After a recent camping trip with a large group of family who had dogs and having traveled cross country with a dog one summer I noticed quite a few things that are good to keep in mind with camping with a dog. While such an idea, camping with a dog, may seem like a particularly difficult task it is actually quite possible to accomplish. In fact having a dog or two around can actually add to the camping experience. I thought that it could be useful to pass these tips on to anyone planning on taking the plunge of having their four legged friend join them in a camping trip.
What do you need to bring?
If you are planning to take your dog with you on a camping trip you will discover that there are a variety of items that you will not want to be without. It is essential that you have a sufficient supply of dog food and fresh water for your dog to enjoy during the camping trip. In this same thought bring along a dish for food, a dish for water and some rewards, such as bones or dog treats, to reinforce good behavior on the camping trip. Next it will be a good idea to have some old blankets or towels, or a dog bed of some kind if your dog is not use to sleeping outside and you are expecting some cold nights. Even if your dog will be sleeping in the tent, if the temperature is significantly colder than what your dog is use to he or she will likely need some form of a doggy bed to sleep comfortably. Also, useful is having a leash for when you are hiking or in the event you have to temporary tie up your dog. For smaller dogs a carrier can be good but should not be used extensively as your dog can become overheated. If your dog is a fan of dog toys consider packing some for the camping trip, just so man’s best friend does not become bored. No one likes to think about it, but you will be glad you did. Remember to bring the necessary equipment to clean up after your dog.
What do you need to do during the day?
A dog’s personality will greatly affect how he or she reacts to and behaves on a camping trip. Some dogs will be quick to stay close to his or her owner while others have no problem exploring vastly further than any owner’s comfort level. When you first arrive to your camp spot make sure that your dog has an understanding of boundaries. If you feel he or she is entering territory that you would prefer your dog to avoid, quickly let your pet know it with a command to return and treat to reward him or her for listening and returning promptly. If your dog is having difficulty following such rules and it is a matter of your dog’s safety or the safety of others consider temporarily keeping your dog on a leash. Put out a dish of fresh water so your pet can stay hydrated and make sure the dish maintains water throughout the day. Have all of the items you brought for your dog easily accessible so if you need anything you can get to it quickly. If you plan to go hiking or leave your campsite remember to take water for your dog, a dish to put it in, a dog leash and treats. If you need your dog to listen you will be glad you brought the treats and if your dog is refusing to listen you will be glad you brought the leash. If you will be gone from your campsite for a duration that extends past a feeding period for your dog be sure to bring him or her some food as well. Since it can be tricky knowing how your dog will act in a new environment keep a vigilant eye on your pet at all time.
What do you need to do during the night?
While it would seem likely that your dog would be happy to lay down, fall asleep and sleep through the night on your camping trip this is not always the case. This is not to say that it can be the case and for many experienced camping pets it is the case. In the event that it is not smooth sailing for you and your pet here are some helpful tips. If it is safe to do so keep your dog on a leash with plenty of room to roam around through the night if you are worried that he or she could wander off while you are sleeping. Consider allowing the dog to sleep in the tent with you and if the night is going to be cold make sure your dog has an adequate bed for warmth. Encourage your dog to go outside to relieve his or herself before closing up the tent for the night, this can help avoid a middle of the night wake up call because your dog is in need of a potty area. Make sure that your dog can not exit the tent if this is not safe. While it may seem that simply zipping up the tent is all that is necessary, some dogs can still get out. No they do not take the zipper in their paw and unzip the entrance to the tent like we do but some can use their nose and paw to slowly move the zipper up until the opening is big enough to fit through. If your dog is like this consider placing your bed in front of the tent entrance or if your tent is designed where two zippers are close to one another you can use a simple luggage lock and key to keep your dog from getting out. As soon you are awake, or your dog is, take him or her out of the tent to avoid any accidents and fill up the dog’s watering dish for the day.
Camping with your dog can be a lot of fun and can actually be quite practical. Of course if you are not prepared the experience could be quite unpleasant. You may find that your mellow dog is a little more excited than usual in such a new environment. Likewise, you may find that you are generally hyper dog is extremely excited to be where he or she is at the campsite. Quiet dogs may be compelled to bark and lazy dogs may be inclined to explore and even run around the area. If you are prepared for your dog’s behavior and for his or her needs the trip can be quite fun. Plus by having your dog with you on the camping trip you can save money by not needing a dog sitter and you have your best four-legged friend with you during a fun pastime.