How [we plan] To Hike With 2 Dogs
People: “It’s just a dog.”
Me: “First of all, that’s my freaking child!”
Meet Buster and Izzy, the way more exciting half of our 4-person family! Buster is 2 years old and Izzy is 1 ½. Being beagles, you can imagine that second to sitting on our laps, being outside is their favorite place to be! Hiking 500 miles without them seems crazy, so here we are.
We’ve heard of a lot of people taking their pups on a thru hike, but not many of those have been beagles. A few limitations and logistical challenges are sure to arise, but we are trying our best to plan accordingly.
Here’s what we’ve got so far:
We’ve decided on Tucker’s Carnibars for breakfast and dinner. Each bar provides a days worth of meals for each dog, comes in 4 flavors, and packs a lot of nutrition and calories for only 3 oz! Through our research, we’ve decided to up the dogs food by one meal a day which means we need a lunch option. Stella & Chewy’s makes dehydrated meat patties that our dogs LOVE. Five patties each day will give us 2 ½ for each dog for lunch. We haven’t figured out the exact weight but these things are light as a feather and the dogs devour them.
Buster and Izzy have gotten pretty used to hiking with us and know that when we stop, it means treats and water. They do pretty well drinking the water we pour into a collapsible bowl for them, and they also drink out of every stream we cross. In addition to stream crossings and water that we filter, we have an extra plan for their water to keep them hydrated. K9 Power Go Dog Hydration and Performance Formula is designed specifically for dogs and a bunch of other fancy things that you’re welcome to read for yourself. It’s a meat-flavored powder that we will mix with their water (we plan on having a water bottle just for them). Half a scoop per 21 oz of water for each dog a day and we are set! Let’s just hope we don’t accidentally take a sip out of it! YUCK!
We don’t plan on packing any extra snacks for the dogs. Three meals a day plus the rehydration formula should give them what they need. Things can always change over the course of the next 4 months though! My mom will be mailing our resupply boxes and we plan on adding a few extra treats for the dogs in each box for them to snack on before we get back on the trail…busy bones and pig ears are their favorites!
The terrain here in Southern Illinois hasn’t been too rough, but we know the mountains of Colorado will deliver tougher situations. We plan on bringing along something called Musher’s Wax to help keep the dogs paws protected. They are not strictly inside dogs though, so their paws get plenty of exposure outside as of right now. This is something we are a little worried about, but won’t really know until we start putting in longer hikes and see how they dogs respond.
Instead of collars, we use harnesses which provides us a little more control over the dogs movements. Buster and Izzy only weight about 20 lbs each, so carrying a backpack would be pretty useless. These leashes have worked out great so far. They fit like a belt around your waist and have a bungee cord that you hook to the belt and then to the dog. This allows us to go “hands free” while using trekking poles or using our hands for extra stability going downhill. The bungee device allows the leash to give just enough that the dogs excitement doesn’t send us tumbling down the mountain. Another great feature is that our belts buckle together to make a lasso to clip around a tree. When setting up camp or taking a break, we can “tie” them up out of our way. No messing with a rope and it getting tangled between the two dogs roaming around.
That’s all we’ve got so far but we think it’s a great start! This past weekend, we hiked 9 miles and the dogs seemed to do just fine. Their paws were in great shape, but they did seem to lose a little steam around mile 7.5-8. We plan on continuing to hike every weekend and begin to walk the dogs frequently during the week.
The first 110 miles of our trip is planned and we are ready for February! Our first backpacking weekend is coming up in a few weeks. We can’t wait to test out some of our gear!
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Consideration for some sort of gps device attached to their collars may be helpful. Not to mention putting a chip in them in case the actually get lost. Their noses may lead them down a different path whenever the opportunity arises.
Hope you have a wonderful time with your pets.
Are you aware that the first16 miles of the CT, starting from the east, are a no-dog zone?
Yep! We are using the alternate start at Indian Creek trail!
Wow, you write so well! I have been wondering about how you are packing for the dogs. So cute.
Thank you, Karen 🙂
What is your start date on th AT?
We’re actually hiking the Colorado Trail this summer. We plan to start June 21st as long as the snow melt cooperates!
Have you talked with your vet about the hike? I had heard it wasn’t so great to take young dogs (under 2) for long distance hikes, as their bones are still developing and could set them up for issues later on in life.
Hi Tina, no we haven’t yet. We have a check up scheduled in a couple weeks. But both dogs will be over 2 years old when we start hiking. Buster will almost be 3 and Izzy will be 2 years and 1 month. We’ll see what the vet says!