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Hiking with a sheltie

Discussion in 'Sheltie Chat' started by Pam, Jul 14, 2018.

  1. Pam

    Pam Forums Enthusiast

    Mar 4, 2017
    So my family is going on vacation and we love to hike--long hikes. I am trying to figure out what Beau can/should be able to handle and how best to equip/take him. Usually I have boarded him but given the recent outbreak of kennel cough at the facility we like I decided to take him and luckily the Air BnB we rented has a dog run plus lots and lots of outdoor space.

    So advice, I can use all the helpful info I can get? Can he carry a backpack with a small water bottle? He has worn one before--and he is a big, muscular sheltie (19+ " and about 35 lbs--sheer muscle). Should I have something like a cooling vest?
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2018
  2. Caro

    Caro Moderator

    Jan 14, 2009
    Canberra, Australia
    Beau's a sheepdog - he'll be thinking can you keep up with him! Obviously the usual caveats about heat apply. When we used to hike in summer I would offer the dogs water every 15 - 30 mins (depending on how hot it was - I live in a very dry climate). They could choose if they wanted to drink but at least the offer was always there.

    I am not a fan of backpacks. I admit I tried it when my dogs were young, when CM was touting it as the best big thing to work your dog. Having a dog with early onset arthritis maybe I was more acutely aware of putting unnecessary weight on the back. But I thought it through and realised - dogs are not horses, and this was doing more damage. Dogs have not been bred to carry weight on their backs and have a strap compressing their ribs (which can inhibit big breaths). Backpacks in humans are different because we stand upright so weight distribution is different. And of course in horses there's been lots of research done on saddles and optimal weights. There's been a lot of research into human backpacks too. I couldn't find any research into dog backpacks - atm design is all about aesthetics. But I did find a lot of web images of dogs walking with back-packs pretty clearly show signs of stress.

    The other reason I don't like backpacks on Shelties specifically - Sheltie fur is angled to allow air to catch under the coat and circulate, keeping them cool and ensure skin health. I think compressing their fur while exercising could potentially impede their ability to regulate their temp in summer with their thick coat.

    Sorry - that's my rant about dog back-packs. Enjoy your hiking!
    ghggp, Pam and Hanne like this.
  3. Cindy

    Cindy Premium Member

    May 19, 2008
    San Francisco Bay Area, CA
    Footwear single track is harness with small saddlebags. It can't hold much, but harness has carry handle. Webmaster harness is also useful.
  4. Pam

    Pam Forums Enthusiast

    Mar 4, 2017
    Ok, so no backpack--no problem. My vet actually suggested it as a way to keep him calm during walks. I used it with almost no weight in it last summer, and it did seem to calm him--almost like a thunder vest but considering the heat, etc I will pass this time.

    What about cooling vests? Also, any particular harnesses with backhandles for climbing recommended?
  5. RikyR

    RikyR Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2013
    Baton Rouge LA
    Check out ruffwear.com They have a complete line of harnesses for all type of situations. They even have a cooling vest, but I think you need to have their harness for it to work. Not cheap, but they are very high quality. I have a basic design for 3 years, and is still in like new condition.
  6. JacqueZ

    JacqueZ Forums Enthusiast

    Oct 4, 2012
    Akron, Ohio
    Honey loves 4 and 5 hour walks, with small breaks here and there, they'll keep going as long as you do. They're also part mountain goat. I was terrified while hiking up a slippery trail full of steep ups and downs in vermont, but Honey thought it was the best day ever.
    Caro and Pam like this.
  7. ghggp

    ghggp Moderator

    Aug 28, 2011
    Grosse Pointe, Michigan
    As always, Caro, very insightful information!
  8. Caro

    Caro Moderator

    Jan 14, 2009
    Canberra, Australia
    There's a lot of amazing cliffs on the Shetland Islands, so mountain goat is probably in their blood.

    I wouldn't use a cooling vest hiking. Same caveats about weighing the coat down and not letting air circulate. But specifically, the cooling coats are meant to take heat away from the body, and I found my cooling mats actually got hot after a while, so they aren't really practical for long hikes. After a hike my dogs love nothing more than laying on the cool earth in a shady spot - nature's cooling mat.

    I used a very light-weight harness for hiking. It's ruffwear - but they don't make it any more (it doesn't have the chest plate, which I prefer). I've had it about 10 years and it's still in great condition so Ruffwear is worth the initial outlay. As for handles - useful if you need the dog to pull you up...:wink2:
    JacqueZ likes this.
  9. Hanne

    Hanne Forums Enthusiast

    Nov 13, 2014
    Absolutely amazing advice from Caro about hiking :yes:

    - around cooling mats, you should really be aware that they become extremely hot in the sun.

    By luck I discovered it before it was too late !! :uhoh:

    We have had an exceptionally hot spring / summer this year

    Since Minnie is always with me in the car, I thought a cooling mat would be comfortable in her cage.

    - one day, we stopped, I'd just go for a short trip with her before we drove on

    - the sun had moved and shined now into her cage,

    - fortunately I wanted to move the mat a bit so she could lie well
    The mat were so hot that I felt I really had burned my hand :gaah

    Think if i just had hurried to put her in the cage and drive on - i dare not think about it :mad1:

    So now it's all over with a cooling mat in her cage !!!!!
    Oliver&Calypso'sMom and JacqueZ like this.
  10. Pam

    Pam Forums Enthusiast

    Mar 4, 2017
    Thanks for the advice. Well, I saved money on a cooling vest :)
    Here is one harness Ruffwear makes--it seems to have more open chest than some others. Is this somewhat like what you use?
    or more like this?

    I've actually been thinking for quite awhile about trying this one, it is very open

    Since Beau doesn't like his harness (and I have tried several), a new one to try might be in order. He has been using the Perfect Fit, which isn't--as no pattern of the 3 pieces actually fit him all that well--and it seems like it would be quite warm as it is fleece everywhere.

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