Hiking or Backpacking with your dog is a great form of exercise. Dogs travel with their owners for extended periods of time. This is longer than a normal daily walk and can take several days or weeks. Or it might just be several hours.


What: Hiking/packing
Description: Walking for extended periods, typically in nature, sometimes with a backpack
Training: Can be taught completely at home
Time until ready: Just about zero
Age to start: Any age but probably should wait until growth plates are closed for extremely long hikes

Typically a walk can be called a hike when:

  • It takes place in an outdoor setting that is not developed (ie National Forest)
  • The dogs are allowed to interact with nature
  • The distance/time is greater than a standard neighborhood walk

But these are just guidelines. It can become packing when the dog wears a specially designed backpack.

This can be one of the best ways to enrich your dog’s lives. Most dogs love to explore their environment free of the confines of the human designed world. It can improve a dog’s mental and physical health.

There’s not much you need to get started. Simply start walking with your dog. You should check with your veterinarian to ensure your dog is healthy before starting a series of hikes. You may want to start small and gradually increase the distance hiked. This will help both you and your dog be successful. Sore muscles can turn a fun outing into a terrible experience. Ensure that your dog is old enough to hike long distances. A young puppy should not be expected to hike for several hours.

This can actually be an organized “sport” when the dog/handler attempt to earn hiking/packing titles through a national organization.  There are several organizations that offer backpacking titles. Mostly, these are National Breed clubs. For example, the American Working Collie Association offers backpacking titles for Collies, the Samoyed Club of America offers packing titles for Samoyeds, etc. Check with your breed’s club to see if they offer this title.

There is one national organization that is not breed specific that offers titles in Packing.

DSA Dog Scouts of America All Dogs

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