Going camping with your dog can add an extra layer of fun! But, just like all other parts of caring for your dog, bringing your dog along with you on camping trips comes with its own responsibilities. Whether you’ve camped with your pup before or not, it’s important to know what to keep in mind for a fun and safe trip. Here are some tips for camping with your dog:
1. Make Sure Your Dog is Fit for the Trip
Before you head off on any trip or try a new activity, it’s important to make sure your dog is up for the challenge.
Consider the Breed
Some dog breeds are better suited to outdoor activities than others. All dogs are sensitive to heat and brachycephalic dogs are sensitive to both heat and overexertion, so you will want to be careful about camping in warm weather.
At the same time, a dog that is prone to bark at everything may not be the best camping companion. Dogs with an urge to wander and a high prey drive will need some extra considerations and a sturdy, secure harness and leash to keep them from chasing wild animals.
Visit the Vet
Before planning your camping trip, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with your vet for a general check-up. You want to make sure your dog is healthy, up to date on all of their vaccinations, and up to date on their heartworm, flea, and tick prevention. You can also get copies of any necessary paperwork you may need while traveling.
On top of that, your vet can identify any further considerations you will need to address related to your dog’s breed, age, personal health history, and more. If needed, they can also help you create an exercise plan to get your dog in shape and ready to tackle the outdoors.
Work up to Vigorous Activity
Camping and hiking usually go together and you want to make sure your dog can handle the activity. Start off with what your dog is used to and work up to more vigorous activity from there.
If your dog has led a mostly sedentary lifestyle, you will want to start an exercise program to help them get in shape before your camping trip. If they’re already a hiking champion, then you can keep doing what you’ve been doing unless the hikes you’re planning are more challenging than what they are used to.
2. Choose a Dog-Friendly Camping Site
Not all campgrounds welcome dogs and some only have a limited number of dog-friendly camping sites available. So, it’s important to do your research and to reserve your camping site early to make sure both you and your dog will be welcome. You can also scope out some dog-friendly things to do nearby to add some variety to your trip.
You will also want to familiarize yourself with any campground-specific rules and guidelines both in general and specific to dogs. Some campgrounds allow dogs inside buildings and others don’t. Some have strict leash regulations, rules for specific hiking trails, and other rules that need to be followed. You want to know what these are before you go and be prepared to follow them.
3. Microchip Your Dog and Consider a GPS Tracker
Camping with your dog can be a fun adventure, but there is always a chance that your dog could get lost in an unfamiliar place. Microchipping your dog and making sure the contact information associated with it is accurate before you go can be a safety net.
It’s also a good idea to get a GPS tracker for your dog before heading off on a trip. If your dog does run off or get lost, you have a better chance of tracking them down quickly if they have a GPS tracker. And, if they happen to end up in a shelter before you can find them, the microchip information will let the shelter know that your dog belongs to a family and allows them to get in contact with you.
4. Pack the Right Gear
You need the right camping gear for yourself and you also need to pack the right gear for your dog. In addition to plenty of food and water, it’s also a good idea to have a first aid kit, waste bags, brushes and combs, and towels. Things like a sturdy harness and leash, tether and stake, collapsible water and food bowls, dog boots, and other outdoor adventure products for dogs are also important.
You also want to pack some comfort items like a dog bed, a few of their favorite toys, and more. All of these items can help make your dog more comfortable on rough terrain and in an unfamiliar place, help make it easier for you to give them what they need, and also help keep them safe.
5. Pace Yourself on Hikes
When you’re hiking with your dog, make sure to pace yourself. This is important for both you and your dog. Take breaks as often as you need to and pay attention to your dog for signs of overexertion.
Oftentimes, a dog will try to keep up with you even when they shouldn’t. So, if you notice your dog looking tired, take the opportunity to stop, sit down, rest, rehydrate, and enjoy the view.
6. Check Your Dog for Pests
Anytime you venture outside and especially into the woods, you and your dog are at risk of getting Lyme Disease and other insect-borne diseases. It makes sense to be careful, take precautions before you go, and regularly check for ticks and other pests when you’re there.
Even if your dog is on preventive treatments, you still want to check over them. Checking for pests before you and your dog enter the tent and after each hike or trip out into the woods can help prevent bites and other issues.
7. Practice Good Campsite Etiquette
Most campgrounds have rules regarding dogs at a campsite and following them often means practicing good campsite etiquette. In general, you want to make sure your dog is leashed or tethered any time they are outside of your tent to keep them safe and to keep them out of other campsites. They should not be left unattended or unsupervised and you need to clean up after them.
These are just a few tips for camping with your dog that can help you make the trip a fun and safe one for you both. Depending on where you’re planning to go, you can take a look at some dog-friendly travel guides for noteworthy things nearby!