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Hi all!

Two questions - the first is about general exercise - how much is too much? Blue's 3.5 months old now - we took it slow going around the neighborhood and the park - letting him get familiar with things slowly adding new places, but not going too far. He's now perfectly secure going to the park and for walks through the neighborhood, but I've not been able to find any good guestimates online about how far he should go for his age. I've taken him on the route I take my grown dog and he seems to do fine - are there physical risks in pushing him too far? He gets a little whiney toward the end, but he's a whiney boy (although, I think I may have just answered my question - I'll cut a block out of the walk so we get home before he gets cranky).

Does anyone have some guestimates about the distances a puppy should be able to go at certain ages? Specifically at 17 weeks we're going to Moab for some hiking. And at about 22 weeks we'll be going on a camping trip that will involve some hiking and by about 9 months the weather will be ready for some mountain backpacking.

And about the backpacking - how soon can I start him carrying a pack? Should I wait till he's full grown? Or could we start small weight training while he's still growing? I don't mind carrying his stuff right now - dogs pack a LOT lighter than humans ;-), but in time I'd like him to carry his own kit.

Thanks a million in advance!

~L'aura
 

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Hey there, my pack animal is the Phantom. When I had Liberty and Patriot, as with the Phantom, all walks were limited to under five miles (taking into consideration elevation gain and terrain) until they were 6 months. None of them carried a full pack until they were a year old.

The summer I had Liberty as a puppy just about killed me. So I put a backpack on backwards and would hike with her in it. Not fun, but it worked.

Make sure you get a good pack, don't cheap out or you'll get very frustrated from the pack slipping or chaffing. I found a decent one at REI. The Phantom carries her food, a bowl, a nylabone, frisbee and extra leash.

Good luck, have fun and post pictures.

P.S. Make sure you are aware if you are in bear, mountain lion or eagle/hawk country especially with small dogs.
 

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WOW!!! FIVE MILES! Sweet! I thought I was going to have to keep it under a mile or something! That opens up a LOT of doors!

Do you backpack much? Do you find the dogs need a sleeping pad (Thermarest)? My old Max just had a flannel blanket to lay on and seemed fine, but Mollie our Pit mix shivers all night unless she's bundled up between my girlfriend and I (we've decided she's probably not a camping dog and will be left with friends in the future). So I'm left wondering if I should get something more than a blanket for Blue or not.

Also, any stories about bear, mountain lion, or eagle encounters with dogs? A couple of the places we frequent are bear territory. We've never seen anything and will have 'bear bells' on Blue (say THAT three times real fast!), but beyond that I'm not sure what else to do.

Thanks!

~L'aura
 

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I've read many warnings about over-exerting pups until their bones close after about 12 months. I would be very hesitant to place a pack on a puppy, even a partially loaded one, until the bones fully matured. Hip dysplasia and elbow problems are bad enough without tempting fate.

I don't know what constitutes "over-exertion" exactly. I limit Sugar's walks to 1/2 mile. The only reason I walk her at all is for leash training. Otherwise, she gets her exercise playing in the backyard with her playmate where she's free to rest whenever needed.
 

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Daily long walks provide excellent toning and conditioning for your dog's muscles and joints. Trail hikes are great because the ground is less impactive than the sidewalk or street. Running and jumping should be limited for young pups. Your pup is at greater risk for joint injury racing around in the backyard than on walks or hikes. One of my foster puppies broke his leg playing with some other dogs!

Chama, who is almost 13, has been hiking daily with me since I brought her home at 5 weeks. I lived in New Mexico at the time, up in the foothills of the Sandia mountains. Initially I would carry her most of the way but she was walking the whole way (4 miles) on her own by about 8 weeks. She went on her first backpacking trip (in Southern Colorado) when she was 3 months old. I waited to put a pack on her until she was over a year.

Most people--including vets--are shocked to hear Chama's age. Although she know has arthritis she remains very muscular and still walks with me 1-3 miles each day (divided into 2-3 walks).
 

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Under six months, we usually did three or four miles. We built up the miles until each pup is able to do 8 - 12 miles (depending on elevation gain).

I brought a sweet pack/tent/bag set up, a Jeep and my dog all to enhance my hiking/camping/backpacking love. I got into SchH last year and since The Phantom was still under a year we didn't do many trips. We did get in some time in the Rockies and Catskills. I would love to plan a long trek to Washington and Alaska. I may not come back though.

I barely pack a pillow for myself and will unzip my bag to let the Phantom crawl in and snuggle. We fit very nicely in a two person tent.

NY: A turkey buzzard almost picked off my friends Chihuahua (sp?) out of her back yard. The closest I came to a bear was at a stream. I smelled its musty scent and my two sheps went into high alert.
CO: Mountain lions prefer small breeds sans collars as appetizers. There are signs reinforcing this along paths close to town (Boulder). I was so close to an Elk I could hear it snorting but couldn't see it in the brush. I was pretty dam scared.

So far with the Phantom our trips have been pretty tame. I can't wait for our first trip.

I'm doing (wo The Phantom) an eight day backpack trip along Big Sur in May. I wish I could bring her so I'll spend the summer making it up with trips to the Upper Penn in Michigan, Poconos and maybe the Smoky Mtns.
 
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