Whether you are completely new or highly experienced, camping and hiking with German Shepherds can be activities which require some planning, organisation and specific equipment/gear and information in order to make the experience enjoyable for both owner and dog.
Camping and Hiking With Your German Shepherd Dog: Top 11 Tips + Checklist
The good news about German Shepherds is that they are among the best dog breeds for both hiking and camping.
German Shepherds were originally bred to be an outside working and herding dog breed, and are both extremely well equipped both physically and mentally to thrive in outside environments.
Their intelligence and athleticism are great assets for any hiker or camper.
Below we have provided you with a checklist of items that any camper, hiker or outdoor lover with a dog will find useful when planning an outing or trip.
We’ve also got 11 of the best camping and hiking tips and advice for those with German Shepherd dogs, or dog breeds of any kind for that matter.
Camping and Hiking with Your German Shepherd Dog or Puppy: Checklist of Equipment, Gear and Supplies
When packing and preparing for a camping, hiking or outdoor adventure with your German Shepherd, it is far better to be over prepared than the alternative.
Here is a comprehensive list of items, equipment and camping/hiking gear that will have you covered for most situations you will encounter:
- Leash. Read about the Best German Shepherd Leashes and Leads.
- Harness (both a regular harness, and a car harness if you are travelling in a vehicle). Also, consider a car doggy seat protector for long drives. Read about the Best German Shepherd Harnesses.
- Collar (with your dog’s ID attached, and ALL your contact details. Read about the Best German Shepherd Collars.
- Treats/Dog biscuits and Treat Pouch
- Doggy Backpack with reflective material (great for hiking to store water, food, poop bags, sunscreen etc.). Only ever load your GSD with 25% or less of their overall bodyweight, and put loads towards the shoulders as opposed to the lower back. Read about the Best German Shepherd Backpacks.
- Basic First Aid Kit – sterile solution/disinfectant cream and bandages for cuts, antihistamines for stings and allergic reactions. Snake bite kit. Tweasers are handy for thorns and other foreign bodies. Any specific medication for your dog.
- Phone Numbers of nearest emergency departments. Let friends/family members know when and where you are going.
- Dog Food and Water. Read about the Best German Shepherd Wet and Dry Dog Food.
- Water Bowl and Food Bowl, including smaller water container for hikes and walks
- Specific medication for your German Shepherd or dog (allergy medication, supplements etc.), and flea and tick treatment/preventatives. Read about the Best German Shepherd Joint Supplements and Vitamins.
- Dog Bed and/or mattress. Read about the Best German Shepherd Dog Beds.
- Consider a Pet/Dog Tent if your GSD (German Shepherd Dog) isn’t sleeping in your tent.
- Dog toys
- A German Shepherd/Large Dog Life Jacket or flotation device if you are near or in water – oceans, lakes, rivers. Read about the Best German Shepherd Life Jackets.
- Extra blankets, and a dog coat/jacket if it’s cold where you are going
- Dog brush for removing dirt, bugs and small twigs for your GSD’s coat. Read about the Best German Shepherd Dog Brushes.
- Consider doggy sunscreen, doggy insect/bug repellant and dog booties/shoes for harsher terrain (cactus, thorns, sharp rocks)
- An old towel to wipe mud and other substances off your GSD
- Consider a collar light if you are adventuring at night
- Dog Poop Bags
- Antiseptic/Antibacterial wipes and disposable gloves
Camping and Hiking with Your German Shepherd Dog or Puppy: 11 Tips and Advice
1) Consider the Weather
Is the place you are going camping or hiking with your German Shepherd Dog or Puppy hot or cold? Is there much shade around? Is it going to rain, or is the area known for extreme weather events?
It is much more enjoyable for both your and your dog if its not extremely hot or cold, but make sure your take the right gear (coats, sunscreen, water, blankets etc.) for extreme weather.
2) Consider the Environment
What are the hazards of the environment you are going into? Are there any cliffs or mountains? Are there animals like bears, mountain lions, snakes, spiders, stinging insects? Is there any harmful or toxic/poisonous plant life that your dog might eat or get tangled with? Is it hunting season?
Your German Shepherd will be quite good at identifying animals before you do, but make sure you have preventions in place for hazards, and are aware of how to identify and treat snake bites for example on your dog.
3) Consider Your Dog Or Puppy
Is your German Shepherd either very young or getting old? German Shepherd puppies of only a few months old should be taken for extreme hiking or camping adventures.
The same goes for older GSDs who might be suffering from disease.
Understand the limitations of your dog and act accordingly. Ensure the hiking or adventure activity isn’t too long or taxing for your dog.
4) Vaccinations and Medication
Make sure you have had your dog’s basic vaccinations done like heartworms, and flea treatments/preventions. Is your dog allergic to anything? Does your GSD require supplements or vitamins for joint problems for example you need to take with you?
Read about the Best German Shepherd Flea Treatment and Control.
5) Obedience and Training
It REALLY helps, especially for hiking trails, if your GSD has a basic obedience and training understanding/foundation.
A dog that is undisciplined or not trained can be more trouble for outdoor adventure activities than its worth (which is the owner’s responsibility to resolve). Being able to sit, stay, stop, go, and walk on and off the leash make hiking and camping with your dog much easier.
6) Know The Rules and Regulations
Can dogs camp in the area you are going to? Are dogs allowed on the hiking trail you want to hike on? Do dogs have to be on the leash at all times where you are going camping or hiking?
Know all the rules, regulations and laws prior to taking off on your adventure.
7) Have Spare Gear/Equipment and Test Prior
It helps to have spare essential gear like leashes and collars in case a leash breaks. Also, test any new hiking or camping gear before you go.
You don’t want to get a new backpack for your German Shepherd and find out 5 minutes into your hike that it doesn’t fit properly, is faulty or irritates and chafes your German Shepherd.
8) Hike Early Or Later In The Day
Early morning or late afternoon hikes are generally most comfortable for your dog, especially in hot weather and for Long Haired German Shepherds.
9) Don’t Let Your Dog Drink Or Eat Bad Food/Water
Keep a close eye on what your GSD is eating and drinking at all times. Keep your GSD’s food in a safe place from contamination. Another very important tip is NOT to let your dog drink from bodies of water which can contain bacteria and parasites.
10) Check For Dehydration or Fever Periodically
Make sure your GSD is always getting enough water and is warm when required. A simple check you can do for dehydration is to pinch your dog’s skin on it’s neck and see how it reacts.
If it is too elastic and doesn’t bounce back quickly, your GSD may be dehydrated. Nausea, not eating, lethargy, shaking and heavy breathing are other symptoms of dehydration and fever.
11) Check Your German Shepherd Upon Return
Some owners like to get a vet check just to be safe. But, you can check your dog for cuts, bites, dehydration, muscle injuries and the like upon returning yourself.
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