Camping with Canine Friends
Camping season is right around the corner (hint, hint Mother Nature) and is a fun adventure to share with our canine companions. Most dogs love to get out and explore the world around them… and what better way than to take them camping? Camping provides plenty of new sights, sounds and smells for them to get out of their daily routine and nose around. If you want a tired pup for the start of the work week, take them camping. Guaranteed they will be resting peacefully while you are back at work.
Before hitting the road with your pup(s), there is some preparation to help ensure a safe and happy adventure for all. Is camping a good fit for your dog? You will want to evaluate your pet’s personality. Do you have a highly active, social dog? Do you have a couch potato? Do you have a fearful dog? Not all dogs, the same as people, will enjoy camping. I have two furry boys that will not let my camper leave the yard without them, but I have friends with a dog that prefers to stay home and get spoiled by Grandma and Grandpa instead of camping. Even though you may want your dog to join you, it may not always in be in their best interest.
After deciding if your dog is a good fit for camping, what type of campground would be best? Campgrounds can range from over the top bustling with activity to quiet and off the beaten path. Depending on what your plans are and what situations you think your dog would do best in should help you make this decision.
Once a campground has been decided upon, make sure to research their pet policies. Campgrounds are typically pet friendly, but better safe than sorry. Be aware of the designated pet friendly and no pets allowed areas. Please be considerate of your camp neighbors, keep your pet on a leash, do not leave them unattended at the campsite and make sure to pick up after your pet. These are just a few common policies most campgrounds have in place.
You will want to make sure your dog is comfortable with your camping arrangements (tent/camper). If you have a tent, you want to ensure it is big enough to fit all occupants including your furry companion. Most large breed dogs can be considered the size of one person. For example, if you have a two person tent and two people and one dog, you may want to look into a larger tent to ensure everyone can sleep peacefully. We all know how our dogs like to stretch out. If it gets cold at night your pet will need extra warmth as well, so don’t forget their blankets…unless of course they like to cozy up to you in your bed. If you have a camper, decide where your dog will sleep. Whether it be with you, on a dog bed or one of the extra beds, let them hang out there to get familiar. Spending a night or two at home in your tent or camper with the dog is a great way to get them acquainted with their new travelling home. This will help them have a comfort zone when in a new campsite. I had my two current dogs hangout a couple of days with me while I set up my new camper (see included picture) and then we spent the next few nights in the camper, in the driveway. Now I can’t keep them out of the camper anytime I have to enter it! They love it and feel safe in it wherever it may take us.
What should one pack for their companions? This list is endless, but a few must haves, food, water, treats, dishes, leashes (4-6 feet preferably), tie-outs, toys, poop bags, bed/resting place, first aid kit and etc. This list could go on and on. Light up collars are great for visibility at night along with a light (flashlight or headlamp) for you to use for nightly potty breaks. Make sure their contact info is up to date on their collar tags and that their collars fit properly. Also, if you have not microchipped your pet, you may want to contemplate the idea. Your pet will be in new situations that you do not know how they may react. A microchip will help to get them back home safely if they were to slip away.
Camping is a great way to get away from it all with your pet. Remember, it may not be for all dogs, but for those that enjoy it, get out there and enjoy it with them. It is a great way to continue building your bond with your furry companion and get that much needed relaxation from the day to day hustle and bustle.