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Taking your dog into the backcountry? Heed this crucial advice

Far-flung Fido

Dogs are great companions on the trail—provided you keep them safe

Dogs can make the perfect backwoods travelling companions—they love to explore new areas and take in all the sights and smells along the trail. Hiking with dogs in the backcountry is easy, too, with the proper gear and preparation. Just be sure to obey the local rules. Some places allow dogs on leashes, for example, while others prohibit them completely. And to maintain good relations with your fellow anglers, hunters and hikers, always scoop up after your pooch on designated trails.

Gear

Dogs are usually happy to carry their own food, bowl and bedding, but they need a well-fitted dog pack to do so. Match the pack to the size of your dog and the duration of the adventure, and be sure to balance the weight in the saddlebags. As well, place heavy items such as food at the bottom of the bags, with lighter objects on top. Before heading out, train your dog to carry a light load at first, then gradually increase the weight to no more than 25 per cent of the dog’s own body weight.

Safety

A dog in bear country can sometimes lead to unwanted encounters. Dogs that run off into the woods after a bear can unwittingly bring trouble back to their masters, for example. So, it’s important to keep your canine companion under control using either a leash (where required) or an e-collar. Even the best-trained dogs can get unpredictable around bears, so don’t rely on voice commands alone. Of course, dogs can also help deter conflicts in bear country, their keen senses serving as an early-warning system. Their bark can also deter bears from approaching. And in an emergency, most dogs will try to protect you by running interference, giving you precious seconds to climb a tree or find a weapon.

Dogs are great companions on the trail—provided you keep them safe Click to Tweet

Lowell Strauss

Saskatchewan’s Lowell Strauss often writes about hunting dogs for Outdoor Canada. He's our top dog guy!

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