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It’s camping season! And there’s no reason your dog can’t enjoy camping as much as you do! Whether you camp in a tent, RV, or trailer, you can do things to make camping a pleasant experience for your dog – and you too. In this article, we’ll give you our best tips and tricks for camping with dogs.
Whether you’re an experienced camper or just thinking about it, camping with dogs takes a bit more planning. But it’s worth it! It will make your best friends’ camping experience (and yours too!) all that much better.
Camping With Dogs: Tips, Tricks, and Suggestions
Plan your camping trip with your dog’s personality in mind.
If you have a lap dog that loves to nap, you’ll want to make sure they have a comfortable space and quiet time. But if your dog is full of energy and loves running outside, they need plenty of space and time to exercise. Think about their likes and dislikes and how you can make camping a comfortable and enjoyable experience for them.
Your dog’s needs should guide your camping set-up too. Make sure you have plenty of space for your dog inside your tent or camper. Suppose your dog is sensitive to heat, noise, and activity. In that case, tent camping in a busy campground during July probably won’t be a good experience for them.
Consider your dog’s experience in the outdoors.
Have they been on long hiking adventures? Do they love to explore? How are they with other people and dogs? Have they ever been camping?
For more experienced dogs, extended camping trips might be okay. But if your dog hasn’t ever camped, start with a quick overnight or weekend trip to get them (and you!) acclimated. Take them for a short hike. And expose them to some typical sights and sounds of camping—fires, food, critters, and other campers. A brief trip is also a great time to test out your gear and see what else you might need to pack along.
Train for the outdoors.
Outdoors training will help you find your dog if you get separated and help protect them from dangerous situations. Wildlife, fire, and inedible objects are just a few of the dangers training can help your dog avoid. If you plan to take your dog camping, your dog must come when called. Make sure they respond to you and listen to commands to “leave it.”
Know the rules.
Some campgrounds don’t allow dogs. And those that do often have rules about leashes and picking up after your pet.
Make sure the campground allows dogs before heading out. Most public parks allow dogs (but not all!). Yet, some privately-owned campgrounds are more strict with their pet policies. Know the rules before you get there by checking the campground website or calling ahead.
Take along a first-aid kit.
Being in nature is more unpredictable than being at home. Your dog could more easily get hurt or eat something they shouldn’t. So it’s a good idea to prepare for emergencies.
When traveling anywhere with your dog, take their vet contact info, vaccination history, and photo. And when camping or hiking with your dog, take first-aid supplies.
You can buy a pet first-aid kit or make your own. How much you need depends on what type of camping you do. If you backpack, you’ll want to be more prepared than if you’re spending a weekend close to home. According to Outside Magazine, here are some things to include:
- Multi-tool with pliers (for thorns or quills)
- Tick remover (tweezers or tick nipper)
- Benedryl (they recommend 2mg per pound body weight every 8 hours)
- Styptic pencil (to help stop minor bleeding)
- Medical stapler (in case of deep wounds)
- Muzzle (or something that could serve as a muzzle, like a bandana)
- Mylar emergency blanket
- Paw protection (booties, in case your dog injures a foot)
- Pain meds (buffered aspirin is usually safe for dogs, but ask your vet first!)
- Foldable bowl and electrolyte powder
Pack doggy camping gear.
Your dog will need the basics: food and water bowls and a comfortable place to sleep. You’ll also need a leash, collar with tags, and a harness. Beyond that, pack along treats and toys to keep your dog happy and entertained.
It’s up to you how far you want to go with the doggy camping gear. You can stick to the basics or spoil your dog with some extra special camping accessories! There are sleeping bags, lighted collars, and even backpacks for dogs! And if you’re out on the water, you might want a doggy lifejacket too.
And here’s an idea we love (and just recently discovered)! Use a zip line to attach your dog’s leash so that they can move about the campsite. This, my friends, is the solution to those pesky tie-outs. No more wrapping around lawn chairs and picnic tables! When using a zip line, hook it to a harness, not a collar. And, of course, you still need to supervise your pet at all times. But it allows you to be more hands-off when you’re chilling at the campground! Here’s an excellent tutorial on making a zipline for your dog. Or you can buy a nice trolley system on Amazon.
Take cues from your dog.
Watch your dog and see if they’re happy or distressed, and adjust your camping plans accordingly. Don’t push your dog to hike too far or let them get overheated—take frequent breaks in the shade and offer water often. It’s best to take it slow and learn your dog’s limits rather than push them.
When you’re camping with your dog (and even when you’re not), you want to have good camping etiquette! Pick up after your dog, leave the campsite clean, and dispose of trash and poop appropriately. Also, respect your neighbors and abide by campground rules.
Fellow campers won’t mind your dog at all if they are well-behaved. Reward your dog for good behavior and keep them entertained with toys. And remember, not everyone is comfortable around dogs. Make sure your dog stays at your campsite.
Takeaways on Camping With Dogs
There you have it—our tips, tricks, and suggestions for camping with dogs. The most important takeaways are to prepare, plan your trip, and respect your dog’s needs! We hope this information helps make your camping trip a fantastic outdoor experience for you and your dog.
Camping in Des Moines? Check out Camping in Des Moines: Your Guide to Local Campgrounds!
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