How to Go Camping With Dogs
Dogs love camping too, but before you set off with pooch you need to be aware of a few basic guidelines. Sounds obvious but you’ll need to check that the campsite you’re intending to visit accepts dogs because there are some that don’t. If you’re going to a new area, check the dog admittance policies of attractions and pubs close by. You should also check the location of the nearest vet, in case of emergencies.
Ideally your dog should be obedient, sociable, good around strangers and children and used to being outdoors. If your dog is disobedient, excessively noisy or nervous and aggressive around strangers, then it would be a good idea to try some obedience training before you go.
It may also help to have several short day trips into the countryside to get your dog used to unfamiliar sights, sounds and people.
Packing to Take a Dog Camping
You’ll need plenty of food and fresh water. Dried food is best because it doesn’t smell as much as wet food, and is less messy.
A dog tether is an essential item when camping with dogs. It’s a giant corkscrew shaped contraption that is twisted into the grass and the lead is clipped or tied to the top. It means your dog can be securely tied up. They are widely available in camping shops.
Bringing your dog’s bed from home will mean that it is in comfortable and familiar sleeping surroundings, but there are special dog camping beds and blankets available. A plastic-backed blanket to put under the bed is essential to ensure damp and cold don’t seep through the groundsheet.
You could also pack some games and toys for your dog to play with. Frisbees and balls are great in campsites with open spaces (some larger campsites even have dedicated dog walking and playing areas), or bring chews or rope toys.
Don’t forget a plentiful supply of poop scoop bags (biodegradable ones are best); you can never have too many.
A sturdy lead is also essential. A longer lead will allow your dog some freedom to roam but not too far.
Basic Rules for Camping With Dogs
- Remember that not everyone likes unwanted attention from dogs, so make sure your dog is under control at all times. Don’t let your dog stray and disturb other campers, especially at meal times.
- Never, ever leave excrement on or around the camping field.
- Control barking and noise, especially late at night and early morning.
- Do your research carefully, not only for dog-friendly campsites, but for dog-friendly attractions, cafes and visitor areas too.
- Pack dry food instead of wet – it’s not as messy or smelly.
- Bring wet wipes or anti-bacterial hand gel so it’s easy to clean your hands after picking up dog poo.
- Take a spare towel to dry your dog after swims or heavy rain.
- If your dog isn’t micro-chipped, think about an inexpensive temporary dog tag, detailing the campsite you’re in and your mobile number.
- Check your dog daily for ticks and bites. If you’re near to woodland, then also check his footpads for splinters and needles.
- Always keep a supply of poop bags with you. You don’t want to be caught out.
- Place your dog’s bed away from drafts. An extra fleece blanket will keep your dog warm if it suddenly gets cold, and it will dry quickly if it gets wet.
- If you’re planning to camp out in the sticks, then it’s a good idea to pack a basic doggy first aid kit with some antiseptic and bandages, in case of emergencies.
- If mountain walking and hiking part of the camping trip, then a doggy harness may be a good idea for smaller dogs if you need to lift them over rocks or steep parts.
Above all remember that your dog will love camping as much as you do, so long as he’s happy and comfortable. He’ll enjoy being around the new sights and experiences, and he’ll love having the chance to spend lots of time bonding with his family. Remember to involve your dog in whatever you do and reward him for good behaviour.
Training Your Dog
In any situation, a well-behaved dog is better than an unruly one, and camping trips are no exception. It is important that your dog obey basic commands such as “sit,” “stay,” “come,” “heel,” and “lie down” before you head out into the woods.
If camping is a regular habit of yours, start bringing your dog along early, when it is a puppy, so it gets used to traveling in a car and sleeping in unfamiliar places.
Pet Safety and Security
Before you go, have your veterinarian give your dog a basic checkup to make sure your pet is in good health.
Ensure your dog is either micro-chipped or has an ID tag firmly fastened to its collar. You can also write your phone number with a permanent marker on the dog’s collar to increase the chances of your dog coming home to you if it gets lost.
Bring along items your dog enjoys, such as a few favorite toys. This will help your dog relax in new environments.
First Aid for Your Dog
Purchase or make your own dog first-aid kit to bring with you. Canine first-aid kits should include the basics of any first-aid kit: bandages, antiseptic, gauze, scissors, tweezers, etc. You should also have a current canine first-aid book. Ready-made first-aid kits are available at most pet supply stores.
No two campgrounds are alike and neither are their regulations concerning pets. Call ahead, review your destination’s rules for camping with dogs, and obey them when you get there.
Be considerate of the environment and of other campers and clean up after your dog. Also remember that some campgrounds, including those in national parks, require dogs to be restrained at all times, either in a vehicle, in a crate or on a short leash.
Use Common Sense
Consider your pet’s well-being at all times while traveling. Never leave your pet in a vehicle unattended for extended periods of time. Pack plenty of food and water and remember to keep your dog hydrated and cool in summer months.
Camping together can be an incredible bonding experience for your and your dog. By following basic safety precautions you can ensure the trip is meaningful and free of worry for both of you.