You have a new family member, or maybe this is an older family member who is looking for a new hobby other than hogging the couch pillows and eating table scraps. Either way—congratulations on your future adventure dog!
Unlike small, two-legged family members, these furry children don’t whine (much), don’t need to be carried (usually), and don’t poop on themselves (though they may roll in poop).
You have this dog. It looks like he likes the outdoors, but he also likes to sleep. A lot. And eat. A lot. And did we mention sleep? So how do you know he will make a good adventure partner? What do you need to do to train the next Loki the Wolfdog? Don’t worry—we’re like dog whisperers. We can help.
1. Establish Interest
Ask if your dog wants to lead a life of exploration and adventure and animal scents and steep descents. When they cock their head in confusion, put on your excited voice and use words like “Walk!” “Car!” “Go!” Leash!” “Treats!” “Dinner!” If their enthusiastic tail wagging knocks items off the table and their excited yips summon the neighbors, you have your answer. If they give you the side eye and go back to sleep, remember that adventure cats exist too.
2. Gear Up
You’re on board, your dog is on board, now it’s time to hit the trails! Hold up, partner. Not so fast. Do you venture out into the wild with no gear? We didn’t think so. Fashion Fido with a warm coat and booties in the winter months. Fit Fido with a pack so he can carry his own food, water, and snacks. Fix Fido up with a new leash that’s long and durable. And if Fido will be accompanying you on overnight adventures, don’t forget to grab collapsible bowls and his own sleeping pad.
3. Find A Trail
Willing pup, overflowing gear closet, now is it time to hike? Not quite. While you adore your furry friend and want him to shadow you everywhere, he’s actually not allowed on every trail. Some wilderness areas are designated watersheds that don’t allow dogs, some have delicate ecosystems, and some have stricter leash laws than others. Do some research and make sure your destination is Fido-friendly.
4. Take It Easy
Dog, gear, destination—check! Now you’re ready for an adventure! You’re going to put the car in park, exuberantly throw open the car door, and Fido will be the happiest, most energetic dog in the Western Hemisphere. But while it may appear that your dog can hike forever, take it easy. Remember all the times you went out strong and then bonked on the way back to the car? Take plenty of breaks for water or snacks (we know, that’ll be hard for you).
5. Get Cozy
You decided to go all in and take Fido backpacking. Awesome! Go big or go home, right? Once you pick the most perfect, Instagram-worthy campsite, give your rockstar adventure dog some food and water and let them settle in while you set up camp. Then once your tent is set up, invite them inside and let them check out their new digs. Almost every dog will be overjoyed at the idea of sleeping side-by-side with their best friend, so don’t worry too much there. Your biggest issue will probably be him hogging the sleeping pad.
6. Reap the Rewards
You wake up in your tent nice and toasty because Fido snuggled hard with you last night. You eat breakfast together, pack up camp together, and happily hike back to your car. At home, you unpack your gear and occasionally check on your pup, who hasn’t moved from his spot by the fireplace in hours. Success! The only downside is that Fido isn’t a human, so he won’t understand why you can’t hike every day…
Yes, this all may sound like overprotective parent babble, but this is a thru-hike, not a short jaunt on the trails. You want to build and reinforce good behaviors so that both you and your doggo can spend many miles together outdoors.