Whether you are seasoned camper who likes to rough it or a car camper that stays a bit closer to civilization, you can enrich the outdoor experience by bringing along your pooch. After all, your pet is a member of the family, and nothing beats family camping.
Dogs can be wonderful camping companions, but you’ll need to do a little extra preparation to make sure that your dog is welcome and you are prepared for the unexpected. You also want to take some time to make sure your dog is ready for all the adventure that you’ll be experiencing.
- Make sure that you know the rules and regulations. Not all sites are pet-friendly, and most have some type of leash restrictions. You may be able to find a spot in a campground that has a spot dedicated to off-leash hiking.
- Check in with the vet before you leave. Even if your dog has been to the veterinarian recently, you should check to see that all inoculations and medicines are in order. Bring a copy of your dog’s shot records along just in case. Your vet can also give you advice on any special considerations your dog might need.
- Pack mindfully and wisely. When bringing your dog, you’ll need some extra supplies. You need food, toys, and treats as well as a tie out. If your dog usually sleeps in a crate, you should bring that along. Depending on the dog, you may want to consider bringing their bed along.
- Brush up on camping etiquette. Always aim to leave no trace, and that includes making sure you clean up after your dog. Be sure to bring along pickup bags.
- Prepare for messes and emergencies. Extra towels and blankets will come in handy should your dog find the water, mud, or other messy areas. If you have a long-haired dog, be sure to bring along snippers to remove burrs or other debris that can tangle their coat. In addition to human first aid supplies, be sure to include pet specific items. There are ready-made kits available, or you can assemble your own.
- Practice first. If your dog is not an experienced camper, be sure to try it out in the backyard a few times. Like people, not all dogs have the temperament for camping. Practicing close to home will give you an idea of what challenges you might face.
- Determine your sleeping arrangements. It is best to have your dog sleep near you since it is difficult to predict what wildlife may appear during the night.
- Know your dog’s limits. Just like people, all dogs are not created equal. Exuberant pups need a little different schedule than senior dogs, so think about what your dog likes to do and what his or her stamina is. Consider the types of activities with which your dog has experience. Plan for the weather and be sure to take your dog’s health into consideration.
With a bit of planning, you can create the perfect camping experience for your entire family. Your dog will be happy that you decided to include everyone, and you’ll have a great time seeing how your pet reacts to their new surroundings. So, let’s get packing and hit the trail!