Have you noticed that whenever you are packing for a camping trip, your dog looks like he or she wants to say something to you? Did you ever think that your dog may want you to take him along on your adventures rather than leaving him back at home?
If you love camping, whether alone, with your family, or with friends, being able to experience the adventure with your dog will certainly provide more satisfaction than you imagine. As a wilderness traveler, your dog’s accompaniment can turn out to be the most rewarding. It is your best time to connect with your dog. If your dog loves going for a walk and enjoys exploring the outdoors, just wait till you see his reaction when you take him camping!
But, before you let your furry companion hop on the backseat, there are some things you should learn about and take into consideration. Here is a complete guide to enjoy camping with your dog:
Know Your Dog
First and foremost, it is important to make sure that your dog is indeed ready to be taken on a camping trip. You wanting to take your dog along is one thing, but the dog wanting and enjoying it is a totally different scenario that not many pet owners take into consideration. Here are a few questions for you to answer:
- Does your dog get excited or tensed too easily?
- Does he hate being on leash?
- Does he have any sort of medical problems?
- Do you find it difficult to restrain your dog when he gets excited?
- Is your dog a wanderer?
- Does your dog get easily nervous or aggressive around strangers and other animals?
- Is your dog a constant barker?
These may seem like common questions for any dog owner; but, when it comes to camping with your dog, these questions are of extreme importance. If your answer to one or more of these questions were a yes, then you may want to think twice about taking your dog camping. For any dog, being outdoors will be a completely exciting experience. And if your dog is used to being indoors, this excitement will be on a whole different level. Also, if your dog is a barker, not so good around new people and other animals, wanderer, etc., camping may not be the right outdoor activity for him. In this case, you can plan on a different activity that will be better for his nature.
On the other hand, if your dog isn’t like anything discussed above, he might be a good candidate for camping. However, if he is new to the whole camping experience, it is better to start slow. For instance, start by taking your dog on a few short trips to the outdoors, allowing him to explore the wild, meet new people and wildlife. Gradually, take him on half-day hikes in nature trails close by your home, followed by full day hikes.
In addition to prepping you and your dog physically, these experiences will also be a great way to change the mindset of your dog, letting him know that the outdoors is nothing to be worried about. One other thing to practice is putting him in a crate or tying him up. This will help get him ready for the whole campsite experience and he wouldn’t feel insecure or anxious, and he wouldn’t mind if you leave him behind in his crate to attend to some business while camping. As a result, your dog will be both physically and mentally ready to go camping with you.
Before the Camping Trip
So, you have trained your dog and now he is ready to go on those exciting camping trips with you. What should you do next? Well, before your trip, there are a few things that you need to take care of.
Vaccinations and Medications
First of all, take your dog to your veterinarian to make sure that he is completely healthy. Also make sure that he is up-to-date on all his vaccinations, especially distemper and rabies. Ask your vet if your dog needs to be vaccinated for infectious diseases like Lyme disease and have it done as well. Discuss appropriate flea and tick medication and apply the same on your dog, and also make sure that he is on heart worm medication to prevent diseases transmitted by mosquito bites.
Always have a harness or collar with an identification tag around your dog’s neck. Make sure that the tag has a contact number in which you can be reached immediately, not your home or office phone number. For those of you looking for an additional level of protection for your furry friend, just in case he does get lost, microchipping him would be the best option. If your dog already has a microchip, all you need to do is just make sure that all the information is up-to-date. If you are going to add the chip for the first time now, make sure that you register it, so that it easy for anyone to return the dog to you.
The next step is to make sure that the camping area or campground you select allows dogs. Once you choose a campground, learn about their regulations for pets within the site.
Make sure that you pack these items for your dog:
- Proper collar or harness with ID tag (should be around his neck at all times).
- Crate or lead, to hold him back whenever necessary.
- Food and water (if there is no proper water supply at the campsite), sufficient for the whole stay.
- Dishes for food and water.
- Poop bags.
- His favorite treats.
- Toys and bedding.
- Brush to comb and tick key or tick remover.
- First aid kit, with regular medications.
- Vaccination and general health records.
Once you reach your campsite with your little companion, be sure to be considerate to your fellow campers at all times. Always keep your dog out of others’ campsites; if he listens to your command, you may not have to tie him up; if not, you may have to use the leash. Keeping your dog leashed also helps in keeping him safe.
Never leave your dog unsupervised. Make sure that he doesn’t bark, because this can be a huge disturbance not just to your neighbors, but also to the wildlife. Most pet-friendly campgrounds have specific on-leash and off-leash areas; remember to follow those rules without fail. Always clean up after your dog, no matter where, and discard the waste in the right trash containers.
It is extremely vital to keep your dog properly hydrated, as this helps prevent overheating. Even during the travel to reach your campground, or during hikes, take sufficient water breaks, and always give him only the water that you have packed, and not from a puddle or pond.
At nights, make sure that your friend is warm and comfortable. Lay a tarp or any other layer below his bedding or pillow to prevent him from getting cold from any moisture. Use extra blankets to cover him, if needed.
That’s about it! You no longer have to hesitate or feel discouraged about taking your dog camping with you. Just remember these tips and have a blast!