Bringing your four-legged friend as a hiking companion on the Chilkoot Trail is nothing new, but rules about dogs on the trail have changed since the days of the gold rush. Before embarking on a single day or multi-day hiking trip, dog owners should be aware of some of the following issues that their dogs may face while on the trail:
Rules for Dogs on the Chilkoot Trail
Due to safety issues for you, your dog, and other hikers, the following rules for bringing your dog on the Chilkoot Trail have been established:
Preparing Your Dog for the TrailIs your dog ready? You need to wait until a young dog’s bones are fully developed. That might be at a year of age, plus or minus several months, depending on size and other factors.
Does your dog need any specific vaccinations or preventative medicines? In the city, you might not worry about things like your dog drinking water in a contaminated lake or pond. Ask your veterinarian about preventative measures for outdoor destinations.
Is your dog’s immune system ready? Factoring in the rate of natural immunity development and your dog’s vaccine schedule, your veterinarian can advise you about the safe age for your dog to hit the trail.
Leave No Trace: Humans and dogs have the same Leave No Trace rule on the Chilkoot Trail: Pet waste must be picked up and disposed in an established toilet facility or packed out. Due to the prolific distribution of cultural resources and artifacts along the Chilkoot Trail, “cat holes” are prohibited in the park.
Start a trail-training regimen: Ease your dog into the routine of hiking. Start with hikes of an hour or so, and then track the dog’s energy level afterwards. If your dog is still super active, increase the time for the next training hike. Your goal is to work up to the amount of trail time you plan to do on future day hikes or backpacking trips.
The all-important dog pack: It’s not the only gear your dog needs, but it separates going on a walk from going on a hike. Getting the fit right and getting your dog accustomed to the pack are your most important tasks.
How to Fit a Dog PackMeasure the circumference of your dog’s chest around the widest part of the rib cage. Most packs come in a range of sizes that will correspond to this measurement. Adjust all straps to ensure a snug, but not too tight, fit. Make sure the pack is snug enough that your dog can comfortably breathe but not so loose that it will slip off or chafe.
For pack training, start by having your dog wear it empty around the house and on walks. As soon as wearing the pack becomes routine, load in a few pounds evenly on each side. Gradually increase pack weight on each walk after that until you reach your target weight. A maximum of 25 percent of body weight is a rough guideline, but factors like age, size, and strength will alter that up or down.
Last updated: February 12, 2020