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Old 09-19-2007, 07:56 PM   #1
adk joe
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Hiking dogs?

What would you say are the best types of dogs suited for hiking and backpacking? What specific types of breeds are best for rugged trail and long millage??

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Old 09-20-2007, 07:08 AM   #2
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Other than some of the toys breeds that might be to small to keep up i think any breed that is in good shape and keep watered,fed,warm or cool,depending on the seaason should do ok. We hike with a lab and a pointer and they do great carrying their own food for up to 3 days in MtSmith dogie packs. http://www.adkforum.com/showthread.php?t=7240
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Old 09-20-2007, 08:18 AM   #3
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I have heard a lot of good things about the australian herding dogs, there good looking dogs as well. What other breeds do you have/hike with? keep em commin!!
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Old 09-20-2007, 09:11 AM   #4
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I dont have a dog (my apartment doesnt allow it), but I'd like to get a sled dog, a smallish malamute or husky preferably. those things can travel extremely long distances, like natural marathon runners. and the cold doesnt bother them a bit (just give them a trim in the summer to keep them cool). very smart and loyal too. But their pulling strength and instincts can sometimes make them a challenge to walk. you'd have to fine one with a very obedient disposition and train it well. And they require lots of space and excercise, so i couldnt get one until I get a house with some land. and they shed a lot.

Just make sure it gets along very well with other people and dogs. I've met some very cranky dogs out there that frankly shouldnt have been out hiking on public trails.

(just dont get a poodle)
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Old 09-20-2007, 11:31 AM   #5
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Malamute and husky are pretty high on my list, I hike and camp a lot in the winter and that is a huge factor when choosing the right dog. I have had numerous dogs but mainly as just house pets and the ocasional fishing buddy, now I am looking for not only a dog but a backcountry companion seeing how I fish/hike solo 99% of the time.
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Old 09-20-2007, 11:53 AM   #6
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I would have to say any dog that has been properly trained, makes a good trail dog. Remember to socialize the dog early.
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Old 09-20-2007, 06:58 PM   #7
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I agree with Lumberzac.
My last dog was a tan, or copper & white beagle. She sight chased a deer, during rabbit season ONE time. After, easily getting her back-I called her over to the track & told her "NO! Bad girl!" Well, you would've thought I had shot her & broke her heart. She NEVER would chase a deer again, even & she saw one, or if I called her over to a track- she'd take a quick look & would turn her head away as if to say: "Nope, I'm not doing it & you can't make me". One example of many for that exceptional dog. She took long hikes with me & never had a problem. A beagle.
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Old 09-25-2007, 08:09 PM   #8
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Don't take dogs hiking. You have to leash them. It's not fun. I got my pooch in Montana when I lived there. Except for the National Parks, it's a dog hiker's paradise.

Sara and I did Gray, Marcy and Skylight from Upper Works two summers ago. We were stopped three times by a ranger (super nice guy!) who said that the dog needs to be leashed. I consider us lucky because the same ranger saw us three times without Sage on a leash.

It's too hard to leash a dog on the rough ADK trails. If you are doing remote areas where you won't get caught breaking the law, then by all means go for it.

Our dog is a neutered male Sheppard, Golden black lab mix. Super sweet and minds well. He loves to hike and since we moved back east, his heart gets broken far too often when he sees load a backpack or put on our boots...It absolutely crushes me too.

Sadly, this will be our last dog.
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Old 09-25-2007, 09:22 PM   #9
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Don't take dogs hiking. You have to leash them. ... We were stopped three times by a ranger (super nice guy!) who said that the dog needs to be leashed. I consider us lucky because the same ranger saw us three times without Sage on a leash.

It's too hard to leash a dog on the rough ADK trails. If you are doing remote areas where you won't get caught breaking the law, then by all means go for it.
There's an easy solution to that problem: DON'T TAKE YOUR DOG HIKING IN THE HIGH PEAKS, because that leash regulation doesn't apply (and isn't needed) anywhere else in the Adirondacks.

I have had the good fortune of hiking/canoeing/camping with two good trail dogs. Purdy was a three-legged greyhound-mix that went just about everywhere. After one encounter with a black bear, she NEVER bothered wildlife ever again. We came within 100 feet of bears, deer, and a porcupine several times later on, and she never flinched. She wasn't too fond of the cold, though, unless we constantly kept moving.

My current dog is Lexie, who is part pit bull. A very fun-loving, strong, energetic dog who, unfortunately, had to learn things the hard way--including three porcupine encounters and one lost dog incident--before she became a trustworthy trail dog. It was worth the patience. I kept her on a leash for a while, then eventually let her on her own, although every now and then she'd wander somewhere by herself. She's 6 now and has been enjoying a long stretch of exceptional behavior. Carrying her own backpack helps too. And she loves the winter, so long as it's not too ridiculously cold--and so long as she can burrow into my sleeping bag if we're camping!
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Old 09-26-2007, 09:02 PM   #10
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There's an easy solution to that problem: DON'T TAKE YOUR DOG HIKING IN THE HIGH PEAKS, because that leash regulation doesn't apply (and isn't needed) anywhere else in the Adirondacks.
YET!Lets all be careful in the rest of the park so we don't get hit with more regs....Remember,alot of people just don't like dogs and are afraid of them ,especially when met with a bounding and barking dog coming down a trail..BE CAREFUL so we don't lose this benefit of not hiking in real crowded areas!Always make sure your dog is well socialized!
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Old 09-26-2007, 10:30 PM   #11
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Where are we legally alowed to be on state land without a leash ?

I thought it was a park-wide rule.

Wildriver, I hear ya about the living bed warmer but the muddy feet on the dog is like wearing boots into the bag. I guess you clean her off pretty good.
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Old 09-26-2007, 10:57 PM   #12
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Where are we legally alowed to be on state land without a leash ?

I thought it was a park-wide rule.

Wildriver, I hear ya about the living bed warmer but the muddy feet on the dog is like wearing boots into the bag. I guess you clean her off pretty good.
The leash requirement is only for the High Peaks, Dix Mountain, and Giant Mountain Wilderness Areas. And campgrounds, of course. Everywhere else in the Adirondacks, common sense applies. But Chair Rock has a good point that not every dog is born a good trail dog. Some take a little patience and training.

Muddy paws in the sleeping bag has never been an issue with us. Lexie's all time favorite hobby in the woods is hunting frogs, so she's in the water and pretty clean. And in the winter, when she wants to get in the sleeping bag, mud is a non-issue. The bigger problem is getting her to leave me some room.
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Old 09-27-2007, 02:33 AM   #13
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Well as far as the leash law, it's unsafe for the dog handler. But of course there are idiots who insist there unsocial dog should be out on the trail and thus we all suffer.

I was following the rules during my annual Algonquin sunrise hike a few years ago with my group and everyone thought I was crazy keeping him on a leash because it looked unsafe having to control a dogs movements as I descended.

Basically, I avoid the peaks during the summer, during daylight hours, and during winter weekends or weekends period. I avoid the rangers as much as possible, and since they tend to be where the people are I go elsewhere (nothing against them, most are nice, but I don't really want a fine). The peaks have too many rules, too many patrols. I go to VT and NH to hike mountains. I've seen 1 ranger in 10 years in the Presidentials.

As far as dogs, any breed can be good or bad. I've only had one that was mine, a border collie. He's followed me down rivers, across lakes, behind my mountain bike at 25mph, followed me on monster hikes and bike rides, I've rappelled off cliffs with him in a harness, climbed (non crevassed) glaciers with him, and even climbed central gully on mount washington. He's pretty much swam the whole length off Little Tupper as a pup when we could barely keep him in the boat. These days he spends a bit more time in the boat.

I should note, his first few trips he couldn't/wouldn't even cross a stream and seemed confused by most trail obstacles. 4 days later he was a hiking machine. Dogs need to be treated like children at first. A 4 month old dog is about the equiv of a 6-8 yo kid. Be careful where you take them and build up gradually. No weight in the pack till at least 6 mos old, then just add a bit incrementally.

Once after we climbed Chapel Pond Slab and (according to him) foolishly left him at the base, he climbed the first 3 pitches just for $h!ts and giggles.

As far as muddy paws, I have to say "get over it". It's not meant to be rude...I was a major sleeping bag/tent clean freak, and still am to a degree. I'm completely anal retentive about my gear. Sleeping bags come out of the stuff sack the minute we get home, as does the tent. Drop my tent poles or snap them together, get the evil eye. My wife says touching my gear is like walking on eggshells. But I've made some doggy concessions, I don't use down bags unless it's well below freezing anymore, and synthetics only last a few years anyway. Give them a wash when they get REALLY dirty and get over it. Tents hold up just fine, let the dog in after you set everything up and ours sleeps between the two pads. Or when paddling on a crazy creek chair on rough ground. Keep nails trimmed too, but in 8 years and 5 different tents (still have 4 of them) not a single hole from nails. I don't use thermarest often but I do have one, and never really found it to be a problem if he walked on it.

One final thing to note...if you get a herding breed you absolutely need to keep it active. It will most likely be the most destructive force you've ever seen if you just think you can take it out on weekends. BCs, Aussie Shepards, Cattle Dogs (blue heelers), etc, all need to be stimulated, trained, and excercised daily. If they aren't, they develop neurotic tendencies like chasing tales, digging, destroying your home. Some of these dogs can do a 5 mile run as a warmup. If you're that active it might be a good breed. If not a lab does better with down time. And finally, no joke, having a dog that might be smarter than you is not an easy task. These dogs can herd a flock of sheep without supervision, or via hand signals from hundreds of yards away, they have the amazing ability to control things and an inexperienced owner will find him/herself frustrated while trying to train such a bright animal.


A small slice of my dogs adventures:






















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Old 09-27-2007, 08:58 AM   #14
adk joe
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Don't take dogs hiking. You have to leash them. It's not fun. I got my pooch in Montana when I lived there. Except for the National Parks, it's a dog hiker's paradise.
I lived in Montana for 20 years, my best friends growing up were dogs, we had 6 on our farm 3 of which were aussi sheperds.

All great advice thank you.

Pico thanks for sharing your experience, your dog is beautiful.
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Old 09-28-2007, 01:03 AM   #15
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My Belgian Malinois probably has the best sense of direction and is the most trail worthy of the three. She can go forever and is extremely agile, she's also a very good tracker and search dog. If I could choose anyone to be on the trail with it would be her. Posesses a scary and uncanny ability to feed herself in any situation. Best dog to take if you fancy mouse and squirrel stew or if you have anyone (two or four legged) who gets lost.

My Lab/Rottweiler - too lazy for long mileage (tends to collapse at my feet panting after about a half a mile). Falls into creeks, etc. and appears lost while in plain sight of me; gets very surprised when I call out to him, though is very happy to finally be found after the two minutes he thinks he's been lost. I think he got hit by a car as a pup, hence he's intellectually and balance challenged.

My Golden Retriever/Shephard/Chow - good hiker, good ability for mileage, but not so good at staying on the trail and finding his way back. Will follow anyone. Falls off trees quite a lot. I have to send the Malinois out to retrieve him frequently. At least he always comes back happy.

Pico - wonderful photos and descriptions; and I agree about the herding breeds. They need loads of exercise daily. I also avoid hiking with my dogs when anyone else is likely to be on the trail; I avoid the High Peaks and hike trails that are very infrequently used. I once tried to hike with the dogs on leash and found it was quite hazardous, I do not hike where a leash is reqiured or where I am likely to encounter anyone.
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Old 09-28-2007, 11:34 AM   #16
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Try taking a 70 pound Boxer hiking! This dog is so strong he will actually pull you up the mountain when on a leash. The only problem is when itís warm, he practically steps on his own tongue!
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Old 10-01-2007, 03:12 PM   #17
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How about some dog names inspired by or named after the adirondacks, what ya got??
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Old 10-01-2007, 04:47 PM   #18
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How about some dog names inspired by or named after the adirondacks, what ya got??
Mine aren't Adirondacks but the Rottweiler is Sirius (the dog star) and the mutt is Denali (but we call her Dali).
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Old 10-01-2007, 06:47 PM   #19
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Mine is Howie ... and there is a Howard mountain (near Big Slide) ... but that wasn't my prime reason for naming him that
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Old 10-01-2007, 07:28 PM   #20
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I hike with an Australian Shepherd, and my previous hiker dog was a Lab. I have also owned a Border Collie, grew up with German and Belgian Shepherds, and fostered/trained three Aussies for Australian Shepherd Rescue and Helpline; a rescue affiliated with the Australian Shepherd Club of America.

I chose an Aussie for my second dog due to these factors:
-size & portability
-bred for all day work and endurance
-agility
-day to day companionship, activity partner in other sports besides hiking
-I used to be heavily involved in sheep herding, obedience, agility and show ring with her, but have no money or desire for such things right now

But please consider also these factors:
-herding dogs are not generally "beginner dogs" -- smart and hardworking, they require an experienced dog handler.

If you chose a herding breed:
Australian Shepherds are the most social of the herding breeds. This is not to say that an Aussie likes people like Labs do. It means that an Australian Cattle Dog AKA Blue Heeler likes people less and tends towards aggressive and a Border Collie likes people less and tends towards fear/anxiety/fear aggression. With an Aussie, you've got a dog who is more social but who needs a strong leader as well as someone who is very sensitive to socializing them properly -- meaning it starts with the breeder and continues lifelong with the owner -- low stress and not overwhelming -- good quality socialization in small doses and increments, avoiding overstimulation because these dogs are smart and once a negative association is made, it takes a long time of reconditioning to change thier minds. Like I said, they are NOT for everyone. They take ALOT of work.

Another note, although it is generally OK to exercise a young dog, it is not recommended to hike seriously with a dog under 1 year old -- for the med sized breeds. Longer for the largers. It usually goes like this:

Puppy Owner: "I want to hike with my puppy!"

Veterinarian: "Great! I wish more people were like you"

When in reality:

Puppy Owner: "I want to hike ten to fifteen miles on rugged terrain and gain about 3000 feet of elevation with my puppy, exposing him to obstacles like ladders, fallen trees, flat rock, big boulders, high winds, all sorts of weather conditions, unknown dogs and people, and my puppy may be off leash and will probably double my distance"

Veterinarian: "Well if that is what you meant, wait one year so I can get some definitive hip xrays for you, follow a gradual conditioning plan, and begin a sport like agility or sheep herding so a trained professional can help you along the way".

This seldom happens in reality. Many people learn the hard way and the dogs pay the ultimate price. I realize this may be an unpopular statement , but I've seen it happen in the hiking world, the agility world, the herding world....and so on...be informed, follow the guidelines, be really concise with your vet about what you are doing, be prepared to pay some money for some extra vet stuff if you are starting out with a younger dog and plan to complete the 46 with them, and then some. Your dog is an athelete, and "normal dog" rules no longer apply, make sure your vet knows your goals in detail. You may just spare your pup later injuries and lots of pain, and ensure yourself a well conditioned hiking dog for many, many years if you *wait and do the right thing for your dog*, even if that means leaving them home on harder/longer hikes until they are ready.

About two years ago I was invited to a three day seminar on dog structure and conditioning and to use my dog as a demo. It was a great opportunity for me because I never would have been able to afford to go otherwise, and never would have heard of such a clinic if I hadn't been involved in a training club. Some of the cases I saw broke my heart -- specifically the young larger breeds that had been taken for long "hikes in the woods" since four months or so. Dogs that were cripples by the time they were two or three years old. Dogs that looked like they were old beyond thier years. Sad. I learned alot. It really changed the way I approached hiking with my own dog, who was an example of a sound dog -- knock on wood. These may have been extreme examples, but my feeling is, why take the chance?

And then there is all the training. Its a relationship built on trust, leadership, and good clear communication. To me its the most rewarding part of my relationship with my dog, because its what creates the dialogue between us, the language that helps us understand eachother. And I'm not talking "sit, down" etc, I'm talking about a structured way of life -- a working relationship that extends to all areas of day to day life together.


Off the soapbox.

A good dog can be the best thing to happen to you -- glad you are taking it so seriously and making sure.
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