Camping And Hiking With Your Dog 7


hiking-with-your-dogThe great outdoors appeals to millions of Americans. Every summer they pile into cars and head for the national parks to enjoy hiking, swimming, picnics, and camping. Camping and hiking with your dog can be a lot of fun. If your Chihuahua joins the family for camping trips, he should be healthy and in good shape. Leave older or sickly dogs home with family members or friends or in a reliable boarding kennel.

Dogs terrified of thunder should stay home too. A sudden storm with booming thunder or crackling lightning that sweeps through the campsite may cause your dog to flee in panic. Tracking him down in strange territory may be impossible, especially in the pouring rain.

Your dog’s license and ID must be current in the unlikely event that he becomes separated. Vaccinations should also be up to date. Check campgrounds before traveling to them to make sure that pets are allowed. Some may require an additional charge. It depends on the park. If travel to the campground requires an overnight motel stay, call a few chains to see which ones are pet friendly. Be alert and not caught off guard with no place to room with your Chihuahua.

Always check the camp’s pet policies. Some campgrounds are privately owned. Others are on government property. Pet-friendly cabins may be limited. As a rule, dogs are allowed in most campsites, but some prohibit breeds with a known history of aggression. If your dog barks excessively or is disruptive, management may ask you to leave.

Nearly all campgrounds require dogs to be leashed or on tie-outs. Tying them to a stakeout at a campground for a few hours is acceptable. Camp policy prohibits leaving your dog unattended, however. Pet theft happens everywhere, so someone in your party must always watch your Chihuahua. If you sleep in a tent at night, your dog should be snuggled next to you. Do not leave him alone outside. Wild animals such as bears sometimes roam through campgrounds in searching for food.

In the summer, locking a Chihuahua inside a car or recreational vehicle is dangerous. Temperatures can rise rapidly in just minutes. Heatstroke, kidney failure, and even death can occur in a very short time. Always look for a safe alternative.

Determine the length of your camping trip and pack your dog’s supplies accordingly. Among the items he will need are:

  • food, bottled water, and treats
  • food and water bowls
  • bedding and toys
  • leash and tie-out
  • towels
  • medication if applicable
  • dog first-aid kit
  • crate
  • plastic poop bags
  • current photo (in case he gets lost)

Camping trips can be wonderful. It is a chance for family and friends to bond with your Chihuahua.
With a little bit of planning, your Chihuahua can be part of the festivities too.


Chihuahuas generally enjoy snoozing on the couch or cuddled up next to their owners in the reclining chair. Hiking through a state park or jogging for 6 miles is not a typical Chihuahua activity. Strenuous outdoor activity such as jogging taxes their small bodies. Healthy Chihuahuas, however, can enjoy short relaxing walks with their owners. They can stroll along city streets, leafy pathways in the park, or the boardwalk at the shore. Just do not expect your Chihuahua to exercise with the same vigor as a Border Collie. Understand his physical limitations and both of you can spend quality time outdoors.

There is an alternative, however, for avid hikers to spend quality time outdoors with their Chihuahuas. Buy a suitable canvas pouch to carry your Chihuahua and you both can hike up to mountain summits! Always carry water. Your dog may get thirsty. Portable canvas water bowls are available at pet stores or where camping gear is sold.

If you walk your dog in the winter, dress him in a coat, sweater, or sweatshirt. Chihuahuas do not tolerate the cold, but dressed appropriately they can still enjoy a short brisk walk. Exercise keeps them fit and trim. Be careful in the summer. Never force your Chihuahua to walk in the midday sun. Take him out in the early morning or after dark. The sizzling sun heats up the pavement. In some places like the desert southwest, the sidewalk can burn a dog’s pads.

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7 thoughts on “Camping And Hiking With Your Dog

  • Brittany

    Just curious…you seem to suggest that certain things are past a chihuahuas limitations as far as strenuous hiking and mountain summits, etc. I figured that would be the case with my 9 lb. chihuahua when we started hiking with him. I live in the Smoky Mountains and it has become his main source of exercise after we found out that he absolutely loves it. Our first hike was up the summit of Looking Glass Rock off the Blue Ridge Parkway when he was a little older than he year. We planned on carrying him when he got tired and we waited for it…..never happened!!! That little guy climbed the whole hike with us and never tired, he drank plenty of water and ate with us. We were almost to the top and saw an older couple carrying their blue heeler back down the mountain (may have been old, but much larger than our dog!) Scout (our dog) ran ahead of us most of the time, but always stopped and waited or ran back for us anytime he was almost out of sight. Seemingly the perfect hiking companion and a very obedient, alert listener – which hadn’t always been the case at home when he was younger. My point is that his energy levels almost seemed to continually renew themselves throughout the hike, recharging only on his love for his surroundings and the curiosity of nature’s adventure, all the way up and back down the mountain. He never quit charging ahead full speed and certainly never lagged behind or even gave the slightest hint of being worn out until the day was done and he slept blissfully and happily satisfied on the car ride back home. So my question is, are some chihuahuas more capable and natural hikers than others? I feed him a clean/raw grain free diet which might also contribute to this but hadn’t even started that until he turned 2. I feel confident that he will always let me know if something is too much for him but he never has! Wondering if some chihuahuas are just “prissier” than others based on genetics and nurturing/training?

    • Abigail

      Would love to know what you feed your chihuahua? I am an avid hiker and looking to adopt a chihuahua mix that I could ideally take hiking with me. I understand most of what’s in grocery stores is garbage for dogs so looking for good clean alternatives that I can feel good about feeding to her. Thanks!!

  • Margaret fields

    We have a 6pound chihuahua and we live in the smokey mountains ,she love to hike with us and our other 3 dogs all bigger then her and she goes the hole 6-8 hours were hiking!!!!!

  • Lisa

    I was about to add that my chi runs the woods (from Appalachia here too) with a pack made up of a great pyr, wiemeriner and an English Shepard. We’ve not hiked with her yet but she and her pack play and hike our property all day long. I’ve never seen her energy less than theirs.

    It’s either a myth that chihuahuas aren’t physical, that some just aren’t physical or that something about Appalachia turns chihuahuas into Labradors.

    Insightful article however.

  • Liz

    My 8 lb chihuahua hikes 3-7 miles through the mountains with me and seems to love. He gets water breaks and snacks along the way. He seems rejuvenated and happy to have a bath after and then a nice long nap:) he does not; however, do well when the temps get too high. He lets me know by simply stopping and sitting. He gives the signal pretty readily that it isn’t for him. When the temps are too high he stays home and just gets shorter walks.

  • Cyrille

    I have a 7 year old chihuahua, 5-6 lb, whom I have been hiking with for many years, and he loves it so much. He manages hikes with 2600 vertical ft up and down again without stopping, even on difficult rocky terrain.
    We can also run 6-9 miles in the woods (no flat terrain either) with very few stops. He impresses me every time!
    Our record is running down a 1,300 feet-high moutain down to sea level in just 9 minutes! I can barely keep up with him, he just flies!

    On longer hikes, I take a special chihuahua backpack so he can rest or even sleep comfortably. He also lets me know he is tired by stopping and looking at me.

    No extra food on these trips, only some water.

    Great to hear about other mountain chihuahuas!

  • Carole

    From the UK…. I have a 4kg 5 yr old female chi (Maya/ex-puppy farm breeding bitch!) – she absolutely adores long walks and has loads of energy. It’s easy to know when enough is enough and not a problem to carry her if that were ever the case – so far though, that hasn’t had to happen. As a breed I think they have way more bravery/charm/energy than I would have ever believed prior to becoming an owner. As a companion for my elderly labrador Tess, she is perfect. We all go for slow walks together twice a day (slow is the only speed Tess can do now = arthritic 11 yr old) and I’m teaching myself that Tess is fine being left at home afternoons for her siesta while Maya and I hike. So good to hear everyone’s stories.