We run pack hikes every Monday-Friday morning, and Saturday in the afternoon. The time on trail/land is 2-3 hours, depending on the dogs’ energy level. The total time away from home is usually 4-8 hours, depending on location. We pick up from the Pacific Palisades, Santa Monica, and Venice. We currently hike on private land in Calabasas, with access to approx. 120 acres with oak trees, views, and a stream with ponds.
Hikes are great for medium-high energy and/or somewhat difficult dogs that seem like they are missing a big part of what they need to be fulfilled.
Prices (Pick up and drop off included on all hikes):
$52 per weekday hike
$47 for 3+ days/week
$35 for each additional dog per household
$47 for Saturday sunset hikes
$23 for short-notice pack hikes (temporarily unavailable)
Pack Hike Length:
Our hikes are usually 2-3 hours (the amount of traveling time is usually determined by the pack’s energy level/mood that day.) The colder the day, the faster the we generally move, with some rainy day hikes being closer to 1.5 hours. Our goal is to get the dogs completely satiated, where they are thinking more about getting back to the van and home because they feel they’ve had enough for the day.
The total process of pick-up to drop-off will usually take approximately 4-7 hours depending on where you live, (closer to Malibu = less driving time).
Pick-Up and Drop-off:
We generally pick-up and drop-off from the owner’s home. We pick up dogs in whatever way is easiest for the owner. The majority of owners give us a key for use when they are not home, but any way which allows us to pick up the dog without disruption works. We also meet some owners who travel into our service area for the pick-up and drop-off.
Our Process of Adding a New Dog:
Once you give us a call or email, we will answer any questions, and set up a time to come and meet your dog. Before introducing a new dog to a pack, we will first meet and walk with you and your dog, introduce him to one or two other dogs from the pack that he will be hiking with, and let him jump in the van to have a low-stress, exploratory experience. This usually takes about 15-30 minutes. The process of us walking together and being comfortable with each other helps bring us into your dog’s circle, and built trust. This is also an opportunity for your dog to jump in the van and smell around, check the place out, and feel comfortable. Once your dog sees that we can protect him and have power in front of other dogs, we can begin to earn the trust/respect we will need for him to follow us on the hikes. He is then ready to start hiking with his new pack.
How Should I Determine My Dog’s Schedule:
Generally, we prefer if the owner will tell us how many days a week they would like their dog to hike, and we will then recommend certain packs based on their dog’s energy level and personality. Placing dogs in certain packs allows us to create balanced packs that have other dogs with a similar vibration, so that the packs stay cohesive, and the dogs feel they are in the right environment. This pack(s) become their new peer group, which will help them socialize, and has dogs they enjoy seeing regularly.
Holidays and Rainy Weather:
We hike in all weather, and on most holidays, (Hikes on Christmas day and New Years day usually start several hours late, with email notifications in advance). If we need to cancel a day, we will let you know as far in advance as possible. This might happen several times a year for Saturday packs, and maybe once a year or so for weekdays. In rainy weather, we let the dogs jump in a fresh stream just before getting back into the van. The dogs still may be damp when they get come, but will almost always be clean (rinsed in stream water).
What We Do When It’s Hot:
When it’s very hot, we take it much easier, and the dogs often jump into a stream before we get going to cool down like kids on lazy summer days. The van is also heavily insulated, and well ventilated. We may also soak the blanket(s) in the van with water, and turn the rear electric vent on, so that it is constantly evaporating and cooling the dogs in addition to the air conditioning for the front. We keep an eye on dogs that are prone to overheating and keep their coats wet to make staying cool a bit easier for them. Heatstroke is something we take very seriously. Here is a useful article on that for those who are interested:
We have a customized cargo van for the dogs. The van is heavily insulated, has air conditioning and heating, a slip-proof floor with a blanket, vents alongside the van to allow for fresh air to circulate, and an electric vent on the back door of the van to suck the air into the van through the side vents and past the dogs, which allows them to have “window seats”, and gives them all the smells and fresh energy from outside. We also have multiple fans inside, as well as a portable speaker with nature sounds, which seem very relaxing. With all of the effort we put into getting the dogs in our pack into a good state of mind, we want to make sure that they stay comfortable and happy so they can retain the positive energy that they picked up during the hike. They usually sleep just about the entire ride home.
Will I Ever Get to See Videos or Photos of My Dog?
We will take videos and photos of your dog’s first day to give you an idea of what his pack hikes will be like. We also regularly add videos and photos of pack hikes to our Facebook Page for owners to view.
Collar with Tags:
It’s usually helpful to have a collar with tags on your dog, to serve as a backup, but we will provide them with a Garmin GPS collar with a tag as well.
Garmin GPS Trackers:
We supply Garmin GPS tracking devices to all dogs. Garmin makes a very effective dog tracking system, designed for hunters and their packs of dogs. Click the photo and links below for in depth videos on the devices we use. We use the Garmin T-5 Tracking Collars, and the Garmin Alpha 100 Handheld, which is the more advanced unit. These have been a fantastic insurance policy and anxiety reducer.
As an added layer of protection, we ask that owners provide a collar with tags. Having a pet tracking device of your own is also a great option, and we find that many of our clients like the brand Whistle.
Ticks and Burs:
Dogs will come into contact with ticks & fleas, burs, and dirt. The burs are more likely to surface around late Spring through Fall, as the bur bearing plants grow in late winter-early spring and have burs ready by mid-late Spring that often retain their “sticking ability” through Fall. Foxtails can be more of a problem for dogs like Golden-doodles, German Shepherds, and other dogs with coats/undercoats that let the foxtails get a stronghold. We recommend that owners check their dogs thoroughly, especially between the toes, during high foxtail seasons. We also try to avoid any areas with foxtails, as these can be seriously harmful to dogs. We often clean any obvious burs off of dogs’ coats, and these generally aren’t a problem. Here is an article on the potential dangers of foxtails:
Ruffwear Dog Backpacks:
We provide dog backpacks for higher energy dogs. We use 1 liter water bottles for weight, and determine the weight depending on their size and energy level. This allows us to let higher energy dogs tire out more quickly than usual, so that they are equally drained by the end of the hike as lower energy dogs. Because water also has the ability to absorb a large amount of heat, the water bottles are a great option relative to others. We use Ruffwear’s Approach Pack.
We pick and drop off in the Pacific Palisades, Santa Monica, and Venice. We limit our service area so as to not extend the travel time for the dogs, which can already be long, depending on their location.
We are insured by Pet Sitters Associates.
Dogs with Current Problem Behaviors:
We often are able to accept dogs that would not be able to socialize in most conditions. For severe cases, where extended rehabilitation is needed, I will generally recommend that the dog get rehabilitation with Brandon Fouche, someone who I’ve learned a great deal from and to whom I owe a debt of gratitude. Often, after a period of rehabilitation in his center, we can bring the dog into a pack and keep him on a maintenance level of socializing. It’s amazing and rewarding to see dogs be able to have the connection again with their own species after years of isolation in some cases. Once a dog has healed and become social, they can even be in a position to help new dogs learn to become balanced, and pay it forward.
Short-Notice Pack Hikes (temporarily unavailable, as there is a fairly long waitlist):
Please feel free to request to be added to a list for a short notice pack like notifications. There are times when multiple dogs will not be hiking on a certain day, for various reasons, and this list allows us to fill those spots and keep a healthy number of dogs in the pack. Only for dogs with a regular schedule in one or more other packs.
We accept Cash, Check, Venmo, credit card, and direct transfer through our invoicing system-House Call Pro. We send invoices on the second Saturday of each month, or we can set up a different schedule if you prefer, e.g. every 2 weeks, the 1st of the month, etc.
Pack Hike Schedule:
*These are approximate times. Pick up times will vary. Please have your dog’s schedule flexible to allow for fluctuations. This allows us to prioritize taking any extra time needed with the dogs as opposed to making deadlines, which can add stress to the packs.