Camping is an extremely fun activity when you do it with your dog. However, making it fun is only possible if you have the right tools and understanding of how camping with dogs works. There are many things that you need to be prepared for and take full precautions to avoid unnecessary incidents. Depending on your situation, that can be anything at all so being completely prepared is your only option.
With a proper guide of to help you, not only can you make sure that your trip is incident-free, but you can also make it one of the best camping trips you have ever had. To help you out with that, we are sharing 11 tips that we think are essential to know, understand, and act upon for any dog owner going for a camping trip. The tips will be helpful in a range of different scenarios and help you out with the following things at the very least.
- Familiarizing your dog with how camping works and how to behave in that situation.
- Understanding the risks involved with heat and cold exposure, potential attacks from wild animals in the woods, and how you can avoid all those things.
- Every aspect of the preparation you and your dog need to go through before going on the trip.
- How to create the perfect checklist to ensure a trouble-free and enjoyable camping experience.
Check also: Tips for Family Camping
Now that you have clearly decided that your next trip will not involve leaving your dog with your parents or your friend, let us go through all the tips that you can use to prepare yourself adequately.
Camping with Dogs Tips & Ideas
Prepare Your Dog for the Trip
The biggest mistake you can ever make as a dog owner going camping is not preparing your pet for what lies ahead. Proper conditioning is required to make sure that you dog is fully capable of making the trip, both physically and mentally. Spending the day and probably the night out in the open can be a big challenge for your dog, especially if you live in an urban area and your dog is not used to the wilderness.
The best way to go about it is to make sure your dog is ready both mentally and physically by exposing them to the camping environment lightly. Spend a few nights camping at home with your dog to help them experience it in a safe environment. Also take them out for longer walks, preferably on a nearby park so they can get used to the physical demands as well. keeping your dog in a tent more and more frequently would help them get used to staying in a confined space as well.
Find Campsites That Are Pet-Friendly
There are a lot of camping sites that strictly prohibit bringing pets with you and there can be several different reasons for that. However, there are also several sites that are welcoming to pets and knowing which ones those are is extremely important. This is not only to avoid unnecessary complications either. Pet-friendly sites often also provide a wide range of services specifically for your pets. In case your dog is not fit for camping just yet, you can leave them at a site that provides dog-sitting services.This is service that also comes in handy if the campsite is offering certain services where your pets may not be allowed for safety reasons.
While having a site that facilitates dog owners is a great thing. Do also check for any extra charges that you may be liable to pay for bringing your dog. Make sure you are aware of and follow all the policies of the campsite as breaking them could lead to serious legal problem.
Get the OK from Your Vet
Your dog’s health is precious, and it is extremely important to make sure that you are not endangering it in any way. Schedule a visit to the vet before you start training your dog for camping to find out if it is even fit for the trip. Once you get a thumbs up from the vet, you can begin training it for the journey ahead as discussed above. However, we also recommend that you do another visit right before the trip to make sure you dog is not ill or unfit in any way.
Also make sure that your dog has had all the specific vaccinations that the campsite requires. Most campsites define the list of vaccinations that you need to give your dog before being allowed on the campsite. They would also probably ask for proof so make sure you have your dog’s updated vaccination record with you when going for camping.
Prepare All Documentation in Advance
Having complete identification information for your dog is a requirement in most campsites, both for legal and safety purposes. Proper documentation should include everything including your dog’s name, breed, physical description, and your contact details. A good way of keeping that information handy is to add it to a tag that you can put on your dog’s collar. Depending on your location, you may also be required to provide things like proof of ownership and updated pet license.
Another thing that some campsites may want is microchip information of your dog. In case your dog is not microchipped, we highly recommend that you get one immediately as it will help you out in case your dog ever gets lost. Also keep some photos of your dog in your documentation in case you need to ask people to identify it.
Make a Checklist of Dog- Specific Supplies for the Trip
Just like you would make a list of everything that you may need for yourself on your camping trip, you should also do the same for your dog. They also have plenty of requirements and missing something crucial is not good at all. In fact, in some situations that could be the difference between life and death for your dog. Think of everything that you dog may need during the trip and list them down on a notepad or your phone. Common things include collapsible bowls that you can use for feed and treats that they get for good behavior. Their basic medicine is also an important and must be with you throughout the trip.
Things like reflective jackets and leashes, collar with all your information, toys, playpens, etc. should also be included. As for organizing all this stuff, the best way in our opinion is to make a separate bag that contains only your dog’s stuff, so you do not misplace or forget anything.
Take High Energy Foods
There is no doubt about the fact that camping is a physically strenuous activity, and your dog may also drain their energy a lot more and a lot quicker than they would in their routine. This means they may need a higher calorie intake that usual and packing a heavy bag of dog food is not ideal. Therefore, we recommend that you take high energy foods for them that you can easily feed them while camping.
However, there are two things you need to be mindful of to avoid getting your dog sick. Firstly, make sure that there is at least 25% of their regular food in the diet so they do not get an upset stomach from a sudden change in diet. Secondly, you also need to make sure that the feeding times for your dog match their routine while on the camping site, so they do not get tired or upset.
Dealing with Medical Emergencies
It is a natural thing for your dog to develop a medical emergency while you are out camping. Therefore, being fully prepared if such a situation comes up is extremely necessary for their wellbeing. The most basic thing to carry would be a first aid kit for pets that can allow you to treat potential wounds that may occur during the trip. In addition to that, you also need to keep updated information with you regarding animal emergency services in the area.
You can easily find fully prepared medical kits for pets in stores or online. Even if you cannot arrange a premade one, you can easily make your own kit by getting everything you need from any store that carries pet supplies. The bottom line is that your pet’s wellbeing is entirely dependent on how prepared you are, so make sure you cover everything.
Use Large Tents
When out in the wild, the best accommodation for your dog is the tent that you bring along. To make sure that your dog remains comfortable, you can either arrange a separate tent for them or if you plan on co-sleeping, use something big. Claustrophobia can be a real problem for dogs even if they are fully trained so make sure that the tent you get is large enough to provide a comfortable environment for you and your dog. The general rule is to choose a tent that is at least 1 person more than the total number of people staying in the tent. So, if you are alone with your dog then you should get a 2-person tent, basically treating the dog as a person.
Another thing to keep in mind is to make sure that your dog does not sleep on the ground. Not only would it make them uncomfortable, but it may also put them in harm’s way potentially by exposing them to insects, etc.
Ensuring General Comfort
There are several different things that you can cover under this domain. The most basic, as mentioned earlier, is the sleeping space that you provide for your dog. Ideally your dog should have its own bed so that they can be as comfortable as you would be when sleeping. In addition to that, you should also arrange for appropriate covering to keep them warm. Camps can become incredibly cold at night and you do not want your dog to catch a cold so keep proper blankets handy.
Take utensils along for feeding your dog as well and provide them with their meals and water like you would in their routine. However, since a camping trip often involves a lot more moving around your dog will need more water than usual so make sure you have arranged for that as well. You can tell your dog is thirsty if they are excessively panting. Do not leave them out in direct sunlight for too long either as their body can overheat quite quickly.
Camping during summers can be particularly harsh on your dog’s feet. They need to keep their paws cool to enjoy and move around with you freely. You can limit their exposure to hot ground during summers and to protect them further, especially if you are in an open area, you can use dog boots as well.
Do Not Forget to Exercise Your Dog
It is a surprisingly common misconception that your dog will automatically get more exercise since you are out camping. This is not true, and you need to make sure that you are providing dedicated exercise time for them even when camping. Their bodies rely quite significantly on their routine exercise to stay healthy; the same way humans need it to avoid medical problems like obesity.
Leave No Trace
Just like you would make sure to leave no garbage at your campsite, you also need to make sure there is no dog-related waste either. The most obvious thing would be dog excrement which you need to pick up and dispose of properly. Not doing so would not only harm the environment but also be annoying for other campers. Furthermore, it would also be a source of attracting wild animals to your camp which you do not want.
The points shared here should help you prepare for your camping trip with your dog thoroughly. Be sure to follow all the instructions provided here to make sure that you trip is fun, safe, and incident-free. If you have any personal experience that you would like to share, then please do so in the comments below.