If you’re planning a camping trip, you probably want to take your dog too. After all, your dog is a member of your family, and he’ll love the excitement of spending a vacation with his human pack.
Here’s what you need to know before you take your dog camping with you for the first time.
1. Are Dogs Allowed?
Before you book your campsite, double-check that the campground you’re planning to visit is dog-friendly.
Most campgrounds that welcome dogs require that your pet is leashed and kept under control at all times. Generally, most sites ask that the leash must be no longer than six feet, and many places don’t allow retractable leashes.
Most campgrounds and campers appreciate that almost all dogs bark. However, be aware that if your dog barks excessively, especially at night, you might be asked to leave.
Nobody wants to camp next to an aggressive dog, and even pet-friendly campgrounds won’t tolerate dangerous dogs.
So, if your dog is intolerant of other dogs or new people, leave your pet at home.
Most campgrounds insist that your dog’s vaccinations are up-to-date and that he wears a collar bearing his ID and rabies tags.
2. Health and Safety
Your dog’s health and safety are just as important as yours for a happy camping trip.
Ticks and Fleas
The Great Outdoors is a brilliant place to go for fun with your dog, but ticks and fleas are an occupational hazard on hiking trails where wildlife is abundant. Ask your veterinarian about flea and tick prevention before your trip, and make sure that your dog is protected from these parasites.
Although campgrounds don’t require dogs to be microchipped, we do recommend it. If your dog gets lost in unfamiliar territory, a microchip can help to quickly reunite you with your pet.
Some dogs, especially those with curly coats, are magnets for brambles and mud. So, having your dog clipped and groomed can help to keep them safe when you’re exploring overgrown trails. Also, a clipped dog is less likely to overheat in warm weather.
A dirty, matted coat can cause skin infections, so be sure to take some dog shampoo and brushes with you so that you can keep your pet’s coat clean and mat-free.
Emergency Contact Information
Research the area you’re going to and locate veterinary services that are within easy reach of your campground.
Take your dog’s medical records with you, as the local vet will need them if you need to have your dog treated while you’re away.
3. What To Pack
Camping with your dog means packing everything that your pet needs to have a comfortable, safe vacation.
Here are some doggy essentials that you need to take with you:
- Dog food and treats
- Dog bowls for both food and water
- Prescription medication if required
- Leash and harness
- ID and rabies vaccination tags
- Tether or stake
- Dog first aid kit
- Medical information including vaccination record
- Poop bags
- Dog bed
- Dog rain jacket
To prevent anything from being misplaced, keep your dog’s small belongings in a separate bag.
4. Have A Practice Run!
If your dog has never been camping before, it’s sensible to have a trial run at home before you head off on vacation.
- Start by making sure that your dog is obedient and well-mannered on his leash, especially on long walks.
- At pet-friendly campgrounds, there are sure to be other dogs around. Make sure that your pup is well-socialized before you go by taking him on a few playdates with other dogs, and consider attending obedience training classes, too.
- Set up a backyard campground and have a trial run. Keep your dog leashed or tied up at all times, have a few friends around for a cookout, and spend an evening in front of a campfire.
Watch how your dog behaves. Is your pet stressed by the unfamiliar lack of freedom to roam? Does he start barking or become distressed? If your dog’s behavior toward other people changes dramatically, you might need to rethink your camping trip idea.
5. At The Campground
Once you arrive at your vacation destination, there are a few important points to note:
Never Leave Your Dog Unattended!
When you’re on a trip with your dog, you must never leave him unattended. That includes at the campsite, in your car or RV, during activities, and at dog parks.
Even the most laid-back dog can become stressed by being in unfamiliar situations away from the security of his home. So, to keep your dog and others safe and to ensure that your pet has a fun vacation experience, don’t abandon him!
Take Plenty Of Dog Toys
Although you’ll most likely spend lots of time outdoors on vacation, many dogs are accustomed to enjoying playtime at home with you and your family.
So, pack a few of your dog’s favorite toys and set aside some time each day for interactive play.
Keep Your Dog Hydrated
The excitement of the vacation experience, together with all that extra exercise, might leave your dog dehydrated.
An adult dog typically requires one ounce of water per pound of bodyweight every day. However, your dog will need more than that if he’s running around a lot or if the weather is warm. Take a collapsible bowl with you on hikes, and use a large, unbreakable bowl for the campsite.
Keep the water clean and top up the bowl with fresh water regularly. Put the bowl in a shady spot so that the water doesn’t evaporate or get too warm.
Secure Your Dog At All Times
Most campgrounds insist that your dog is leashed at all times when moving around the site and is tethered or crated when he’s outside your tent or RV.
Keep Safe Around Wildlife
If you’re camping in the wilderness, you’re sure to come across wild creatures and unfamiliar plants.
Be respectful of animals and ground-nesting birds that could be disturbed by your dog, and keep your pet on a short leash in areas where snakes are likely to be hiding in the underbrush.
Don’t let your dog drink from stagnant ponds or swim in water where toxic blue-green algae are growing. Plants and flowers can present a hazard, too, so make sure you can recognize local poisonous species.
6. Plan Dog-Friendly Activities
There’s more to a camping holiday than hiking, so to make your vacation good fun for everyone, plan a few dog-friendly activities in advance.
Here are a few popular activities that Fido can join in, too:
- Boating or kayaking (take a doggy life jacket if you’re planning on doing this activity)
- Beach walks
- Visiting local parks and attractions
- Eating at dog-friendly restaurants and bars
Unfortunately for your dog, not all attractions welcome pets, including some national and state parks and beaches. So, always check local laws before you plan your itinerary, and wherever you go, keep your dog leashed and carry plenty of dog poop bags.
If you’re planning a camping vacation, why not take your furry four-legged family member with you?
With a little forward planning and preparation, your dog can enjoy a fun-filled vacation with his human family. Find a dog-friendly campground, make sure that your dog is obedient and well-socialized, and get ready to make some wonderful memories!