Hiking vacations, trekking with a dog – sleeping in a tent or in a hut, being outside all day long and moving around. Sounds like the perfect holiday to take your four-legged friend with you. It definitely is, if you are well prepared and keep an eye on a few things!
What’s the best way to get to Lapland? Is the dog allowed to run loose there? Are dogs permitted in the cabins? These and many more questions are answered in this article. If we have forgotten anything you are still interested in or the answer to a question is still unclear, please do not hesitate to let us know in the comments.
Entering Sweden with a dog
Your dog needs an EU pet passport, a valid rabies vaccination and a microchip or tattoo (only for dogs who have been tattooed before July 2011) to enter Sweden.
When entering Sweden with a dog, the dog must be declared to the Swedish customs. At the airport in Stockholm you simply take the dog through customs. If you travel by train or car, you can register your dog in advance on the internet. At the border you don’t have to do anything further but show the registration number on request. If you have not registered your dog online, you have to take the red lane when entering the country by car and register your dog at the customs. If you are on the train and have forgotten to register your dog, you can call +46 40 6613 225 to register your dog. All entry information and the link to register your dog can be found here: www.tullverket.se
Flying to Sweden with a dog
There is a lot to keep in mind when flying with a dog. Therefore we have written a separate article on flying with dogs. You can fly to Kiruna or Luleå for example. At both airports we have had good experience with the staff in handling dogs. A stopover in Stockholm is usually unavoidable. Here you should plan to have a sufficient amount of time (at least 90 minutes). We also recommend that you book all flights via SAS and plan as few connecting flights as possible. If the dog is comfortable with flying, this is a fast alternative to travelling by train.
Dogs have to be on a leash in Sweden
In Sweden it is required to have a dog on a leash in all public areas. In addition, dogs must also be kept on leashes in all other areas from 01.03. until 20.08. Apart from this period, a dog may run freely if it is retrievable at all times. We recommend that you always keep your four-legged friend on a leash in areas with reindeer if he likes to hunt.
Travelling by train with a dog in Sweden and Denmark
Dogs travel for free on the Swedish railways. There are marked carriages in which dogs and other pets may be carried. These are easily recognisable from the outside by a pictogram with a dog. In all other carriages, animals are not allowed. On night trains, dogs are only allowed in the seating area and not in the sleeping cars. If you travel by train from Germany, you might also take the Danish trains. Similar to Sweden, there are special carriages in Denmark where animals are allowed. A dog pays the children’s price there.
If you are travelling by train for a longer period of time, please make sure to take enough breaks for the dog to pee. Lando is a dog who loves to travel by railway and with him we have already travelled the whole distance (incl. night train) to Kiruna by train.
Riding the bus with a dog in Sweden
In Sweden dogs have to sit in the back of the bus, usually behind the last door. People with allergies or fear of dogs can move to the front area if necessary. Usually the dog pays half the ticket price, but we have made the experience that many bus drivers take dogs for free. Just smile nicely, that warms up many bus drivers hearts!
Using the STF cabins
In the STF cabins you will always find a room where dogs are allowed. If it is full, you are in bad luck. Then you might have to camp. In the dog room there are blankets on which the dog can lie and bowls for water and food. Dogs are not allowed in the common areas such as the kitchen. In general, we have made the experience that you are always welcomed friendly. Nobody wrinkles their nose, after all the dogs usually stink less than the unshowered hikers and none of the huts is more than broom-clean.
Bridges along the trail
Some of the bridges on Kungsleden are a bit wobbly and narrow. Also there are bridges with base plates of perforated grid. Your dog should be able to manage these challenges. Small dogs can possibly be carried in those areas. We never had problems with Lando along the Kungsleden, but he is a very courageous guy when it comes to bridges. In our opinion, the most critical bridge is the one that leads over to the Tjäktja cabin. But if you don’t spend the night there, you don’t have to use it. Alternatively, you can send the dog through the river below, which is not deep and swimming is not necessary. Only the slope down and up again is a bit steep.
If you are travelling apart from Kungsleden or in the Norwegian part of Lapland, these descriptions of bridges do not apply. There are sometimes no bridges or bridges that are not accessible with a dog. If you are planning to do such a tour, please contact us directly, we will help where we can!
Physical fitness of your dog
Please note that your dog must be able to walk up to ten hours a day. For Lando, we often had the feeling that hiking itself was not so problematic, but rather being awake all day long. Lando is always really tired in the evening! If you want your dog to carry luggage, we recommend training before the tour and slowly increasing the weight. For this purpose we do training sessions with Lando on the weekends prior to our holidays, which are similar in length to our planned hikes. He carries his bags and we carry our backpacks, then you train yourself as well! At the beginning we start with a low weight, but from week to week we increase it up to the planned initial tour weight. Please make sure that your dog never carries more than 20% of his body weight.
There are two aspects to the topic of food. On the one hand, you have to be able to estimate how much your dog eats under high performance and on the other hand you want to take as little as possible with you, because food weighs a lot. With a small dog this might not be so important, but with Lando, food is quite a weight factor. We always take food with us for the vacation, which Lando hasn’t eaten for a long time or which is completely new for him. When we bring new food, we test it beforehand to see if he really likes it. Dry food with about 400 kcal/100g is the most high-calorie food we have found so far. At the same time it is reasonably acceptable in terms of weight. If you have tips for food with more calories, please write it in the comments. If you search for the calories on the packaging, furryfit offers you a great calculator.
Lando needs about twice as much energy on a tour as in everyday life. Therefore we take a part of it in form of lard, which we feed in addition to the dry food. The lard can be stored at room temperature and Lando simply eats it pure. Sounds a bit nasty, but it’s great energy for him and much more weight efficient than dry food.
If your dog lets you, you can also feed him a little fat onto his ribs in preparation for the vacations. Then he has enough reserves for the tour! Since Lando doesn’t eat that much, it always works only moderately well with us.
The bottom line is that we advise you to rather take a little too much than too little food. If you have a dog that tolerates every food, you can also consider shopping in sections with huts in the shops and feeding the dog with rice or something similar. However, this should probably rather be an emergency solution.
And finally, as a reference point for similar sized/heavy dogs: Lando weighs about 30 kg at 65 cm shoulder height and we take about 400g dry food and 100g lard per day. This corresponds to about 2500 kcal per day. For buffer days as well as arrival and departure days we take about half the amount with us.
It has proven to be a good idea to pack the food in daily rations. This way we immediately know how much Lando can or should eat and at the same time the food is packed waterproof in his bags.
It is unlikely, but not impossible, that your dog might injure himself on a tour. Just in case, it is better if you are properly equipped and know a little bit about first aid for dogs. Please note that there is no internet in most parts of Lapland. This also applies to Kungsleden. You should therefore know things like temperature or heart rate of your four-legged friend. Basic things like putting on a bandage are also useful to know. A little preliminary research on the Internet will help you there. Our tip: write down the most important things about first aid in the offline available notes of your mobile phone! That way you will have them at hand in case you need them.
We always take some bandaging material with us on our tours. In case of emergency we can use this for ourselves as well as for the dog. Bandaging material is available for small money at your vet. If you are not sure what you need, the vet will be happy to help you. To disinfect wounds we have iodine ointment with us. We put a waterproof sock over the bandage if necessary. We use a silicone cover for this, which can be easily cut with a knife. In addition, we always carry painkillers with us. The amount we take depends roughly on how many days we need to return from the wilderness to civilisation. Again, it is better to take more than too little.
Sleeping in a tent
If you are travelling through Lapland and staying overnight in a tent, there are two possibilities to accommodate your dog: either you take him with you into the inner tent or he sleeps in the apsis. For the first option you need enough space in your tent, for the latter one in your apsis. In all our tents Lando usually sleeps in the apsis. That’ s very convenient if the dog is wet or dirty, and that happens surprisingly often on a tour like this. If it is very cold, the mosquitoes annoy him too much in the apsis or he just looks sad, he is also welcome in the inner tent…
In Lapland, temperatures can be slightly below freezing even during summer nights. Make sure your dog does not freeze in these conditions. If you have a dog with plenty of fur, a foam matting that protects against cold from below may be sufficient. You should definitely have one with you. For this purpose, we have simply purchased a cheap model from Decathlon and tailored it to our apsis.
If your dog tends to freeze, you will definitely need a coat, blanket or sleeping bag. Which of those is the best solution for you depends on your dog. The dogs from @alex_hundecoach, with whom we were on the Kungsleden in 2017, are a good example: Balou doesn’t even get up after he has made himself comfortable. He gets along well with a sleeping bag or a blanket. Louie, on the other hand, moves around a lot in his sleep and ends up lying on the ground without a blanket. For him a coat is definitely the better solution. By the way, if you are looking for a sleeping bag, we recommend checking for old children’s sleeping bags on Ebay. You can get them inexpensively from there. We sewed a coat for Lando out of an old summer sleeping bag. Most nights he doesn’t need it, but if it’s freezing we’re more comfortable if he wears it.
To make it a little easier for you to find missing things for your tour, we have summarised the things we use for you: