Camping has been a favorite activity of mine since I was a kid. Once I finally got my own dog when I was older, I couldn’t wait to bring my new pup with me to explore the outdoors.
As I have learned from experience, preparation is vital for ensuring you have a great experience camping. If you plan for a variety of situations to occur, you’ll be better equipped to deal with them if they arise. In this article I will discuss some tips for taking your dog camping and making it an enjoyable time.
Before you leave your house in search of a new adventure, you must confirm that dogs are allowed at your destination. Several campgrounds and trails prohibit animals for a variety of reasons, so be sure to check that bringing your dog with is allowed.
If this is your first time taking your dog camping, you shouldn’t plan a long trip far out in the wilderness. Take your dog to a state park or other nearby campground for the weekend and see how she behaves.
If your dog likes being outside, chances are she’ll love camping. This doesn’t mean that she will be a good camping companion, however, which is why it’s best to make the first trip a short and easy one. If your dog isn’t obedient or can’t stay near your camp on her own, then you might need to reconsider where you can take your dog.
Just as you should prepare for a variety of situations to occur when you go camping, the same applies when you bring your dog. Here is a list of items you should bring with for your dog: food, water, bowls for food and water, a leash and harness, treats, medicine (if your dog is taking any), towels for your dog, car seat coverings, a crate (if your dog is crate trained), dog clothes or rain gear (depending on what the weather will be like where you’re camping), outdoor toys, and an exercise pen or dog tent.
Double-check that your first aid kit is fully stocked. The excitement of a new place can lead to all sorts of minor injuries for both you and your dog. Their paws are most at risk for getting injured from stepping on something, so be sure to inspect them even if your dog isn’t showing signs of pain or discomfort. The most common injuries are minor scratches or cuts, so make sure you have antibiotic ointment and plenty of different-sized bandages.
Arriving at the Campground
Your dog will likely be overly excited about arriving at a new place (with so many new smells!). Make sure you attach her harness and leash before exiting the car so you can have better control over her in the new environment.
A dog will want to explore every inch of a new place, so it’s best to take her on a short walk around your camping area when you arrive. Let her sniff and mark, but maintain control of where your dog goes and don’t let her pull you off course.
When you get around to unpacking your vehicle, make sure your dog is tied off nearby so she won’t run away. Even if you’re confident that your dog won’t run, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Activities and Caring for Your Dog while Camping
With the introduction of a new place and new smells, you might find that your dog isn’t interested in eating the regular food you brought on the trip. If your dog is already a picky eater, it might be even harder to get her interested in anything other than what you’re cooking (this doesn’t seem to be much of a problem with most Labs, who eat pretty much anything).
You might want to bring a bit of wet food along to entice her to eat her own food. It’s also best to feed your dog before you start making a meal for yourself. Like most of us, you’ll probably cave and give her a bite of your food, but try to mix it with her own food if she hasn’t eaten any. You should also leave out a bowl of water at all times. A dog’s water can get dirty much easier when outside, so make sure her bowl has clean water in it.
There are a number of fun activities you can do with your dog while camping, such as playing fetch or going for a hike. But no matter what you do, always be aware of your surroundings and make sure you aren’t creating any dangerous situations for your dog (or other people’s dogs). Make sure you’re not playing fetch near a steep drop off or cliff edge.
Depending on your sleeping arrangements you can either have your dog sleep in your tent or have her sleep in your car. If she has a bed, bring it along to make her feel more comfortable about sleeping in a new place. Make sure to clean off her paws or anywhere else she may have accumulated dirt or mud before bringing her to bed or putting her in your car.
Prepare to Have Fun
Preparation is the key to having an enjoyable experience camping with your dog. If you plan ahead for difficult situations, you can spend less time worrying and more time enjoying nature.
A camping trip with your dog also presents a great training opportunity, as you’ll get to test your dog’s obedience in a very distracting environment. Always keep an eye on your dog and keep her under your control. Being outside means unexpected things can happen, and the faster you can respond, the more likely you will be able to address a small problem before it becomes a bigger one.
Once you go camping with your dog one time you’ll never want to go without her again. My experience is always much better when I have my four-legged friend with me, and I’m sure yours will too if you remember to follow these tips!