LIFESTYLE

Camping With Dogs: Tips, Guidelines, Do’s And Don’ts

Camping With Dogs
John Walton
Written by John Walton

All in all, like humans, dogs also need to stay active. Over the last decade, more and more pets have been gaining weight at a tremendous rate due to lack of fitness that often results in an increase in weight and body fats which eventually leads to major health problems. One of the most reliable ways that you can ensure your dog does not face such health problems and complications, is by taking him outdoors and allowing him to exercise. You can find out how much exercise your dog requires by reading on our other article that tackles this.

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Camping trips and hiking trips present both the dog and the owner a perfect opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and also exercise in a much pleasant and non-stressful environment. While on the trip, there are several recreational activities that you and your pet can partake in. You can decide to take the dog hiking, or you can alternatively opt to take him for strolls within the camping site.

Play with your dog on camping

Furthermore, if you can find grasslands within the campsite, you can opt to play fetch or toss Frisbees with your pet. In case there is a creek or stream near the site, you can always take him or her for swimming and splashing sessions.

Things to consider before taking your dog camping

Before you make the decision as to whether you will be taking your pet camping, it is very important to figure out as to whether they are going to enjoy the whole experience. Unlike popular beliefs, not all dogs enjoy camping and also not all dogs are suitable candidates. There are certain factors that can be used to gauge as to whether a particular dog is a suitable candidate. Most of this factors range from emotional overload to the general health and well-being of the dog. Hence, here is a list of questions that you can ask yourself before tagging him along:

  • Is he very vocal?
  • Is your pet easily distracted by other animals?
  • Does the dog get excited easily?
  • Does he or she have any medical problems or issues?
  • Does he or she dislike being confined to a leash?
  • Does the dog like to wander?
  • Does he or she have escape tendencies?

If your answer happens to be yes to all of the questions or any of the questions outlined above, then it is high time for you to put the entire trip under scrutiny once again. The outdoors are usually exceedingly stimulating on the part of the dog. The stimulation aspect is indeed one of the main reasons why dogs can be frightened easily or can experience some sensory overload. If he or she is usually easily distracted, then he or she can end up chasing after other campers, animals and wildlife.

Camping dogs

While on the journey, it is highly advisable to respect not only other campers but also the wildlife present in a specific camp. Hence, regardless as to whether your dog is easily distracted, it very essential to always have him or her on a leash. If he or she is usually afraid of strangers, loves to bark or has escape tendencies then it is time for you, the dog owner to consider another outdoor activity for him or her.

Depending on the magnitude of his tendencies and behaviors, there are some instances where a dog may require a little bit of training before he is ready for camping.

Tips on how to effectively prepare a dog for the trip

Once you have made the decision to tag the dog along, it is very prudent that he or she is not only mentally prepared but also physically capable. Preparing a dog for the voyage is crucial as it is going to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip for everyone who will tag along. Hence here are some very important tips that will assist you to prepare your dog for the outing effectively.

Pre-camping physicals are necessary for both the dog and the dog owner. Before you embark on the journey, you can begin by paying your vet a visit. He is supposed to conduct an evaluation of your dog’s physical and behavioral condition. After the evaluation is complete you’ll get insight as to whether the dog is a right fit for the trip. Factors such as ailments, age, medications and the overall health condition will always determine whether your pet is fit for the trip. If the dog is ill or is of a certain age, you can always opt for other outdoor activities.

For first timers, you can assist your pet be in tip top shape by taking him or her on hiking trips. Hiking trips are important because they are going to allow him or her to get used to being outside and also being around new people and the wildlife in general. Support the dog as he works his or her way up, by taking him or her first, to a few short nature walks around your area of residence. After successful walks, you can then take the dog to very brief hikes then to half day hikes. It is highly advisable that this procedure should be a gradual process.

Not all dogs are used to being on a leash. With close similarities to the half day hikes, you can always begin by confining him or her for small durations of time. Since the dog is new to the confining, he or she is going to require a little bit of practice so that he can learn that everything is fine even when he or she is restrained. For individuals who will be using tents, it is also very important for your dog to get used to staying in a tent. Like all the other aspects discussed above, practice is the key.

Dog camping kit

Once the dog is both physically and mentally ready for the trip, it is essential for you, as a dog owner to have a packing list. A packing list is significant because, it not only reminds us of all the items that can be useful but also the chances of us forgetting anything are very minimal.

Furthermore, packing lists are also going to instill some form of organization because we can always cross-check with the list from the top to bottom, to ensure that everything important has been packed. By using a packing list, we are also going to save more time because they tend to make the packing process, way simpler and shorter.

Hence, when packing the various items that are necessary during the trip, you can always use this checklist outlined below:

  • ID tags and a strong fitted collar for your dog.
  • A sturdy leash for walking the dog
  • Harness for hiking and tying
  • Crate: if he or she is comfortable with a crate
  • Special treats to be used when you will require your dog’s attention
  • Poop bags
  • Water dishes and food
  • A stake just in case there is nothing around to tie your pet.
  • All the necessary bedding’s for the pet.
  • A safety for his or her dog collar
  • A first aid kit. If you do not have one, you can always purchase one online.
  • A sweater or a jacket especially for older dogs, short-coated dogs, and puppies
  • Tick key and brush for eliminating ticks, debris, and leaves.
  • Contact information for the nearest vet.

Factors to be observed while on the road

While on the road, you must be aware that Fido is going to require regular breaks from time to time. When deprived of these breaks, dogs tend to get car sick so the fresh air is vital. So as to ensure an unremitting supply of fresh air, all the windows in the vehicle must be rolled at all times or if not at least have a pet vent installed. A pet-vent is a modifiable grill that is placed in between the glass and the window frames and are ideal for dogs.

If you do not have a pet-vent already installed in your vehicle, you can alternatively decide to leave all the windows six inches down. All in all the station wagons and four-wheel drives are the most suitable vehicles for transporting pets. As a precautionary measure, always ensure that all pets are transported on the rear seats and not the front ones. For maximum safety, you can always purchase a safety harness from the nearest pet shop though they are not a legal prerequisite.

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Furthermore, the periodic stops can also be used as toilet breaks. As an ideal pet owner, it is your sworn duty to collect any droppings that your dog might leave behind. Pets love having various items, like toys, with them, and it is one of the main reason toys must always be on your checklist. Needless to say, you should always ensure that while you are on the road, your pet feeds from time to time and also takes lots of water. The water is essential because it will ensure that he or she does not become dehydrated while traveling.

Finally, you should never leave your pet in the car, alone at any one point due to safety reasons and health issues. Always ensure that the vehicle’s air conditioning system is in good condition and is always running at all times.

Reasons why you should take your dog camping

Needless to say, any dog breed is always going to enjoy being outdoors for prolonged number of hours. The unconditional love for the outsides is mainly because the campsite is a new environment for him or her to explore without lots of restrictions. Furthermore, tagging your dog along for the trip is always going to do him well instead of leaving him or her, confined to a kennel or under the care of a babysitter.

All in all, it is indispensable that all dog owners must be able to establish as to whether the desired destination allows dogs. If the preferred destination is not dog-friendly, then you can always go back to the drawing board before experiencing any complication or frustrations later on.

Another reason you should take your pets camping is: they can be an extra source of protection during the excursion. Due to their fantastic hearing and smell senses, dogs always provide you and your family a real sense of protection, especially during the night hours. They are not only going to alert you if there are strange people within the vicinity but they are also going to scare any intruders who may be in the campsite.

Camping trips are also perfect for training. If the dog is still undergoing some form of training or if you have a puppy, you can tag him or her along. These sites are ideal training grounds for social skills, and also they present a perfect opportunity for you to challenge his or her newly acquired skill. Also, such sites will always the perfect opportunity for you to monitor their progress because you are going to spend more time with them than you previously did. If you like to run on trails, our previous article on dogs that are great running buddies is an excellent material to read.

If the dog has a tendency of chasing birds and squirrels, you can choose to use this opportunity to train him. Good canine manners and behavior will always go a long way in creating good will and increased tolerance to canine presence. As an accountable pet owner, it is your responsibility to know your dog’s behavior and personality.

Dog friendly campsites

Nonetheless, you should be aware of the various situations that may either provoke or cause him or her to act strangely. You should at all times be fully aware of what is going around you so that you can prevent and control the various situations that may cause the dog to be frightened or anxious. If there is even a slightest opportunity of someone getting injured by the dog, then you should sit down and consider your options.

All in all, camping sites are the most suitable locations for every dog owner to not only spend time with his or her dog, but to also study their behavior and train them meritoriously.

Guiding principles for maximum safety on the trip

Managing the noise level during the trip

Just like the way loud music can be a nuisance to your neighbors, wildlife and other campers, the incessant barking of a dog is not only frustrating but also annoying. If your dog enjoys being vocal, you can always distract him by playing tricks-for-treats.

Hence, this is why carrying treats when camping is very important. If it is the people in the vicinity or the wildlife that may be upsetting him or her there are various alternatives that you can employ. First and foremost, you can try to put him in a tent with a treat. Alternatively, you can also block his or her view of whatever the trigger is temporary until the dog can calm down.

Supervision

Despite the fact that most campsites will require that all dogs should be restrained in some ways, it is very important to ensure that the pet is always under supervision. If the dog has a tendency of chasing after things or bolting, it is very prudent to ensure that he or she is attached to a harness and not a collar. Dogs that may charge towards a wild animal may end up being harmed if their collar will stay intact after they reach the end of the rope at maximum speed.

Furthermore, ensuring that he is restrained or under supervision will prevent him from mixing with dangerous wildlife such as venomous snakes, skunks or porcupines. If you cannot restrain your pet, you should always make a point that he or she is always under supervision at all times.

Hydration

While on your trip, it is highly advisable to ensure that your dog is fully hydrated at all times, especially during the day. Water and shade are essential to any dog because they play a key role in preventing pets from overheating and dehydration. Before you leave your house, it is very imperative to carry lots of water for you and your dog. During the trip, you should always be on the watch out for various signs such as excessive panting. Our piece on finding out the right amount of water to give your dog will give you tips to keep Fido hydrated.

Excessive panting indicates that your dog is a distress call, and it indicates that your dog is overheating or is on the verge of getting dehydrated. Also, you should ensure that your dog does not drink from stagnant water bodies such as puddles or ponds. Standing water bodies are sources of viruses, bacteria, and parasites, which can make your pet very ill. If your dog gets ill, you should make a point of contacting a vet immediately. Hence, when packing your dog’s water always ensure that it is similar to the one you will be drinking and if not, it should be purified.

Warmth

A dog’s natural fur coat does not make him or her cold proof, especially during the cold evening temperatures. Before you go to sleep, always ensure that his or her pillow or pad has been placed on top of a tarp, to prevent the pillow from getting moist. Also, you can always provide an extra blanket or sweater if there is a need to. For individuals who are extremely close to their animals, you can always sleep on the inside the tent.

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When you decide to leave your pet out in the open, there are numerous nocturnal critters that you will not want him or her to bump into them. Placing your dog inside the tent is also highly advisable, because irrespective of the dog’s location, it still retains its excellent hearing and smell senses. If you decide that he should sleep on the outside, and then make a point of ensuring that a barrier has been installed.

Dogs outside tent

The barrier should be placed in a manner that it will prevent the interaction between your pet and any other animal or animals that may come to explore the campsite. Nonetheless, it is essential to ensure that there is a good balance between the dog being your alarm system and keeping him far from danger.

Keeping an eye on your dog’s level of activity

While on your trip, you should always keep an on your dog’s activity level! Make a point of ensuring that he or she is not overly exerting himself or herself. Despite the fact that plenty of exercises is healthy and fun, most dogs may keep on going without showing any signs of fatigue. The non-working dog breeds are notorious for not showing signs of fatigue.

Excessive accumulation of fatigue can always lead to either stroke, over tiredness or in some instances other health issues. Always pay attention to the dog’s level of energy. Also, you must always slow down the fun when he starts to appear as if he or she is slowly drifting away.

Vaccination and ID tags

Before going on a journey always ensure that your pet is not only vaccinated but also his or her vaccines are up to date. You can read more about this in our guide on what vaccines your dog needs. The vaccination is a requirement because any dog is always going to be in constant contact with people and other pets. Also, you should always request your vet contact to ensure that he or she has been given a Lyme injection just in case he or she comes into contact with ticks.

Apart from the vaccinations, it is essential to attach an ID tag and a rabies tag on the dog’s collar. Furthermore, it is also an excellent idea to include a temporary tag that will have your camp site information and cell phone number. The campsite information should include the number of days and dates, from the beginning and end of your stay so that your dog is always to get back if he breaks away.

Finally, as a dog owner, you must always be on the lookout for ticks, scratches, and cuts on the foxtails of the noses and ears, seeds, and paw-pads. You may want to read our article on first aid kits for dogs to see what you need to bring in your next camping trip.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.

  • May Walker

    We’re running out of summer trip ideas, but this very article convinced me to pitch the camping one. I appreciated the checklist and the in-depth guide on camping with dogs. I like to think it would be a good bonding exercise as a dog-loving family!

  • Alice Moore

    Honestly, before any trip involving one’s dog outdoors, it’s important that the dog is sufficiently trained. I cannot stress this enough. The dog may be hurt, the owner may be in an uncomfortable situation, etc. It sure is a good way to reinforce training, but I also believe the dog may be overwhelmed. Better safe than sorry, I say.

  • Emily Pearson

    These are all helpful practices but I would like to add being able to disable traps and snares. While the likelihood of your pooch being caught in one is not very high on the list, it remains a possibility that you must be prepared for. Try familiarizing yourself with how they work and keep note on how to get them off your dog. And most of all, stay safe!

  • Winona Matthews

    I’m thinking of taking my Golden Retriever camping in a few months. I’m preparing a list right now of the possible things I should be bringing. If you went camping with your dog, how did it go?

    I’m taking the following things:

    — doggy backpack for long hikes
    — collar, leash, tags, harness
    — cable tie out
    — food and water
    — collapsible dog bowls

    Any suggestions of other things that I should take?

  • Bruce Morgan

    I think every dog loves camping. It brings them to the wild atmosphere when they are in contact with nature, trees, grass, other animals. They really love these feelings. But of course don’t forget about sweaters and toys.

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