hiking with dogs boris and beorn

Hiking with Dogs: a Digital Portrait on the Trail

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hiking with dogs boris and beorn
My dogs enjoyed the view on the Idaho / Montana border.

Hiking with dogs is one of the highlights of every summer.

Here is a digital painting I just finished of Boris and Beorn on one of our summer hikes in the mountains along the north Idaho / Montana border. The dogs are fashionable and ready for adventure in their Ruffwear dog packs.

Including a background scene in this painting was obviously an important aspect of the image. I usually create pet portraits with a minimal background. I do this in order to keep the focus on the subject. If you have a special request for a background with your order, please let me know and I’ll be happy to include it.

The Missus and I love to go hiking with dogs. And our two big guys love to go hiking as well. Boris loves it because next to eating, going on walks and hikes is his favorite thing. Beorn loves it because The Missus is going, and he’s a complete and utter Momma’s boy. And we love it because we love taking our dogs fun and interesting places.

Home Turf vs. Mountain Hikes

For us, there are lots of similarities between hiking at home and hiking in the mountains. Living in a rural area, I hike with the dogs every day, so they’re used to trails, forests, and fields. We’re always coming across wild animals on our walks. Deer are common. Elk are less so. And every so often we encounter a moose. We’ve seen coyotes, bobcats, bears, eagles, owls and hawks. The occasional porcupine can make things interesting as well, but the dogs seem to have learned their lesson in that regard (at least I hope so).

I don’t leash the dogs when hiking at home. It’s our home turf, and they know the area quite well and tend to stick to the trail, or near to it.

Hiking in the mountains is a little bit different than hiking with dogs at home. Our normal hikes are day excursions, not overnight. So we don’t have to bring a full load of overnight gear. I usually bring standard hiking gear (map, compass, first aid kit, etc.) and some other items that might be needed.

While home hiking we don’t use leashes, but when hiking with dogs in the mountains, we bring them, even if we don’t always use them. That said, we are always conscientous toward other hikers, and will always grab our dogs and leash up when other hikers approach.

If you want to take your dog hiking, backpacking, or camping, here’s an article I found with lots of good advice.

Hiking with dogs who pull their weight

Our dogs don’t just frolic and play on these hikes. They have to work as well. We have some great dog packs for our boys. A few years ago, we purchased a couple extra-large RuffWear dog packs. We love ‘em. The dogs do to.

Well, to be precise, Beorn LOOOOOOVES his dog pack. As a Bernese Mountain Dog, carrying loads and helping out is in his blood. He loves having a job to do.

Beorn LOVES his Ruffwear pack.

Boris is a bit more of a free-spirit and would rather be unencumbered. But he adapts just fine to the extra burden. Now that he’s blind, it’s not even an issue because he’s not nearly as venturesome as before.

The dogs bring their own snacks in their Ruffwear packs, along with whatever else we think they might need (water, collapsible bowl, etc.).

The hikes we prefer are trails that lead to mountain lakes. Our dogs love a refreshing swim after a long hike up a trail, and we like to give them a nice reward for being good hiking dogs.

Now that summer is here, it’s time to start planning some mountain excursions with our dogs!

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