Looking for a fun outdoor adventure that you can share with your dog? Love to go camping, but hate to leave your furry friend at home or kenneled up? The good news is, camping is a great bonding activity for you and your dog. The bad news is, you can’t just get up and go. Camping with your dog does take some preparation, especially if this is going to be your pup’s very first camping trip.
Is Your Dog Ready to Go Camping?
The first thing to do is determine if your dog is ready to go camping. Consider your furry friend’s average activity level. Does he spend most of his time curled up on the couch with you? Or does he like to go for a run in the park?
If you have an adventurous pup that loves to go exploring, you can take him camping somewhere with a fun hiking trail, or to a campsite near a lake where he can splash around. Dogs that are more on the couch potato side can still go camping, but you may want to try a family-friendly campsite (think of a campground that would be tolerable to a toddler, and it will also likely be acceptable to your little couch potato).
If your dog gets car sick easily, you may want to talk to your vet about getting some anti-nausea medicine he can take for the drive. He’ll be a happier camper if he’s not feeling sick before he even gets there.
What Are the Rules for Camping With a Dog?
Whether you are a novice or a pro camper yourself, you may want to start by doing some research on the proposed camp area you plan to take your dog for the first time. For one thing, it is super disappointing to put all of this effort into preparing for a camping trip, only to find out the site you chose doesn’t allow dogs. Look up your desired campsite online or even give them a call to see if dogs are allowed and what the rules for dogs are.
Even when dogs are allowed, a lot of campgrounds have strict rules. Some campsites require you to keep your dog on a leash. Others have restrictions on what breeds are allowed. You’ll want to find out all of the rules and regulations of the campsite whether you are bringing your pup or not.
You will want to find out if the campsite is on public or private land. If it is public land, like a national, state, or local park rules can vary widely. For instance, a lot of national parks do not allow camping with dogs. Some parks do not allow dogs to go on hiking trails.
What to Pack For Camping With Your Dog
You don’t need to pack all of your dog’s belongings for a camping trip. Pack strategically. Pack light. Pack the essentials.
Here’s a list of basics to get you started:
- Blanket/sleeping mat
- Canine backpack
- Collapsible water and food containers
- Extra food
- Reflective leash/collar/harness
- Poop bags
- First Aid Kit:
- Flat tweezers
- Mineral oil
- Space blanket
- Tongue depressors
- Needle-nose pliers
- First Aid instructions
- Emergency contact information
Use Common Sense and Stay Safe!
When camping, a little common sense can keep you safe and your dog safe. Use a leash even if it is not required. A leash will help keep your pup out of poisonous plants and away from dangerous animals. Only keep food of any kind out during a meal to avoid attracting unwanted wildlife. You may want to use the week or two before going camping to practice some of the commands you will need to use on the trip, such as leaving things alone and coming when called.
Have a Backup Plan for Inclement Weather
You never know what is going to happen with the weather. Even if the forecast is predicting clear skies and warm temperatures, it is not a 100% guarantee this will be the case for your whole camping trip. For this reason, it is wise to plan for rain, wind, and snow just in case. Sometimes the inclement weather will only last a short time, and you and your pup can take a break in your warm, dry tent.
Other times, you may end up with less than ideal weather for a more extended period. If this happens, you may want to plan on activities to keep you and your dog occupied until the weather clears up. You may want to bring some chew toys for your pup and a good book for you, for instance.
What is Camping Etiquette?
To have an enjoyable camping trip, you likely will be grateful to your camp neighbors who follow proper camping etiquette. It is up to you to do the same. It is essential to follow all camp rules and regulations so everyone can have an enjoyable camping experience.
In addition to regular camp rules, there are specific rules that apply to camping with a dog. For starters, your dog should always stay with you while camping, and never be left alone in a car or a tent.
Use your obedience training as much as possible while camping. Keeping your dog on his very best behavior will make your camping neighbors happier. Using obedience commands can also help prevent injuries.
A lot of campgrounds have leash rules. Some require you to keep your pup on a leash that is no longer than six feet. Even if you are camping in a place that does not have any rules about keeping your dog on a leash, it is still a smart idea to keep him on one as the neighborly thing to do. Other campers might mistake your dog for a predator, or at the very least be annoyed by your wandering pup disturbing their camping experience.
Keeping your dog on a leash while camping is not only proper camping etiquette, it is also a safety issue for your dog. A wandering pup may end up lost, get hurt, or get into poison ivy. All of which will ruin your camping trip for you and your dog.
Make sure to bring bags to pick up after your dog. Dog waste can destroy soil and contaminate water, which is not suitable for the environment. Not only is leaving dog waste bad for the environment, but it is also not very neighborly.
Let’s Go Camping!
So, you have chosen your camping destination. You called or checked online to make sure dogs are allowed. You checked the weather forecast. You planned, packed, and prioritized. You practiced obedience commands you may need on the trip. Check, check, and check! It is time to go camping!