Well bringing Spot along with you on your trip might be "just your speed" (and other analogies). Dogs require special care on backpacking trips, but I assure you, he/she will LOVE you for it.
I would like to note that I will be uploading pictures of my backpacking trip with my black lab, Abby, as soon as I'm able to go... I've got it planned, but I just need to go out and hike, now.
Step 1: Your Dog
Keep these in mind throughout the planning of your trip.
Some dogs are more suited to the hiking and the heavy duty exercise that is backpacking, some are more suited to sitting on your lap and yipping at everything that exists. You can bring any dog you want, just remember: Some dogs LOVE the outdoors, some don't. Just like people, there are "city-dogs".
Remember that you need to bring everything with you while backpacking. Bringing a dog means extra water, extra food, extra bowl, extra sleeping arangements, maby extra clothes, and a chew toy (unless you bring one normally... To each their own, amiright?)
Now you have to carry all of that extra weight, while your dog chases all of the birds...
There has to be a better way... Oh, wait!
Step 2: Gear: Enter, the Dog Backpack!!
They run about $40-$80, depnding on the model, brand and size.
Dog packs usually have a capacity of 2-10 liters, and they don't weigh more than a few pounds. They are very nice, specially designed to keep your dog comfortable (if used and fitted properly). Best of all(!), doggy can carry all of his/her stuff!!
When you buy a dog pack, you need to train your dog to wear it...
Step 3: Training your dog to wear their spiffy new pack!
Then, fire up your Rocky-Style Training Montage-o-matic! and start training with your dog. Run them with the empty pack, then start putting light loads in it, like a few water bottles or some food. Or treats and their favorite toy. They'll like that.
When your dog gets more used to the pack, start taking them out on day hikes with a pretty decent load. pay attention to how much your dog can carry, though... we don't want to hurt them.
That's a good point: some dogs shouldn't have packs. I have 3 dogs, and my oldest is almost 12. She can handle a really easy hike, but no pack for her. She's never had joint problems, but I don't wanna push her. :) I'll gladly carry her stuff.
Step 4: Planning the Trip With Canis Lupus Familiaris in Mind
Get a map of the trails you'll be hiking on. You'll need to plan a corse that will challenge your dog, but not hurt them. A topographic map will help you decide a good route to take.
After that, you'll need to think of your dog's predicted water needs. Pay attention to how hot they will be (also, how sunny it'll get, humidity, the color of your friend's fur).
Then, how much food does your dog usually eat? You'll probably want to bring more, unless your dog usually exersises this much. Hiking burns tons of calories.
A dog first aid kit will be a must on your trip. include things like, gauze bandages and pads for wounds, styptic pencil to heal seal minor cuts, sterile eye wash to clean minor debris and dust from your dog's eye, medical scissors, small bottle of hydrogen peroxide, adhesive tape, gloves, ice pack, tweezers for pulling out thorns or stickers, various ointments for pain relief, bug bites or to clean wounds, sting relief pads, small emergency blanket that you use for shock or to carry out your dog if injured, identification card including current vaccinations, any medications that your dog is currently taking, and a canine first aid book.
Try to keep the first aid kit lightweight but usable. Be flexible and add the items that your dog might need.
Check to see if their might be a danger of ticks in the area you're going to. Get the proper flea/tick/mesquito/whatever pretection for him/her.
Dogs are simple creatures, who are entertained by simple things. Bring a ball.
Lastly, is your dog a "runner"? Will he/she bolt away from you at warp speed if let off the leash for even one second? Remember the leash, and make sure their tags are up-to-date. I'd sure hate to loose my best friend.
Step 5: Properly Packing the Pooch Pack
Really, packing this pack is just like packing a normal backpacking pack. Distribute the weight evenly, and try to place the heaviest items in the middle, this will keep the center of gravity as normal for the dog as possible.
I suggest putting the toys and treats in your pack. After all, those are half the reason dogs stick with us humans, right?
Step 6: We Who Are About to 'Pack, Salute You!
Thats how its supposed to be.
Its the absolutely stunning beauty of owning a dog. They're your best friend, they will always be, as long as you're theirs.
Anyways, enjoy this video of two of my dogs, Abby and Bailey, playing in the yard. :) Abby love her pack.