Thinking about taking your dog camping? Our friend Kevin from The Bark Buzz is here with everything you need to know to make it a success! Check it out!
If you enjoy camping by yourself or with friends, then you’ll love bringing your dog with to explore the outdoors. I take my dog on all sorts of camping adventures and couldn’t imagine going without him.
Over the years I have learned a lot about how to make the experience a safe and enjoyable one. Growing up I went camping a lot and have learned that planning is everything. If you’re prepared, then you’re much more likely to have a good time and avoid catastrophe. In the following article we will discuss some tips for taking your dog camping.
Guide to Taking Your Dog Camping
How to plan for your outing
When you are planning your trip the first item to check is that the location you plan to visit allows dogs. Some campgrounds and trails have strict no dog policies. You don’t want to spend all that time planning and traveling only to find out that the campground doesn’t allow dogs.
Another item to consider before you start planning is whether your dog is ready and able to go camping. How do they act at a dog park or on a walk when around other dogs or people? If you have to spend your whole time keeping your dog under control or tied up because they might run away, you might want to reconsider taking your dog camping. Some territorial small breed dogs such as Schnauzers and Yorkies can be very vocal about protecting their camp and annoy other campers.
If this is the first time you’re taking your dog camping, plan for a short trip that’s nearby. This way if anything comes up and you have to leave and go home, it won’t be as big of an issue. I suggest going somewhere you’ve been before where you can camp next to your car.
Once you’ve taken these suggestions into consideration it’s time to prepare for your trip! Much like camping by yourself or with friends, preparation is everything. Forgetting items you need can put a huge damper on your enjoyment.
Creating a checklist for items you need to bring is a good way to avoid forgetting something you need. Here is a list of items you might want to bring with for your dog: food, water, bowls for food and water, leash & harness, treats, medicine (if your dog is taking any), crate, towels for your dog/car seat coverings, dog clothes or rain gear, outdoor toys and an exercise pen or dog tent.
A simple first aid kit will have everything you need to treat any minor injuries your dog might incur. It’s easy for your dog to hurt or damage their paws when running around outside. Be sure to take a look at their paw pads during down time even if they aren’t showing signs of injury or discomfort.
How to care for your dog at the campground
You just pulled into your camping space and are excited to get out of the car and check out your spot. If you’re excited, imagine how pumped your dog is to be at this new place with all these new smells! Before you let them out of the car make sure you have their harness and leash attached and they are under your control.
No matter how obedient your dog is, the inundation of smells and a new place can cause your dog to ignore you and obey their instincts to run (especially if there are other dogs or small critters in the area).
Once you have them under your control and let them out of the car, take them for a walk around the perimeter of your camping area. They will want to investigate and mark their territory, so give them this opportunity right away, otherwise you might find them extra distracted and anxious while you’re trying to unpack and setup camp.
While setting up camp and unloading your car, make sure your dog is tied off nearby. As stated before, no matter how obedient your dog normally is, being outside creates lots of new challenges for both you and your dog.
Taking care of your dog while camping
Trying to get your dog to eat their regular food when you’re out camping can be a difficult task. If your dog is a picky eater then you might find it even more difficult. You can bring some wet food with and mix it with dry food to entice them to eat their regular food.
One tip that I’ve found to be very helpful is to feed your dog before you start preparing your meal. You can’t expect your pooch to be enthusiastic about eating dry kibble when you have a juicy piece of food cooking on the grill. Like most of us, you’ll probably give in and let your dog have a bite of your food, which is ok, but if they haven’t eaten their food yet, put it in their dish mixed in with their food to entice them to eat. You should also bring along their favorite treats and use them to distract your dog from begging for a piece of food.
You can decide whether you want your dog to sleep in your tent with you or in your car. This will largely depend on your tent size and available room. Smaller dogs can curl up with you more easily, but if you have room, you can put your dog’s bed in the tent with you. If your dog is going to sleep in your car, make sure to wipe off their paws, underside and anywhere else they’ve gotten dirty to avoid tracking it into your car.
Another tip I learned the hard way is to make sure they go to the bathroom before going to sleep. This is usually less of an issue if they’re sleeping next to you in your tent. If they’re in your car you might wake up to an unpleasant surprise (which is not fun to smell while driving home for several hours). If you’re planning to have your dog sleep in your car you’ll want to bring some cleaning spray and extra paper towels just in case.
Remember to have fun!
Whether you’re planning to relax next to a lake or go on a hike, the most important part of camping is to have fun! Bring plenty of toys and activities for you and your dog. They will be happy just to be outside and in a new place.
The more times you take your dog camping, the more familiar you’ll become with what they and you are comfortable with. You’ll be forming a more solid bond with your dog and learning what types of places they can handle.