Hiking With A Puppy An Owners Guide


Can I Take My Puppy On A Hike

It’s great to take a puppy on a hike, however, there are limitations to this and lots that will need to be addressed before thinking about taking your puppy hiking. It’s important to include your puppy in daily activities with you and hiking is an amazing activity to do with your pooch. 

It’s important to introduce your dog to the outdoors as a puppy, ensuring they have had all their jabs, this will be a good way to produce an outdoors dog. Because puppies are still within the growth phase of their life, they should not have much strenuous exercise as we have highlighted in our article “How Much Exercise Does A Dog Need Everyday”. To give owners the information they need I have separated this article into various sections, which will give you the knowledge needed to protect your puppy and allow you to take them on a fun day out.

What Age Can A Puppy Hike

This is probably one of the most important details required before taking your puppy hiking. As mentioned above a puppy is still in the growth phase of their life and any sort of strenuous activity can cause long-lasting harm, this is why it is important not to over-exercise them too young.

Although this subject may sound simple and you are probably waiting for me to say some magic number, this is not the case. Every dog is different, breed, age, size, athletic capability, diet. The American Kennel Club emphasizes that dogs will require different exercise routines based on many variables, many experts are in agreement that over-exercise is bad for a puppy, but just how much exercise is still not fully understood. The Kennel Club UK reaffirms the notion that 5 minutes exercise for every month of age is the upper limit, this can be done on two separate occasions in a day.

As I previously mentioned there is much still dependent on breed, age, size, athletic ability, or diet. Most dogs should be able to walk to this sort of exercise plan, but that’s not going to help you even if you only want a short hike.

Another important detail involves protecting your puppy against any diseases, this is something that is common regardless of whether your planning on hiking. Being out in the wild, hiking across an environment mostly used by native animals, diseases can be easily caught and spread. Some misunderstanding around puppy vaccinations is that they are only done to protect against other dogs, this is not true. There are a few types of diseases that can be spread not only by dogs but by other wild animals and also by the environments around us, including rivers and lakes.

There is not a strict schedule as to when your puppy needs vaccinating, but between 8 and 12 weeks is the most common time. If your puppy is not vaccinated then you will need to be extra vigilant and I would probably not recommend taking them on a hike unless you plan to carry them the whole time. Check out our article on “When Can a Puppy Go Outside In The Garden”, this has information on vaccinations and what diseases they protect against.

puppy hiking

How Far Can A Puppy Hike In A Day

Distance again is a tough question as it will depend on the variables mentioned above. If your puppy is still young you should concentrate your efforts on following the 5-minute rule, this way you will not be harming your dog and they will have many more years of hiking in front of them.

When your puppy or adult dog for that matter goes on a hike with you, off lead walking is much more beneficial to them than being on the lead. However, because your dog is off lead they are going to be running around and exerting themselves a lot more than you.

Most owners will gauge a dog’s tiredness by their own standards, they will assess how tired they are and come to the conclusion that their dog is more athletic than they are, meaning they can go longer. This is not the case and you must monitor how much running your dog does during a hike, puppies are excitable little creatures and will exert themselves to the max, before you know it they have over-exercised.

The distance a puppy can hike in a day will be determined by how old they are using the 5-minute rule and whether they are off lead or on lead. Even if your pooch is not looking tired, their joints could be suffering and so it’s going to be a good idea to take a break, or even carrying them for a bit.

How To Train Your Dog To Hike Off-Leash

As I highlighted above, having your dog off-leash is an amazing opportunity for both obedience training and giving your puppy some much-needed freedom. Puppies will act on impulse and intuition, hiking can be a great opportunity to train your puppy providing there are no livestock or other distractions nearby. This training should be focussed on recall, either introducing or improving on previous training.

The idea of training your puppy whilst on a hike is to do with the association, although it is highly recommended that your puppy knows some basic recall, and please make sure there is nothing nearby which is going to cause your puppy to disappear into the distance. It can be a good idea to use a long leash, which stretches 10 even 20 meters if there is space. Training them in this environment can help them get used to the environment, hiking can involve strange textures, smells, and experiences, which are all new to a puppy.

Recall training is one of the best ways to control your dog whilst off lead. I’ve also written an article on “How To Train Your Dog Off Lead”, this contains some great tips and advice for those new to having a dog off lead. it may seem daunting at first but it’s worth it to have your dog or puppy off lead whilst hiking.

How To Carry A Puppy On A Hike

Having established that puppies should not be over-exerted but at the same time its good to take them hiking, we need a way of taking them for long-distance treks whilst keeping them safe.

Whilst your puppy is small, it will be easier to carry them for long distances. There are a few ways to carry a puppy on a hike. Below I have outlined some of these methods so that you can try the ones best suited to both your puppy and your own ability.

Carrying Your Puppy By Hand

This is self-explanatory and something that most people can do depending on the size and weight of your puppy. Carry your pup with your hand fully supporting their bottom and keep them close to your chest, in many ways this can be difficult if you have a rather wriggly puppy.

There is also an issue with distance and terrain. If you have a puppy that is heavy you won’t be able to hike for long before needing to rest, arms and hands can start to ache which will most likely be the reason you stop. Another reason may involve terrain, so think about what your hiking route entails. If it requires some scrambling then having to hold a puppy will not be ideal as you will need your hands.

Hiking With A Puppy In A Backpack

If your thinking about hiking a long distance with your puppy, they are going to need to be carried at some point during the trip. Puppy carriers are a great way to comfortably carry your pup without the need for a rest. There are many designs available and some which are made for hiking, it’s up to you to choose the one that is going to support both you and your dog during your hike.

Most puppy carriers can be worn on the front or back and allow you to carry some other items too. If you do put your puppy on your back then you will lose sight of them which could be an important aspect, especially if they are very young. Small puppies can slip into the backpack, which may cause breathing difficulty or discomfort. Try checking your pooch often to make sure they are ok, you could even try feeding them some very small treats over your shoulder when you want to check on them.

Can You Over Exercise A Puppy

Hiking can offer some great benefits to your puppy’s life and seeing the outdoors is one of them. However, despite this energetic zest for life, puppies still have their limitations and exercise is one of them.

Exercise and general physical activity should be carefully monitored whilst your puppy is still growing. The main damage to be aware of involves your puppies’ growth plates. These growth plates are made up of cartilage yet to form into solid bone. Growth plates are located at the end of long bones and are the last part of the bone to form, this is what makes them easy to damage. A study included in the Journal of Veterinary and Animal Research found that growth plates finished forming at approximately 36 weeks. This study used 8 male and 8 female puppies, monitored over the course of 48 weeks. Using this research it would be advisable to limit the amount of excessive activity your puppy does in the early stages of their life, at least until they are 9 months or older. It’s important to remember that all dogs will grow differently, some will take longer to finish growing.

Camping With a Puppy

Hiking with a puppy may involve an overnight stay, wherever that may be. In some ways, you may think that camping with a puppy is something you shouldn’t do, because of how young they are and whether you both will get any sleep. Of course, there are those negatives to think about, but with some positives thrown in. Hiking can be a tiring business, especially for a young puppy, so an overnight stay will help to recharge those batteries.

Camping with a puppy is not a walk in the park so here are some tips for camping with a puppy.


Young puppies tend to push the boundaries a bit more than older dogs and this is all about their own learning experience. As most owners know training is an important phase of having a dog and something that every owner will go through.

Before thinking about spending a night in the middle of nowhere with an untrained puppy, try teaching them some basic commands. Think about what your puppy will be doing in the tent.

  • Toilet Training – So you locked in a tent as you don’t want your inquisitive pup to wander outside for an adventure of their own. If your pup needs the toilet they are probably going to do it inside the tent and I don’t know if you realize yet but tents don’t have much room in them….yuk. Toilet training can be hard but every advantage you can give yourself will help make your camping trip much more enjoyable. Basic toilet training you conduct at home should be effective enough to hopefully teach your puppy that outside is the place to go and they will wake you up to be let out. Whether your training works or not you still going to be woken up in the middle of the night.
  • Stay/Wait – These commands can come in handy when you’re going in and out of your tent. There is the option to tie your pup to a tree, but depending on where you decide to rest your head this may not work. Teaching the stay command is a great way to control your pooch especially when there is unwanted distraction happening around them. It’s important to realize that the command stay can be encompassed into the command sit, as your puppy will learn that to sit means to stay. It is advisable not to teach the command to sit and stay with the word come, as your puppy will think that this is the ultimate order they should perform this in. As an example, my golden retriever was taught the commands sit and down, which ultimately made him want to just lie straight down without sitting first. Below I a great video on the command stay and highlights the need not to use it, as it can be encompassed into the command sit.

On Your Bed – You can say this command however you want to, just be sure you are consistent with the same wording. Being trapped inside a tent can be a boring experience for a puppy and you will often find them wandering around the limited amount of space you have. To make the situation a little easier, teach your pup to lie down on their bed when commanded to do so. If space is an issue you can always put up a border around your tent to give your pup some wandering room. You can either use your natural surroundings or carry a plastic portable fence with you, even garden screening is an option if you don’t mind carrying something along with you. Plastic fences can be rolled up but are still awkward to carry. If you know your terrain I wound recommend building a barrier out of sticks, this could keep not only your pup inside the boundaries you set but also discourage wildlife from roaming too close.

These are some basic commands you should be teaching your puppy anyway and they can certainly come in handy when hiking and camping. Just be patient and your pup will get to grip with the commands you teach them, perhaps teaching them before you go is the best idea.

What To Take When Hiking With a Puppy

Hiking is an activity in which you need to be prepared, whether it is a leisurely hike or a multiple-day trek. Whatever you decide to do you should pack appropriately, especially when taking a puppy along with you. You should think about what to bring based on the itinerary of your hike, if you are taking a puppy with you you will need equipment that helps make them comfortable most importantly. below are some of the items you should think about before hiking with a puppy.

Long-Distance Hiking

Long-distance hiking is something I wouldn’t recommend doing with your pup. As I mentioned before, it’s great to establish a connection between your puppy and the outdoors, but there is not much need to spend all day hiking. If you do end up hiking miles from home, then pack plenty of water and food is essential for both you and your pup. you may even consider packing something soft for them to lie down on when you take a break.

Suggested Items include – 

  • Collapsible water bowl
  • Airtight or cold food container for your pup’s food
  • Foldable dog bed or blanket
  • Comfortable carrier, worth spending money on if your hiking long distance
  • First aid kit, bandages, or socks could come in handy if your pup gets injured.

Short-distance hiking can include these items too but just think about the route your taking and how long you are going to spend hiking with your puppy. this will strongly dictate what you need to take.


The terrain is one of the most important aspects of hiking, but many inexperienced hikers forget about this and solely focus on time spent, for example when the sunsets. Knowing and preparing for the type of terrain you are going to face will help your hike stay an enjoyable one.

  • Hiking can become strenuous on your feet especially on rough terrain and you will always benefit from good quality footwear. Think about the footwear that your puppy might need. Although you should not be letting them walk and run a huge amount their paws will not have developed any protection and are easily susceptible to injury. the last thing you want is to be stuck miles from home with an injured pup. Check out our article on some of the best dog boots for hiking. “Best Dog Boots For Hiking With Your Dog” 
  • The type of puppy carrier is important. If your planning on clambering over rocks you won’t want a front-facing one and if your planning on wading through waist height rivers or streams then a side waist type of carrier won’t do. I would recommend a backpack-style carrier as this tends to be more comfortable and can deal with many scenarios.


Weather is a vital part of planning for any kind of hike. you need to make sure you have all the correct gear for hiking in the rain, snow, wind, and heat. Below are some things you should take for each weather scenario.

Wet Weather Gear For Your Puppy 

  • Waterproof carrier
  • Umbrella for your carrier
  • Microfibre towels
  • Waterproof dog coat

Snow Gear For Your Puppy

  • Insulated dog boots
  • Warm blankets
  • Heat packs or water bottle

Windy Weather Gear For Your Puppy  

  • Sheltered hood for your puppy or dog carrier
  • Warm blankets to wrap up in

Hot Weather Gear For Your Puppy 

  • Shelter from direct sunlight
  • Dog boots for walking on the hot ground
  • Sun cream for dogs for short-haired breeds especially
  • Plenty of water

Planning is the best thing you can do before going hiking with a puppy and there is no set list of gear you need. just think about where you are going and what you will need, try to think of scenarios you would normally expect, and if you can take something that helps with that then do so. Most importantly remember that you are taking along with you a young puppy and the care for your dog should be most paramount, otherwise leave them at home where they will be safe.


Hopefully, you have enjoyed this article and are ready to get outside hiking with your puppy, be safe, and most importantly have fun. If you enjoyed this article then check out some of our other content from our homepage.




Dean Lissaman

As a child I grew up around dogs and have loved them ever since. I now have a beloved Golden Retriever who enjoys exploring the outside world. Being an outdoor enthusiast has inspired me to create the ultimate resource on relating both dogs and the outdoors. For more information on me check out my about page.

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