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  1. #1
    Registered User Turner's Avatar
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    Default People who have thru hiked with a canine, some questions.

    I'm planning for a SOBO in June. I'm taking my dog, he is a very agile 50 pound husky/german shepherd mix. I wanted to ask for tips, specifically concerning technical sections in the North. Am I going to have to carry my dog through certain sections, or blue blaze, and what is a fair amount of food to carry, did you carry the majority of your dogs food, and how much extra money did you yourself spend on your canine? Any other advice would be greatly appreciated.

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    I'll start off by saying I am a dog lover. I met several dogs and their owners on the trail last year and almost every dog was well behaved and a joy to be around (some more so than their owners!).

    ME and NH has some very tough hiking, you will have to carry or lift your dog up and down off ledges, there's also some ladders further south on the trail which your dog may not be able to climb.

    Be prepared to either send your dog home and continue without him or be willing to quit your hike if your dog begins to suffer from the daily grind. Hopefully you know your dog well enough to recognize when that time comes.
    "Chainsaw" GA-ME 2011

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    If I'm not mistaken dogs are not allowed in certain parks that the trail runs through. Also extended hikes are.very hard on dogs. Have you ever taken him out for a couple of weeks or more?

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    Unless your dog is a service animal, you will have to make arrangements to meet it at Abol Bridge as no dogs in Baxter. Skipping baxter will save you and the dog a lot of stress as it is very rocky and most dogs would have to be lifted up and over boulders in many spots. From Abol Bridge you have a few days of nice easy hiking to get in shape but eventually you hit WhiteCap and thats where you will learn how well the dog is going to tolerate rocks and boulder scrambling. You have similiar terrain until Monson. As someone new to the trail and out of shape, its going to be a challenge to carry enough food for both you and the dog through the 100 mile wilderness . I would suggest seeing if you could get a drop off at Katahdin Iron Works (Borestone used to do this service). There will be spots in the Mahoosucs and the whites where you may have to lift your dog up and down steep spots. Some of the dog packs actually have a luggage grip sewn into the harness so that the dog can be lifted up. Do note that many dogs have issues in the Mahoosucs specifically Mahoosuc notch and the stretch from Full Goose shelter to Goose eye as that is an introduction to the NH granite that tends to be abrasive on dogs pads. You will already have encountered it on the Saddleback ridge so if your dog has issues at Saddleback, you may have to plan a yellow blaze (no viable blue blazes to avoid it). If there are issues in the Mahoosucs, the whites are worse on dogs with many reports of dogs wearing out their pads from Madison Hut to Mt Pierce. The up Mt Lincoln to Haystack is also somewhat infamous. Once you pass Glencliff the trail drops below treeline with occasional rocky outcroppings and if the dog has made it that far its has gotten in shape and the pads are toughend up.

    The other issue is that much of maine is remote, if your dog get lost or goes running after wildlife, the chances of the dog being found are slim.

    Do note northbounders have hiked the trails with their dogs many times but I expect like hikers less than 10% of the dogs that started make it to the end (I woudl expect far fewer. They have 4 or five months to get hardened for the Whites and Maine while you and your dog are jumping right in.

    A general comment is that with the exception of Blood mountain in GA, there isnt a stretch of equivalent trail to the Georgia AT in Me and NH north of Glencliff. The entire concept of swithbacks and sidehilling just wasnt in the mind of the folks who built the AT up north.

  5. #5

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    Your going to have some challenges right off. Woof-woof can't go into Baxter, so you'll have to find someone to look after him when you climb Katahdan. That could be 2 or 3 days in the park, unless your willing to do a really, really long and hard day.

    Then your going right into the 100 mile wilderness, which for someone just starting out will likely take close to the full 10 days. That means 10 days of food for both you and the dog. And the dog isn't going to be able to carry much, due to all the rock scrambling and swiming across rivers and what not. Plus he has to get used to all that walking, just like you do.

    For the most part, dogs can usually find an alturnative path up or down some of difficult scrambles, but not always. I can't see how a dog can get through the Mahoosuc notch or the rebarb ladders on Goose eye with out a lot of assist. That little 50 foot section on Goose eye could take a rope and harness to lower the dog down.

    Then there is the problem of the abrasive granite rock you will be hiking on much of the time - it tares up dog's paws in no time. You had best get booties now before it becomes a problem. Once it does become a problem you might as well go home.

    Oh and pray your dog does not encounter a Porkiepine. Those encounters do not go well for the dog. Thankfully, the're not nearly as common as they used to be since the Fishercat was re-introduced, but they are out there. Having to hike possibly a long way out of the woods with a dog which has a snoot full of painfull quils would not be fun. Nor would the couple hunderd bucks it would cost for a vet to remove them.

    If there is any way you can put off bringing the pooch along until you get through NH (or better yet, Vermont), it would avoid the states dogs have a real hard time traveling through. It could mean the difference between your having a long hike or a very short one.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

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    Quote Originally Posted by chip2012 View Post
    If I'm not mistaken dogs are not allowed in certain parks that the trail runs through. Also extended hikes are.very hard on dogs. Have you ever taken him out for a couple of weeks or more?
    Turner was very specific - "people that have thru with a dog" He was looking for experienced people with that information. Have you ever thru with a dog?
    If walking is good for your health, the postman would be immortal.

    Woo

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    Registered User Turner's Avatar
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    I thank you for what little advice you have given me seeing that none of you have thru hiked with a dog. Wise Old Owl I could kiss you. I asked specific questions because I'm well aware of everything you've said. I'm aware there are rough rocks, and technical little sections. Also I know there are parks where you can't bring your dog. I have Connie as mentioned in the AT Guide meeting me in Millinocket taking Tucker and bringing him back to me at Abol Bridge. I live 15 minutes away from Springer leaving us pretty experienced hikers so although we haven't traveled the Whites he does a 1.3 mile run on asphalt several times a week while I drive, giving him rock solid paws. According to my vet his half wolf and half german shepherd, he's gained 10 pounds since training and has in own personal first aid kit in my pack. As of now he can carry about 15 lbs of food and doesn't really like eating a huge meal after a long hike. Prefers larger breakfasts. He turns two in July and I know and better yet he knows his limits. I'm very well aware of the taxes that comes with bringing a dog with you on a thru hike. I'm not saying **** won't happen but I know how to handle my animal. I guess I messed up the question when I asked for other advice. My real concern was Goose eye, and Slo-go en' recommended a rope.

    If anyone who has thru hiked with a dog would like to tell me how they got passed that, that would be great.

    Thanks,
    Turner

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    Registered User jcazz's Avatar
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    You can bypass it by using the Success Pond Road. I don't remember my dogs having any trouble with that section. They've never needed booties but my dogs are used to Maine and NH -bring pliers for quills......some dogs learn and some do not, good luck. There is nothing like hiking with dogs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Turner View Post
    I'm planning for a SOBO in June. I'm taking my dog, he is a very agile 50 pound husky/german shepherd mix. I wanted to ask for tips, specifically concerning technical sections in the North. Am I going to have to carry my dog through certain sections, or blue blaze, and what is a fair amount of food to carry, did you carry the majority of your dogs food, and how much extra money did you yourself spend on your canine? Any other advice would be greatly appreciated.
    I did a 400 mile section with my dog last year about a month after I got him, and about that many miles in 1-4 day trips over the last few months. I have a similar husky mix around 55 pounds.


    Hopefully I have some worthwhile ideas, if nothing as useful as a dog thru-hiker.


    I had to carry my dog over stiles at first. Now he can climb them and jump or squeeze under most barbed wire fences. Maybe not the best thing for him to know, but oh well. I've never had issues with 'natural features'

    Food:
    He carries his own food most of the time. About a quart of food a day. I think it was a little over a pound per day, or a bit more than double his normal food quantity (we're pretty active off the trail as well). We usually do 25 miles or so a day. If I hit the trail with him for a longer hike now I'd plan for closer to 30s. We rarely go more than 3 full days (or 4 total days) between resupplies.

    I did mail drops so that I could ensure that my dog (and myself) had access to high quality food. I feed my dog something between premium and super-premium quality food. In towns I supplemented his diet with fresh stuff, just like I do for myself. Meat, cheese, wet dog food, etc.


    Primitive/sporting dog breeds are amazing hikers as long as you take care of their pads and don't hike them in the heat.

    In warm weather: Start at or before dawn. Siesta from 11 AM till 3 PM or so, and finish up your day. The siesta also gives your dog a chance to eat/drink and let the food settle in his stomach. Stop frequently to give him a chance to drink.

    You don't want to shave the coat of a dog like that. But a clipping when you get rid of your warm weather gear might be nice. Down to 3/4" or so. Anyone who tells you that a dog's coat helps keep him cool in the summer failed middle school physics. Take advice from vets, who care about overall health. Not breeders, who see a dog that is out of conformation (doesn't look like a breed standard) as a bad thing.

    Pad care: Stay off roads. Your dogs pads will also get more worn when he's on leash and following your pace instead of his own. Check them every afternoon/evening. If they start to wear you zero until they are good.

    etiquette/manners:
    Dogs don't drink from water sources, unless it's big enough to swim in. Dip water out, and teach him to drink from his bowl.
    Dogs don't belong in shelters
    No dogs allowed means no dogs allowed
    If your dog is disturbing others at a shelter/campsite it's your obligation to pack up and hike on. If there is a dog/dog problem, hike on.
    If you're in the thru-hiker bubble you might just want to avoid shelters entirely unless your dog is super well-mannered.
    Don't let him bother people that don't like dogs,
    Don't let him bother people that are eating.


    Gear:
    use the bottoms of 2L soda bottles for food/water containers. 1L bulk yogurt containers work as well. Sand down the edges.
    Wolfpacks make great dog packs.
    I'm trying this stuff to help with his pads. I don't think it's necessary on dirt trails, but I'm doing a lot of road running now, and my dog's pads restricts how often he gets to run with me: http://www.amazon.com/MUSHERS-SECRET.../dp/B001UIGQ22 Friend of a friend runs dog sleds and swears by this stuff.
    I carry my dog's water. He drinks almost as much as I do.

    Town strategies:

    Not many places allow dogs anymore on the trail. Too bad, too many bad owners.


    I never figured out great solutions here. I have a 'Velcro dog'. At home he follows me to the bathroom and waits outside the door. He refuses to be separated from me unless he's with another friendly person. That would become a huge problem that I'll need to have solved before I really think of doing another trip where I need to resupply with the dog. I thought I could tie him up with a metal lead, but he escapes every type of constraint (although once he's escaped and figures out where I am he just waits outside the door of the building I'm in).
    I pretty much ended up yogi-ing someone to watch my dog while I picked up our maildrop and looked for a quick shower in one town. Not ideal.

    Always leash the dog near cattle/livestock, on private property easements, busy areas, near roads, as you approach shelters/other hikers, and places that require leashes.

    I keep a leash (http://www.myraddog.com/ddleash.html) around my waist and clip it on my dog when needed. Even if he has perfect manners, other hikers would much rather see your dog on a leash as they approach.

  10. #10
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    I almost feel like hiking with a dog is cheaper, because towns are so inconvenient that you really need to get in and out quickly. Food's not really that expensive, even for the nice stuff.

  11. #11
    Registered User Turner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ScottP View Post
    I did a 400 mile section with my dog last year about a month after I got him, and about that many miles in 1-4 day trips over the last few months. I have a similar husky mix around 55 pounds.


    Hopefully I have some worthwhile ideas, if nothing as useful as a dog thru-hiker.


    I had to carry my dog over stiles at first. Now he can climb them and jump or squeeze under most barbed wire fences. Maybe not the best thing for him to know, but oh well. I've never had issues with 'natural features'

    Food:
    He carries his own food most of the time. About a quart of food a day. I think it was a little over a pound per day, or a bit more than double his normal food quantity (we're pretty active off the trail as well). We usually do 25 miles or so a day. If I hit the trail with him for a longer hike now I'd plan for closer to 30s. We rarely go more than 3 full days (or 4 total days) between resupplies.

    I did mail drops so that I could ensure that my dog (and myself) had access to high quality food. I feed my dog something between premium and super-premium quality food. In towns I supplemented his diet with fresh stuff, just like I do for myself. Meat, cheese, wet dog food, etc.


    Primitive/sporting dog breeds are amazing hikers as long as you take care of their pads and don't hike them in the heat.

    In warm weather: Start at or before dawn. Siesta from 11 AM till 3 PM or so, and finish up your day. The siesta also gives your dog a chance to eat/drink and let the food settle in his stomach. Stop frequently to give him a chance to drink.

    You don't want to shave the coat of a dog like that. But a clipping when you get rid of your warm weather gear might be nice. Down to 3/4" or so. Anyone who tells you that a dog's coat helps keep him cool in the summer failed middle school physics. Take advice from vets, who care about overall health. Not breeders, who see a dog that is out of conformation (doesn't look like a breed standard) as a bad thing.

    Pad care: Stay off roads. Your dogs pads will also get more worn when he's on leash and following your pace instead of his own. Check them every afternoon/evening. If they start to wear you zero until they are good.

    etiquette/manners:
    Dogs don't drink from water sources, unless it's big enough to swim in. Dip water out, and teach him to drink from his bowl.
    Dogs don't belong in shelters
    No dogs allowed means no dogs allowed
    If your dog is disturbing others at a shelter/campsite it's your obligation to pack up and hike on. If there is a dog/dog problem, hike on.
    If you're in the thru-hiker bubble you might just want to avoid shelters entirely unless your dog is super well-mannered.
    Don't let him bother people that don't like dogs,
    Don't let him bother people that are eating.


    Gear:
    use the bottoms of 2L soda bottles for food/water containers. 1L bulk yogurt containers work as well. Sand down the edges.
    Wolfpacks make great dog packs.
    I'm trying this stuff to help with his pads. I don't think it's necessary on dirt trails, but I'm doing a lot of road running now, and my dog's pads restricts how often he gets to run with me: http://www.amazon.com/MUSHERS-SECRET.../dp/B001UIGQ22 Friend of a friend runs dog sleds and swears by this stuff.
    I carry my dog's water. He drinks almost as much as I do.

    Town strategies:

    Not many places allow dogs anymore on the trail. Too bad, too many bad owners.


    I never figured out great solutions here. I have a 'Velcro dog'. At home he follows me to the bathroom and waits outside the door. He refuses to be separated from me unless he's with another friendly person. That would become a huge problem that I'll need to have solved before I really think of doing another trip where I need to resupply with the dog. I thought I could tie him up with a metal lead, but he escapes every type of constraint (although once he's escaped and figures out where I am he just waits outside the door of the building I'm in).
    I pretty much ended up yogi-ing someone to watch my dog while I picked up our maildrop and looked for a quick shower in one town. Not ideal.

    Always leash the dog near cattle/livestock, on private property easements, busy areas, near roads, as you approach shelters/other hikers, and places that require leashes.

    I keep a leash (http://www.myraddog.com/ddleash.html) around my waist and clip it on my dog when needed. Even if he has perfect manners, other hikers would much rather see your dog on a leash as they approach.



    Thank you sooo much! This is so helpful!

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by jcazz View Post
    There is nothing like hiking with dogs.
    you got that right!
    Turner i hope you guys have a great hike :-)
    Kelty Super Tioga External Frame Backpack-----"best pack for hiking the Appalachian Trail"

  13. #13
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    I thru hiked last summer through this spring on my extremeflip-flop hike...I hiked with Guinness and her super dog Ally from Vermont toAble Bridge, ME (this is the summit point for your dog.) Then I rescued my owndog (Heavy) off the AT in December, who I healed then hiked the spring 400miles with me through Virginia. I cansay I was extremely amazed by Ally on the technical section of the trail. I cantruly say she had a easier time with the ascents and descent on the rocky slicksteep bouldering sections. Because the dog is lower to the ground and is onfour legs instead of two she seemed to not have the problems like we did. I cansay though we did a few times have to give her a hoist up a rock cliff or downa ladder, but that was few and far between. If there was rebar or a ladder shealmost always found her own way around without help.
    Pads and Nails
    I have seen and heard of other dogs tearing up theirnails digging into the slick rock, to the point where if broke back into thequick. You will know when this happens when it starts bleeding and the dogdoesn’t want to walk on it. When or if this happens make sure you have somethingto put on his nail, they make a powder substance you can apply that has a numbaffect. If you can’t find it you could use flour, corn starch, or baking powder,ect. Then take a few zero days for it to heal along with low mile days thereafter,although when starting you would be doing low miles anyways.
    When Heavy was hiking his pads started to wear down a little,my doctor informed me not to put boots on him but instead take it slow and easyfor a little while so they can toughen. I can say is that those pads toughenedand I haven’t had a problem since! Try to get your dog on rocks before the tripand other various terrains if possible before the hike so his pads can get usedto what is coming.
    Food
    Guinness and me both did mail drops for dog food…The suddenchange of dog food can make a dogs stomach upset and then the hiking isn’t goingto be fun, as the dog doesn’t want to walk and you have to keep removing softpoop from the trail LMy doctor recommended a high calorie dog food (http://www.proplan.com/dry-dog-food/performance-formula/default.aspx) I will say though Heavy still ended upeating 2-3 times the recommended intact for the day. I didn’t have a problemfeeding him this as I could tell he was still losing weight…I just feed himuntil he wasn’t hungry anymore (unless I was getting low on food.) One problemI saw with other people hiking with their dogs was feed them the same amount offood they did at home while hiking. Just like us we eat more because we areburning so much food, the same thing is going to happen with your dog.
    Pack
    Make sure you get a pack with a handle and able to bear yourdogs weight! With both of the dogs the handle was put to good use, as when youdo have to pick your dog up that is how you do it safely. Also make sure yourdog has put a good amount of miles behind the pack before heading out to hikethe whole trail (same thing goes for people and their pack.) Double bagEVERYTHING inside of the pack as it will get wet…
    Guinness and I personally never made our dogs carry waterwhile hiking, but instead we carried it. The dogs carried their own food, waterbowl, first aid kit, and tennis ball. Also expect to carry the dogs pack atsome point and time in the hike as the dog may not feel good or be injured.
    Water
    The best thing you can do is ask yourself if you want to retrievewater from this source after your dog has been in it. If it is a fast movingstream, lake or pond then yes he can get in it and cool off. When the dog didget a drink I would have him go downhill from where other people get water, thekey thing is be polite and respect others around you. I watered my dog twice as I water myself mostof the time and on the hot days I poured water on his coat to cool him off.
    Shelters
    I can say I was lucky at the end of my hike as I was hikingsouth and didn’t have many people until the last week on the trail. Heavy sleptin a good amount of the shelters as it would only be use half the time and theother half it would only have 4 max people. I did end up sleeping in one fullshelter with him and I can say that I’m probablynot do that again as it does take up half a spot and although everyone saidthey were dog friendly you don’t know if they are just trying to be polite.
    Leash
    Your dog needs to be well trained no matter on or off leash,with vocal commands, hand signals, and around other people and animals. Both ofour dogs hiked off leash a good amount of time, when they were not off leashwould be when they misbehave, around other dogs, non dog friendly people, andaround busy roads and people.
    Towns
    Your dog has to be very friendly around everyone! Your dog99percent of the time will be tied up outside the store when you go in, and Iwill tell you every civilian will want to or will walk over and pet your dog.When I hiked into Damascus I heard of a thru hiker dog that snapped at 19people in front of ONE store, needless to say you think the towns people aregoing to become dog friendly? Don’t expect the rules to change for you and yourdog, example: hostels that don’t allow dogs, don’t expect them to allow you andYOUR dog. Also expect to have harder hitches with dogs, but at the same time Idid have people stop just because of my dog. When I was in town I sometimesfeed him other food (canned dog food) for a special treat and extra calories. I’vealso seen one hiker as a restaurant if they had any extra food scrapes thatthey could feed their dog, (I do warn you by this method about bad gas afterfeeding the dog that food.)

    If you have any other questions about hiking with your dog pleasefeel free to send me a message. I feel free to check outtrailjournals.com/aheavyhike it is Heavy’s journal about hiking the 400 miles,I hope you find it useful.

  14. #14
    Mom of Future Thru-Hiker docllamacoy's Avatar
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    Your dog will be fine. You won't have to carry him at all. Our dog, Coy, thru-hiked the AT and the PCT without any trouble on the terrain. She often thought we were going to slow. LOL. Don't listen to the naysayers. Just pay attention to your dog's needs. Coy was about 55 pounds and ate about 1 lb of food a day.
    Llama, of Doc, Llama & Coy

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    Mom of Future Thru-Hiker docllamacoy's Avatar
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    I just wanted to add that Coy had to be carried only ONCE on the PCT and AT combined. That was across the Bridge of the Gods entering into Washington State on the PCT. Coy never had to be carried, lifted, etc otherwise. People who have never thru-hiked with a dog should really keep their ignorant advice to themselves.
    Llama, of Doc, Llama & Coy

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    Quote Originally Posted by chip2012 View Post
    If I'm not mistaken dogs are not allowed in certain parks that the trail runs through. Also extended hikes are.very hard on dogs. Have you ever taken him out for a couple of weeks or more?
    Me and my dog regularly did 15 to 20 day backpacking trips and he routinely carried 17 days of his own food. He was a chow mix and about 60 lbs of chest hairs and born again hard to the outdoors. Humans are fickle when it comes to living outside---he wasn't.

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    Thank you C Seeker for the awesome advice!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wise Old Owl:1275666
    Quote Originally Posted by chip2012 View Post
    If I'm not mistaken dogs are not allowed in certain parks that the trail runs through. Also extended hikes are.very hard on dogs. Have you ever taken him out for a couple of weeks or more?
    Turner was very specific - "people that have thru with a dog" He was looking for experienced people with that information. Have you ever thru with a dog?
    I have now thru hiked with a dog. Some areas are tougher than other for them but the dog I was with did awesome. Even pulled off the 4 state challenge. The beginning was very tough on him as it was on all of us. Not just the dog I was with but many other encountered porcupines and bears. Some dogs are going to perform better than others. @ wise owl... When was your thru hike?

  19. #19

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    Haven't thruhiked with a dog, but do have a couple of thoughts:
    1. Don't put anything in your dog's pack that you can't afford to lose - e.g. a hiker had his expensive SLR camera in the dog's pack. Dog ran into the woods, came out without the pack. He never did find the camera.
    2. If your dog is carrying his own food, bring some extra in your pack, just in case it gets ruined (i.e. in a stream) or lost (see#1).
    3. I use a margarine container for a water bowl for Ben, my GR. Light and easy to carry. HE doesn't like the collapsible bowls you find at REI.
    4. Some dogs love climbing rocks, some hate it. I've heard dogs howling in misery when forced to go through the Notch. One hiker had to carry his 75 pound Chesapeake Bay retriever every time there were rocks. I've seen other dogs climb like mountain goats. With our dog, if he has a bad experience (i.e. falling off a wet log) it takes a while for him to get his confidence back. We can't force him to do anything he doesn't want to do. Parts of the trail have bogs - you will need to train your dog to use the bog bridges or put up with a very mucky dog.

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    Default Even where "prohibited"?

    I am a novice just looking into hiking a section this summer... I really want to take my dog; he loves the little hikes we do now! But I am in the south and planning on doing a little section between Springer Mtn and somewhere around Asheville, NC. A huge part of that is in the Smokey's which is saying no dogs. Did you take your dog through there?

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