Mr. N is usually the smallest dog on the trail. I’ve had people ask if we carried him up and I reply that he considers that an insult. I never have to pick him up unless we’re around horses. He finds them irresistible.
He weighs about seven pounds soaking wet and he has hiked for twenty miles and still wanted to keep going. Small dogs are perfectly capable of hiking if they are healthy and in shape.
|Getting ready to hike Latourell Falls|
I find that hiking with a small dog is not much different than hiking with a big dog. We usually go hiking with Sage (Border Collie/Kelpie) and Sage’s human doesn’t do or pack anything different than I do usually except for extra water for Sage. Mr. N has absolutely no problem keeping up with Sage. In fact, he usually wants to walk ahead of her.
In the car, I try to remember to keep a spare towel and water-less shampoo because Mr. N is often filthy after hiking. Hazard of being close to the ground. He currently wears a Seresto collar to ward off fleas and ticks.
Mr. N is walked on a harness anyway because of the risk of collapsed trachea (various toy breeds are prone to this) but a harness is especially handy on hikes. I’ve had to haul Mr. N up by his harness because he tried to dive off a cliff in pursuit of a squirrel.
I don’t think boots are necessary for normal hikes unless you’re hiking somewhere extremely rocky, your dog has soft paw pads or you’re hiking for extended periods. Mr. N walks on pavement all the time so his pads are pretty hardy.
If your small dog isn’t used to hiking, I would start with short and easy hikes to build up stamina before tackling harder ones. And keep an eye out to make sure they’re not overheated or too tired. Watch for wildlife (hawks, coyotes, etc.) and inspect their paws and fur afterwards to check for burrs, other vegetation or rocks.