The Missus and I love to go hiking with dogs. Usually our hiking season is July - early September, but this year it will be scaled back a bit. Why? Beorn, our Bernese Mountain Dog, is recovering from his second knee surgery in two years. He needs time to build his strength back.
Hudson, however is ready to go at any time. He loves getting out in the woods.
The painting at the end of this post (the image above is a detail) is of Boris our Mastador (Black Labrador / Mastiff cross), who passed in 2019, and Beorn on a hike back in 2018, when they were both in their prime.
This year, I hope to get some reference photos of Beorn and Hudson on the hike. I'm always on the lookout for painting inspiration.
Home Turf vs. Mountain Hikes
For us, there are lots of similarities between hiking at home and hiking in the mountains. Living in a rural wooded area, I hike with Hudson every day, so he's used to trails, forests, and fields. Beorn will join us once again when his knee is stronger. In our home hikes, we’re always coming across wild animals. Deer are common. Elk are less so. And every so often we come across a moose. We’ve seen coyotes, bobcats, bears, eagles, owls and hawks. The occasional porcupine can makes things interesting as well, especially with Hudson, who refuses to learn any lesson from those encounters.
I don’t leash the dogs when hiking at home. It’s our home turf, and they know the area quite well and tend to stick to the trail, or near to it.
Hiking in the mountains is a little bit different than hiking with dogs at home. Our normal hikes are day excursions, not overnight. So we don’t have to bring a full load of overnight gear. I usually bring standard hiking gear (map, compass, first aid kit, etc.) and some other items that might be needed.
While home hiking we don’t use leashes, but when hiking with dogs in the mountains, we bring them, even if we don’t always use them. That said, we are always conscientious toward other hikers, and will always grab our dogs and leash up when other hikers approach.
Hiking with dogs who pull their weight
Also, we have some great dog packs for our boys. A few years ago, we purchased a couple extra-large RuffWear dog packs. We love ‘em. The dogs do, too.
Well, to be precise, Beorn LOOOOOOVES his dog pack. As a Bernese Mountain Dog, carrying loads and helping out is in his blood. He loves having a job to do.
I think Hudson will do just fine with a backpack. I've had him wearing a harness regularly when out and about. He's adjusted to having something strapped to him and doesn't fret at all. A backpack is no different, just slightly bulkier.
The dogs will bring their own snacks in their Ruffwear packs, along with whatever else we think they might need (water, collapsible bowl, etc.).
The hikes we prefer are trails that lead to mountain lakes. Our dogs love a refreshing swim after a long hike up a trail, and we like to give them a nice reward for being good hiking dogs.
I'm definitely looking forward to some hikes with these guys when Summer finally arrives.
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