There’s no doubt that camping can be an excellent way of unwinding after a busy work week. It can be the perfect family outing if you plan it the right way.
For most people, their pet dogs are a part of the family. Whenever they go on a trip, they take their dogs along if the circumstances allow them to do so. If it is not possible to take them along, alternate arrangements are made at a friend or relative’s house for their stay.
Since dogs love the outdoors, it would only be unfair to not take them with you if you’re going on a family camping trip. If you can make proper arrangements and the campsite allows dogs, why not bring them along?
In order to do that without any hiccups, there are a few things you need to consider. In this post, I’ll be walking you through some tips on taking your dog out on a camping trip.
Decide on the right campsite
Preparation, preparation, and some more preparation. First things first, find the right campsite that allows you to bring your canine friend. This shouldn’t be a problem because many campsites are already pet-friendly.
You may want to know the leash laws on the camping sites that you choose to go to. Some of these sites may welcome dogs but only if they’re on a leash while others are okay for unleashed dogs as long as they’re well-trained. In most cases, rules are more lenient during the off-season compared to the peak season.
Sometimes it might happen that you have come across this beautiful campsite by the lakeside and you want to go there. But if it doesn’t allow dogs in the vicinity, you’ll have to settle for some other place.
Train your dog for some camp-friendly commands
Once you’ve decided on the right campsite, you need to thoroughly prepare yourself and your dog for the camping trip. It is better to be prepared beforehand than go there and realize things aren’t working out. You need to properly train your dog for the trip.
Now even if that involves teaching it new commands or improving its physical capabilities, you have to do it. After all, you are going into the wilderness, right?
One of the most reliable recall commands that you can teach your dog is the “leave it” command. This command is very helpful when your dog will encounter some dangerous animals, like snakes and bears. You don’t want your dog to engage with these dangerous animals, right?
Ensure all shots and vaccination are updated
The next thing you need to do is to visit the vet to prepare your dog before the trip. Make sure that your dog is in top health and ask for some good flea medications. Just like us, tick bites affect the health of dogs.
Get updated with all the shots and vaccinations that are necessary for your dog. Also, you need to get a rabies tag for your dog. This tag is an acknowledgment that the dog is vaccinated against rabies. Most of the campgrounds and parks have that as a compulsory check. Also, carry the vet’s phone number just in case.
Ensure your latest contact details on your dog’s tags
What if your dog gets separated from you on one of those hikes?
It’s the outdoors and there can be chances where it might get excited about seeing so much open space and the wilderness all around. And in sheer excitement, run out of sight to explore the place.
You don’t want that to happen. There can be a risk of losing it or the dog hurting itself. It is hence wise to have your dog wearing a dog tag with your name and address (the owner’s) on it.
If anyone finds it astray, they can know who to contact. And for that, contact details must necessarily include your contact number as well.
As far as possible, keep it on a leash
Keeping your dog on a leash serves two purposes.
1. You do not want to run behind your dog while chases other small animals of the wild. Seeing so many small birds and animals roaming freely in the wild can be highly entertaining for the dog.
On the contrary, there may even be chances of your dog getting hurt or even killed by the larger animals if it comes into contact with them by itself. Hence you might want to keep it on a leash.
2. If you are in a common campground, there will be other people as well. You do not want your dog to run up to them and disturb them. And not to forget how you’ll be running after your dog.
I do understand you cannot keep your dog on a leash all the time. The best time to open it is when you are on a hike or if your dog is well trained.
Do not forget to clean up behind your dog
Dog waste can contaminate the natural environment especially water. And if you are at a campground, it can be a nuisance to other people. It is always best to clean up the poop with the help of disposable bags and then dispose of it in a trash can.
Unlike horse poop, which is often treated as manure, dog waste doesn’t decompose off that easily and hence poses a problem to nature as well as other people. Dog owners do not want to come across as being irresponsible with their dogs, as this can give the non-dog owners another reason to close the campgrounds and parks for our four-legged companions.
Carry appropriate food and equipment for your dog as you would for yourself
Carry a sufficient amount of water, dog food, and portable dishes to serve food to your dog. You need to pack a dedicated dog water bottle to keep your buddy hydrated on long strolls. The Velonie Dog Water Bottle is one of the best out there with its leak-proof cap, high-quality stainless steel body, and a reversible lid that functions as a drinking bowl.
As far as possible, avoid feeding your dog water from lakes and ponds because they might be contaminated with bacteria. Bring ample drinking water from home and keep refilling it from time to time.
Also, try taking a long collapsible feeding bowl as far as possible as they can be easily folded and stored in the backpack. It is also important that you take care of the dog food like you would take care of your own, by storing it in airtight boxes to maintain the freshness.
Prepare first-aid items in case of emergencies
Don’t forget your dog’s first aid kit. You’ll never know what’s going to happen in the campsite. You can buy a specific first-aid kit in your local pet supply store or you can make one yourself with some of these essentials:
⦁ A bandana to be used as an improvised muzzle
⦁ A pair of tweezers and a bottle of mineral oil to remove ticks
⦁ A fold-up blanket to warm your dog during the cold nights
⦁ Some needle-nose pliers to pull out any sharp objects
⦁ A pair of booties to protect your dog’s paws from the rocky ground
⦁ Benadryl in case your dog gets bitten by bees.
Pack a few dog toys for the trip
Very few things are as enjoyable as playing with your dog in the outdoors. Along with indoor games, you should make arrangments to play a few games in the outdoors that both you and your pet can enjoy. I recommend a frisbee or a big plastic ball which you can throw and your dog can fetch.
Also, don’t forget to bring your dog’s favorite toy. It might be a chewy bone or a small animal made of rubber. This will help to keep it occupied until the time it gets familiar with the new surroundings.
If you don’t have any toys at hand, just use a stick to play fetch with him.
Consider the sleeping arrangements beforehand
You need to think about the place where your dog will sleep at night. Will you let it sleep in the tent or put it in a crate outside? One thing you need to keep in mind here is that only a few breeds of dogs can be made to sleep outside. This includes the tougher dog breeds like the German Shepherd, Doberman, Huskies or the Bulldog. For smaller breeds, you should make arrangements inside the tent.
Make sure that you got the sleeping arrangements prepared so both you and your dog sleep well at night.
If you want your dog to sleep comfortably at night, get it a good sleeping pad. I recommend the Hero Dog Bed Mat which is made of durable fleece that doesn’t get easily broken. It has 3 cm cotton inside to give enough padding when your dog sleeps.
Carry a spacious tent
If you’re a family with 2 kids and you’re bringing your dog along, you’ll need a much bigger tent than the usual 4 person tent that is sold in the market. Ideally, a 6 person tent would be spacious enough to accommodate your family of four along with your dog. If you’re a bigger family, you can choose the size of the tent accordingly.
A tent with plenty of room is comfortable not only for you but also for your dog to accommodate you and your pet. A tent with two vestibules might suffice. If budget is an issue, you can still go for a smaller tent. Place your bags and gear under one antechamber and a small sleeping pad for your pet in the other one.
The floor of the tent can get moist in the morning due to the dew seeping in through the ground. To keep it dry, put a waterproof tarp under the tent. Make the tent as comfortable as possible.
Give it space
Just like kids, your dog may also have downtime, the time when it wants to rest and cannot play or hike. You must be observant and watch out for signs of that. Give your dog adequate time to rest.
Bring along its dog basket and give it the luxury of resting in its basket when it is tired. Believe me, your dog will be grateful to you!
There you have it! Twelve tips on taking your dog camping. Before you go camping, pick a dog-friendly site, prepare your dog’s food, and pack a lot of water. Now, you’re prepared to hike, play, and snug around the campfire with your canine friend.