention to breaks, water, and mileage.  When we took breaks the first thing I did was remove her pack, this allowed her body to cool off and for her to find a cold patch of ground.  During the hottest days our mileage dropped by a third.  If we were normally doing 18 miles a day we were lucky to make it 11 or 12 miles.  Our average was 14 miles a day with our biggest day being a slack pack day at 24 miles.  These distances are only true for me as she typically double or tripled what I did in a day while running back and forth on trail.

Package Drops

Having food or supplies mailed will create a more structured hike and in some ways a more expensive one.  If you have packages shipped to a Post Office you’re able to bounce them further along trail, at no additional cost, if you don’t need them.  Sending packages to hostels or hotels means the only way to move them forward is to pay to get them to a new location.

I decided early on that I was going to feed her well even if it meant my hike became more orchestrated.  My trip was planned around going into town every 5 days to resupply.  I had an amazing support person at home who made it possible for me to do mail drops.  I would email my mother the week before with what I needed, along with a location, either a post office or a hostel, and an ETA.  For the most part this system was great, we’d wander into town pick up our package and head on our way.  If I decided I wanted to take a zero or we were delayed I had to accommodate for the difference in food.  Typically I’d hook my little lady up with raw food, a chicken leg or thigh, instead of investing in 10 pounds of food I didn’t really want her eating.

This arrived home 3 months after I came off trail – sometimes the packages don’t make their destination

Town Days

Every town is different, there is no guarantee that you will be able to find a hotel or hostel that will accommodate a dog but use your AT guide to see who is listed and always call to confirm the latest information is correct.  Dogs are not allowed into most stores so you need to come up with a solution for leaving them outside.  When I first started on trail I set my dog up with hikers who I’d been hiking with but as we got into a routine I felt comfortable leaving her attached to my pack.  On a couple occasions I returned to find a treat left on top of my pack or someone would drive up as I was headed off and hand me goodies for No Shame.  You will find places which go out of their way to accommodate dogs, cherish them!


You will encounter varying terrain along the AT.  Common sense is the most important thing you can use to handle it.  There are cliffs, rivers, roads, rocks, thorns, and barbwire.  Pay attention to your surroundings.  The southern portion of the trail is relatively kind, simple dirt trail, as you move north you come into rocks and then the roots and mud.  No Shame had trouble in northern PA with the jagged rocks, sliced one of her pads.  In NH the rocks wore down her pads so when we got into town the hot pavement made her lame.  Having spent her youth hiking through the Whites gave us an advantage as she was familiar with rock scrambles, ladders, and cliffs.  I trust No Shame to find her own footing, in places were there is lots of scrambling or jumping I allow her full freedom.  This prevents risk of injury to either of us because the leash is not interfering.  We were not prepared for river crossings, my little lady would prefer to take a mud bath then have to walk through running water.  At one point I would have preferred the mud bath too.  When the streams are rushing be smart, remove your dogs pack and figure out the safest way for them to cross.  When the streams were shallow or not very wide I allowed No Shame to  pick her way freely across them, if the water was rushing and deep she was fastened to me.


Looking down off Little Stony Man cliffs

Leash Laws

It is recommended that you keep your dog leashed along the AT but leash laws vary place to place, some areas are more clearly posted than others.  Shenandoah National Park rules state dogs need to be leashed at ALL times.  This isn’t to be a pain in your butt, although my dog may have felt otherwise, but instead to keep you and your dog safe.  After coming across 17 bears I was thrilled my dog was attached to me.


There is plenty of it out there!  The AT is home to bears, deer, porcupine, skunks, rattle snakes, bees, rat snakes, copper heads, squirrels, and many more enticing critters.  Know your dog and how they will respond to these animals.  It is your job to keep both your dog and the wildlife safe.  It is a natural instinct to rush to the aid of your dog, STOP!  Be sure you aren’t putting yourself at risk if you are trying to assist your dog.


Ticks are ticks, there is only so much you can do.  I treated No Shame with a topical tick control and did tick checks throughout the day and every night before we climbed into the tent.  This does not mean we didn’t find ticks on us, on more then one occasion I woke up to a tick crawling across me.

Accommodating Other Hikers

Be respectful of other hikers, check with folks before you decide you’re going to settle into the shelter with a dog.  If you are in the shelter and space is cramped make sure your dog isn’t taking up room someone could use, if so please move your dog.  I suggest you carry your own shelter system with you in case the shelter is full or folks don’t want to share space with your dog.  If your dog is a barker be ready to quiet them or place yourself away from other people.  Being respectful goes beyond shelter space and extends to the trails.  Keep your dog under control, don’t allow them to push past hikers, damage gear, or be rude via barking or growling.  Begging is also a no no.  Many hikers will be excited to see a dog on trail, especially one who is sweet and respectful.


Where They Can and Cannot Go

There are three places on the Appalachian Trail where dogs are not allowed to go.  Starting from the south, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, this section begins at Fontana Dam in NC spans approximately 73 miles to I-40.  Bear Mountain Zoo, NY which is less than a mile – you can take Blue blazed bypass trail.  If you are coming NoBo the bypass trail splits to the left immediately after going through the tunnel under 9W.  Baxter State Park, ME -Dogs are not allowed in any part of Baxter.  Initially I was very frustrated by the fact I couldn’t complete my thru-hike with my friend and hiking partner.  As the day got closer I was resigned to the reality and instead had my mother print a picture of her to carry with me.  I realized 3 miles from the summit that for my dogs safety alone it was best she was not up there with me.  My hands were getting cut from grabbing rocks as I propelled myself upward, her feet would have been shredded.  I let go of frustration regarding the dog rules and was thankful she was in a safe place.

If your dog is a service animal these places are not off limit to you.  And I must bring this to attention as I heard it spoken of often on trail – please DO NOT get your dog “certified” or take advantage of the “they can not ask” rule just so you can bring them through these sections of trail.  By doing this you are creating additional challenges for actual service dogs and their handlers.


There are vets in many of the towns if you need one talk to locals or do research online.  I carried current paperwork showing vaccines in case there was a need to board or receive any treatment while on trail.  While in Waynesboro VA, I took No Shame to the vet for an infected scrape on her ear.  The vet was amazing and set us up with treatment, when the infection returned they worked with me via email and placed a prescription for the next town I would be entering.

Think about it

I hope this bundle of information helps you make an educated decision about taking a dog on the trail.  As you can see there is plenty of stuff to consider and it is not a decision to be made lightly.  My hike was altered tremendously because I took a dog with me.  Be prepared to do what you need to do to keep your dog healthy and safe.

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Comments 45

  • Backfire : Jun 4th

    This is the best and most useful article I’ve ever read about hiking with your dog. This should be on the ATC’s website to help hikers who plan to take their pet. Unfortunately the many times I’ve hiked the Trail I’ve run into too many rude owners with ill behaved dogs that crowd shelters or scare hikers. I’ve also seen many sick dogs poorly prepared to be on the Trail. Thank you for writing this article. (I live with 2 rescue dogs myself).

    • Bookie : Jun 4th

      Thank you! Such a sweet complement. I’ve been trying to piece this together for the past couple of months – it was one of those things that slowly grew as people spoke to me and had direct questions and I wanted to create answers that were all encompassing without being long winded.

      After Trail Days I was even more inspired to get it out there as I met a huge number of trail dogs, some which were in love with the trail and others who were struggling on different levels whether it was physically or mentally.

      I will plan on adding a link which provides more in-depth information regarding some of the sections of trail, GSMNP, SNP, dragons tooth, The Whites, Hostels, etc. If there is anything specific you or anyone else wants information on let me know and I’ll add it in! Also feel free to check out prior blogs about “No Shame”.

    • Tammy Davis : Mar 18th

      Thank you so much for this article! Very helpful!

      • Erin Tuveson : Mar 18th

        So glad you found this beneficial. Happy to answer any other questions!
        Bookie and No Shame

  • Backpacking Enthusiast : Jun 7th

    Backpacking with your dog is a great thing to do, you are never really along with your most faithful friend by your side. Your information was most helpful and I appreciate the time you spent writing this. Can’t believe you met 17 bears on the trail! I am a novice and I am sure that is one thing you never really get used to meeting up with. Happy Hiking with No Shame! Beautiful dog! backpacking enthusiast

    • Erin M Tuveson : Jun 7th

      Thank you! It’s true when hiking with a pup you always have someone to talk to or be entertained by their antics. It makes long days go quicker.
      17… so many of them were momma bears with cubs, not sure if it makes it seems less intimidating or more.

  • The Captain : Jun 7th

    By far the most throughly thought out article about hiking with a dog. I’ve been hiking with my dog for the past two years. Glad to see you put a bear bell on yours as well. One thing that I’m adding to my dogs kit is a lightweight canvas muzzle. He’s non-aggressive however if he was to get hurt it would come in handy while tending to his wound.
    Another thing I carry for him is a set of hammock hangers to wrap around trees or poles and a 30foot length of static line. This way in camp he can have some space to himself before going to bed and he is not disturbing others or running off in to the wild.
    Hope to see y’all out there!

    • Erin M Tuveson : Jun 7th

      Thank you!
      I love my dogs bear bell, it is an antique sleigh bell. Tends to be a little less piercing then the thin metal ones you get at the outdoor gear store.
      I can see the benefit to your add ons. As a thru hiker I’m always looking for how to have multuple uses for items. Would it be possible to fashion a safe and effective muzzle from a bandana? Does the bear rope work to tie up the pup?
      Congrats on your time hiking with your pup. Keep up the good times!

  • Bill Florin : Jun 8th

    What a great article! Thank you for your effort to provide so much valuable information in one place. Clearly, there is a lot to think about when planning a long walk, and even more so if your furry friend is coming along. Nice work!

    • Erin M Tuveson : Jun 9th

      Thank you! So happy it was worth the read!

  • Bob Norton, Jr. : Jun 9th

    Great article! I’ve done trail angel work with my pup, usually heading south out of Pinkham Notch to Madison. Booster and I both head up with full packs, giving out items to hikers along the way until we circle back empty. Awesome pointers on how to focus on your pup, while enjoying the hike yourself. This article is a must read for dog owners and all users of trails where dogs go, and thank Zach for publishing it.

    • Erin M Tuveson : Jun 9th

      So glad you enjoyed! Keep up the good work out there as a trail angel – it is greatly appreciated by those you meet on trail. The type of trail magic you provide is very unexpected which makes it all the more memorable. Keep hiking with your pup and enjoy the views – hope to see you out on the trails.

  • Peggy : Jun 27th

    Great read! Do you have a link for your blog or a Facebook page. I’m planning a future hike with my German Shepherd. Thanks

  • Chris : Jun 29th

    THANK YOU for mentioning service dogs and how misrepresenting a pet can make things so much harder for true service dog teams. Hiking parts of the AT are on my bucket list. The reality is I don’t know how much my body will cooperate when I have time to research and tackle a section. One thing is for sure though and that is that my service dog accompanying me is an ABSOLUTE MUST for my health. I always am pleased to see someone politely address the issues of misrepresenting themselves as a service dog team if they are not. Things are hard enough without fighting bogus “registries” and “certifications”.

    • Bookie : Jun 30th

      happy to bring light to the truth of the matter.
      I hope you make it out on the trails with your pup, it is an amazing place which provides many opportunities for growth and understanding. happy to field any questions you may have about the trail, accessibility and hiking with a dog.
      ~Bookie and No Shame

  • Lenore : Aug 13th

    So what did u do to get threw the great Smokey mt area with your dog?

    • Erin M Tuveson : Aug 14th

      I had a trail angel who stepped up and helped me out. There are a couple places surrounding the Smokies which offer boarding. It will really depend on you and your dog.

  • Ruby Lane : Apr 16th

    Thank you for so much information. My son and I hiked the Georgia part of the AT with my loving 4 legged daughter, Tasia. (she passed June 2017 from brain tumor). Tasia was my service dog but I am pretty sure she would have hiked on without me because she loved it so much.
    One thing I don’t remember reading in your article is that, as a courtesy to others, you ALWAYS give the right away to those without dogs. Thanks again!!

    • Erin M Tuveson : Apr 19th

      Hello Ruby,
      I’m so glad this article was of interest and helpful. So glad you had time on the trails with your pup before they passed.
      I think that is a great point about right of way. On trail there are some “unsaid” rules, if you are hiking uphill you have right of way and those coming downhill should yield to you, of you have someone behind you moving at a greater speed move aside, etc.
      In my personal opinion those rules still apply whether or not you have a dog. It can become confusing for people when the rules suddenly change. The person coming downhill stops and steps out of your way and then doesn’t understand why you’ve also stopped. Moving uphill takes more energy and if I had to stop my momentum everytime I met someone coming down I’d never make it to the top. With that said if it is apparent that a person approaching you seems unsure about the dog I feel it is important to step aside and grant them the space to move by freely. I feel it is a privilege to have a dog on trail, not a right. Treat it with respect and you’ll continue to be able to enjoy the trails with a fur buddy.

  • Amanda : May 13th

    This has been a very useful article! I plan on thru hiking the AT with my dog Luca and my dad in 2019. I am worried about nutrition as he is a 100lb dog. Did you carry booties for hot pavement areas or use a paw balm? Also do you have any other packs you would recommend? Unfortunately ground bird doesn’t even have the option of getting on a waiting list until winter. His pack now is ruff wear but the straps keep slipping which makes the pack uneven. I plan on hiking the whites a lot this summer with him and would love to find a pack. I have a million questions but I guess trial and error will be how I find out what works best for us both. 2019 can’t come soon enough.

    • Erin M Tuveson : May 14th

      Email me at [email protected] and I’d be happy to talk concepts

    • Erin M Tuveson : May 26th

      Hey Amanda,
      In regards to foot protection I carried dog booties for her (
      I have a friend who uses Ruffwear and got an adapter strap for her dogs packs, alters the fit to help make up for narrow chests.
      Otherwise – if you can, hold out for GBG.
      Nutrition will be tough and it’s what many struggle with. Try different things. Every dog is different what worked for Star may not work for your pup.
      Please feel free to email me – happy to talk trail any time.

  • Brian : May 21st

    Very informative and helpful, thank you for taking the time to write this up. My question is how did you arrive in Georgia with your dog? Did you hitchhike from your city or did someone drop you? I want to start in Maine but I am not sure how to get there as I don’t want to have to put here in a cage on a train or flight. I don’t mind hitchhiking but it can take sometime and I haven’t done it yet in the US. I thought about a rental car but the fees are ridiculous to leave in another location. Thanks for your time and help!

    • Erin M Tuveson : May 26th

      Glad this article was helpful. I was dropped off in GA by a family member.
      I’m not sure how hitching such a long distance would work but you may be able to reach out to the trail community and see if you can locate trail angels along the way to help you out.
      Where are you coming from?

      • Brian Figura : Jun 9th

        Coming from pittsburgh, PA, I guess it may be a long shot but how do I locate the community? I am still going to try to make it somehow. where there’s a will..

        • Erin M Tuveson : Jun 13th

          Their are Facebook groups you can connect with, check on whiteblaze, use the AWOL guide to locate people/places near you

          • Brian Figura : Jun 13th

            Ok great thanks for the reply and help. I found a rental company called budget and it was a good price with no big fee to leave it on Bangor and then I guess we will hitch up to near the start of the trail. One more question if I can ask, how much water did you carry for you both and did you also filter your dogs water?

            • Erin M Tuveson : Jun 29th

              Glad you figured out travel.
              It is hard to provide you with any definite answers as it really depends on your dog, weather, water sources, terrain, etc.
              In regards to water it really depended on the day to day. If there were water sources frequently located along the way I didn’t carry water. If it was really hot and sources were more spread I carried. My dog is very capable of finding water along the way so I carried less and less for her. I started filtering but quickly dismissed it as she usually arrived at water before me.
              Hope this helps
              ~Bookie amd No Shame

              • Brian : Jun 2nd

                Hey Bookie,
                I just wanted to thank you. You had the most informative article I found regarding thru-hiking with a dog. I am pleased to tell you that my dog Daphnie (sassy pine fresh) and I (Hac-man) finished our Flipflop through hike last year (july 16-dec 23) and Daph did everything that was legal for her to do with no problems. It was an incredible experience and a time with her that I will never forget. I learned so much through her, by observing and seeing how she interacted in the world. I wanted to come personally to thank you in Vermont but I ended up staying at Chet’s. My friend firecracker (also hiked a big portion of the trail with her dog) came and stayed with you but she forgot to give my regards. But thank you again for answering all my questions and for putting together such great articles. I am trying to help other people now that have questions with hiking with an older dog (daph is 8) and so the love and kindness can spread. Wishing you guys all the best and hope to meet one day.

  • Laura Slauenwhite : Aug 31st

    I just stumbled upon this post and I have to say I love it. My dog is a retired conservation dog and we both live for hiking and camping. It’s so great to see other people adventuring with their dogs. This article was so informative and exciting to read. You’re a great dog momma!

    • Erin M Tuveson : Jun 10th

      Thank you for the kind words. We had a blast and would love to get back out on another long distance hike, we both miss the trail!
      Bookie and No Shame

  • Phunmama555 : Apr 5th

    Thank you sooo much for your insight and advice for thru hiking the AT with a dog. I am planning my thru hike for 2021 with my beloved 4-legged fur baby, but still have a few questions after reading.

    While I understand portions of the AT are off limits for dogs for their safety, where do they go during that portion of the hike? How do you get them back so they can rejoin your for the “allowed” portions?

    Are their “bypass” trails you can take for Great Smoky Mountain National Park and Baxter State Park and still get credited as a thru-hiker like there is for Bear Mountain Zoo?

    Thanks so much in advance!

    • Erin M Tuveson : Jun 10th

      In regards to what to do with your dog in the GSMNP or Baxter it will depend on what you want from your hike. In the GSMNP you can look at boarding your dog, there are a couple of different options in the area. I recommend using the AWOL guide to get up to date information about what facilities are available, if they shuttle, cost, etc. We were lucky and had someone offer to watch No Shame. I did not know this person but we had a number of people in common on FB who I felt were strong ties, some of which knew them personally. The power of social media. If you are unable to locate someone to take your dog or don’t want the expense of boarding you can consider hitching around the GSMNP and doing them at a different point in time. Some boarding facilities offer shuttling for you and your dog.
      Baxter does not have alternatives. Baxter is where you finish (or start) your hike with the summit of Katahdin, it is an out and back hike (if you stay on the AT).
      I am unaware of any bypass trails. In regards to getting “credit” your hike is your own, people all define a thru hike in different ways. For some it is passing by EVERY white blaze, stepping off trail at one point and returning to the exact same point. For others it is hiking anything between GA and ME and seeing everything the trail has to offer. When you submit your 2,000 miler form to the ATC it is based on what you say. Some folks say it’s a “2,000” miler so if you miss 193 miles you still hiked 2,000. You will have to be the judge of how you view that.
      hope this helps.
      Bookie and No Shame

  • Kayla : Apr 6th

    This was an amazing article on hiking with your dog. Honestly the most informative I have found. I am planning a thru hike for next year, and I really want to bring my dog along. I know she would love the journey, and being out in the wilderness with my best pal seems like a dream. When you arrived at Baxter where did you leave No Shame? Did you have someone meet you there, or are there places near by you can board your pup for the day? I know the Smokies have a few options, but I have not seen much about Baxter.

    Thank you!

    • Erin M Tuveson : Jun 10th

      Hey Kayla,
      So glad this article was helpful to you! No Shame and I are so excited to share our experiences and be able to help others. I’m from New England so I had family come up and meet me at Baxter and No Shame got to enjoy a night of comfort with them.
      There are a couple of options in Millinocket for boarding (or were in 2015). You’ll also have tramily (trail family) and you may find that someone you know and trust will be summiting the day before or after you and are happy to watch your pup for the day. Now if you’d asked me in GA if I’d ever leave my dog with someone I’d tell you no, but by the end of our hike I would have trusted any of my tramily with my little lady (and I did). I would recommend the AWOL guide for up to date information regarding options on the trail.
      Hope this helps. Feel free to let me know if there is anything else we can help you with!
      ~Bookie and No Shame

  • Tim Harley : Dec 17th

    Thank you for such a great article! I am looking at thru hiking the AT possibly in 2021. Been considering several options and taking my pooch along with me is one of them. This article is chock full of information I needed to know. I have back packed and hiked over the years with my dogs, but never anything of this magnitude. And I did not realize that GSMNP and Baxter did not allow dogs. These are certainly not insurmountable issues (as your story attests to), but definitely require some forethought.

    Well written.

    • Erin Tuveson : Jun 25th

      Hey, thrilled that this article provided some insight to the trail. Hope you made it out on trail this year! Happy hiking!
      ~Bookie and No Shame

  • Troy Higgins aka Minister : May 21st

    Good job!

    My wife, dog (Bella) and I hiked from Springer mtn GA to PenMar PA. about a 1000mi without the GSMNP. I agree with the essential importance of a well behaved dog second only to her genetic disposition to work—short coat comes in handy too

    We did see dogs that seemed strong enough, but just didn’t seem happy doing the work. We kept Bella’s pack down to about 10% of her body weight for the same reason you kept No Shame’s down.

    Turns out, for us, that one of the most important piece of gear in her pack was her muzzle. We took it, not because she’s aggressive, but to assure folks in crowded places that she can’t bite.

    But we found that about 60%, maybe even more, of places and service that say “No Dogs”. That when we explained her obedience, sweet nature and that we would keep her muzzled. They would make an exception to their rules. And that was a big logistical help.

    • Erin Tuveson : Jun 25th

      Congratulations on your miles, what an accomplishment!
      The idea of a muzzle is great, the more I learn about things relating to dogs the more aware I become of how beneficial muzzle training can be.
      Hope you continue to enjoy your hikes!
      ~Bookie and No Shame

  • Shevon : Aug 6th

    Thanks for taking the time to share this information! I’m planning on a Flip-Flop in 2021. You’ve mentioned the “AWOL” a few times in your replies…what is that?

    Also, what accommodations did you & your girl use? I’m assuming a tent? My girl and I are used to sleeping in a sort of “puppy pile” already with another furbaby at home (he won’t be joining us because he’s a tripod & even tho he does well and would gladly endure anything to join us, I feel the ATC would be too demanding on him long-term, plus he’s not a service dog, but she is, so they’d be split up anyway), I have been entertaining the idea of a hammock for us with plans to try it out on shorter trips first. Because of her training, she knows how to open zippers and I just have mental images of her letting herself out of the tent to relieve herself and do sentry (and possibly encountering wildlife), but then returning to the tent and of course not being as good about zipping the tent flap closed again & us waking up with critters of some sort or another. :-\ I suppose we could sleep tethered together, but think we might prefer the hammock, as long as our trial runs don’t prove it a bad idea. Also, did you have any issues restocking supplies that weren’t shipped out because of having her with you?

    And what FB (or other media) groups would you recent for meeting trail angels and other hikers before beginning our hike?


    • Erin Tuveson : Jun 25th

      Hey, sorry for my delayed response! I hope you found some of the answers on your own and made it out onto trail this year. In case you didn’t. AWOL guide is a guide book of the AT.
      We tented, my girl is only a snuggler in the morning and I would have sweated to death with her in a hammock.
      You’ll have to figure out what works best for you on your own. If you’re worried about them opening zippers you can close them with mini carabiners or other system.
      Hope you’re enjoying the trails!
      ~ Bookie and No Shame

  • Eric : Jun 25th

    It was nice to meet you and No Shame on the way up Moosilauke Sunday (6/20)! She was still quite well behaved and her enthusiasm helped put a pep in our step. Good luck and see you on the trail!

    • Erin Tuveson : Jun 25th

      Hey Eric! Great meeting you as well! Hope you enjoyed your hike! Beautiful day to be out! So glad No Shame (aka Star) was an energizer along the trail. She does love her trail time!
      See you out there and keep planning for the long haul!
      ~Bookie and No Shame

  • Theresa and Manchee : Aug 2nd

    Hi! I am planning on thru-hiking the AT in 2023 and want to bring my pup, who remarkably looks a lot like No Shame! This article has given me a lot of valuable info! Thank you. I was wondering if you did vlogs of your hike? I’d love to see them if you did. Also do you have a personal blog?
    How did No Shame do on the rebar ladders and such?


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