Hiking with Small Dogs


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.

I take the following on day hikes: small first aid kit, a small H204K9 water bottle, a fleece and/or raincoat depending on the weather, or his cooling vest during the summer and high protein treats.

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.




33 Responses

  1. To Dog With Love

    September 12, 2014 10:18 am

    We wholeheartedly agree! Rocco hasn't had to wear boots yet either, but we bring all the same supplies that you do… especially the extra towels. We have waterless shampoo at home, but we usually bring Earthbath wipes along with us on the road for clean up.
    Your pals,
    Diane and Rocco

  2. Emma

    September 12, 2014 11:27 am

    That is awesome that you get to hike. So many people own a small dog because they don't want to have to walk their dog but that is so wrong. You little ones need just as much exercise as bigger dogs. I know our tiny friend Buddy never got walked at home but at our house he was a walking rockstar and always kept up with Katie and I. Great job and good for your mom! Thanks for joining the hop!

  3. SlimDoggy

    September 12, 2014 1:38 pm

    I'm so glad you make the point that small dogs can exercise. They aren't as frail as people think and Mr. N. is a shining example of that! Look at how proud of himself he is in those photos!

  4. Beth

    September 12, 2014 3:08 pm

    This is such a great post! All of the little dogs I have ever interacted with have been dogs their owners consider "lap dogs" and I never really felt connected to that type of dog, but Mr. N has totally changed my perspective of little dogs! I used to think that if I ever got a second dog, I'd need a big one that could keep up with Barley, but now I'm open to dogs of all sizes 🙂

  5. Lauren Miller

    September 13, 2014 6:13 am

    We love hiking, too! My girls are not as little as Mr. N but I consider them to be small/medium. 😀 I've hiked with friends who own chihuahuas and they keep up just as good as the big dogs. 😀

  6. Sherri Telenko

    February 3, 2017 11:38 pm

    He looks naked without a coat. I've got a crazy terrier and yes, even at the age of 12, he can out hike just about anyone. I have to carry him occasionally, but usually in crowded places … but mine is 27 pounds, so he better walk back down the trail.

  7. Cathy Armato

    February 5, 2017 12:57 pm

    Mr. N is such a feisty dog! I love how brave and adventurous he is. It's so interesting about the horses, I wonder why he's so enthralled with them? Gorgeous photos in this post. I Pinned it to my Pet Travel board. I love all the great hikes you & Mr. N take! Thanks for sharing.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  8. Beth Patterson

    February 5, 2017 11:22 pm

    You and Mr. N are such an inspiration! My Yorkie (of long ago) would have had no trouble going on long hikes, but I didn't think of it. My spaniel mix was a great companion and was always happy to go for a hike.

  9. Katie A.

    February 6, 2017 5:23 am

    Great hiking tips! I had to get boots for Gracie- we have encountered metal stairs several times in Georgia state parks and the texture of the metal hurts her paws.

  10. Robin Mudge

    February 6, 2017 7:43 am

    Mr. N is one amazing little dog! I don't think he knows that he is little. He could definitely hike circles around me. It sounds like you put a lot of thought into preparing for Mr. N's outings, which is a wonderful thing! I wouldn't have thought of some of those things.
    -Purrs from your friends at http://www.PlayfulKitty.net


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