What to (Back)Pack for Your Pooch

The Ten Canine Essentials
By Craig Romano, Alan Bauer, November 2008, Updated February 2015

When planning a backcountry adventure or a simple day hike with your canine companion, bring the right gear and plenty of it—not just for you, but also for the dog, too. You’ve heard about the Ten Essentials for people—you need to carry the Ten Canine Essentials as well, say Craig Romano and Alan Bauer, authors of Best Hikes with Dogs: Inland Northwest.

1. Obedience training. Your dog must be able to behave properly around other dogs, people, and wildlife.

2. Doggie backpack. Your dog should be able to carry his own gear, including food and water. Unless you double as a Sherpa, let your sharpie carry his own. A general rule is one pound in the pack per twenty pounds of dog. (If your dog like to immerse herself in streams, you might want to package items in plastic bags.)

 3. Canine first-aid kit. Dogs are prone to injury, bee stings and other traumas. Take a canine first-aid course and read up on the subject for details on what include in a doggie first-aid kit.


Sign up for our newsletter and stay in the know.

Email Address:

4. Dog food and trail treats. As with your own supply, pack more dog food than you think your pooch will need. Also consider that your dog will be burning more calories than when the two of you sit at home watching Best in Show. Scooby Snacks are a good idea as well.

5. Water and water bowl. Your dog has to intake sufficient fluids, too. Don’t count on dog water being available on the trail. A lightweight collapsible bowl will make it easier for her to drink.

6. Leash and harness or collar. Always carry one even it if is not required on the trail. A situation may arise that warrants lassoing your Lassie.

7. Insect repellant. Mosquitoes love dog blood, too. But before dousing your dog with DEET, be sure that he doesn’t have any negative reactions to it. And use it sparingly. Be sure that he can’t lick where you apply it (and stay clear of the eyes and inner ears). Ticks are also a concern on some trails and can be thwarted by applying Frontline or K9 Advantix.

8. ID tags, microchips and picture identification. Like hikers, dogs can get lost. Be sure your dog has his ID tags on. Carrying a picture can help other identify your dog. For all George Orwell fans, consider having your dog microchipped.

9. Dog Booties. Good for protecting your dog’s feet on rough terrain, good for traction on snow and good for keeping bandages in place if your buddy injures a paw.

10. Plastic bags and trowel. You’ll need the bags to collect any presents your dog may leave on the trail. If you’re on a popular trail, pack it out. Otherwise use your trowel to dig a small hole (away from water sources) and bury it. Additional items to consider: A brush comes in handy, especially if your dog is of the long hair persuasion. A brush will help remove seeds and other debris and may also reveal tenacious ticks. Some type of sleeping pad for your dog is a nice touch.

Adapted from Best Hikes with Dogs: Inland Northwest by Craig Romano and Alan Bauer, The Mountaineers Books, $16.95 paperback