Dogs almost always love the out-of-doors. If your normal habitat is an apartment or a small house in a suburban setting, your dog is likely to be enthusiastic about a day or two in the country.
With that said, a city dog might not know much about the country. Your canine friend’s safety and well-being will be your responsibility if you want to camp with a dog while you’re out exploring the world.
Camping with Dogs Hacks
Here are some of the steps you should take if you want to camp with your dog outdoors:
1. Train Your Dog
Before taking your dog anywhere, even the local park, engage in basic obedience training. This is for your safety and for his or hers.
Your dog should:
- Always come when called. Even if you don’t plan to let your dog off the lead, accidents do happen.
- Walk politely on a lead. Most places have leash laws.
- Obey the command “leave it”, meaning leave that (whatever it is) alone. This is good for your dog’s health and will help prevent the “look at me roll on the dead carcass, now don’t I smell great” problem.
Basic obedience training plus good socialization will mean that your dog will behave politely at a crowded campground.
If you’re unsure how your dog will behave around people and other dogs, seek out dog parks and stores that allow pets, as well as walking around your neighborhood before trying a camping adventure.
2. Vaccinate the Pet
Make sure your dog is up to date on all vaccines, and have proof of ownership and vaccinations with you. This is for your canine friend’s protection, as well as your own.
Dog tags and rabies tags are a must. Other vaccines are important as well, especially since you’re likely to be going to areas where other dogs have been.
This creates an opportunity for contagion. One bout of parvo with a beloved pooch will convince anyone of the value of vaccinations.
3. Go to a Dog-Friendly Campsite
Call ahead and seek out dog-friendly campgrounds and resorts.
Dogs aren’t welcome at all parks or locations. An afternoon on the telephone planning can save a lot of tears and frustration later on.
You want the best possible experience for you both, and that means making sure you’re both welcome.
4. Get a Dog Leash
A comfortable harness and leash for your dog. You’re adventure buddies, and you need your connecting lifeline.
Most parks that allow dogs require that they be on leashes. Very few are set up for your pup to be free-ranging.
Those leashes are for your protection, as well as that of your dog. They help prevent altercations between people as well as fights between dogs.
5. Take Pet Dinnerware with You
Water dish, food bowl, and food for your dog. (And equivalent items for yourself.) Plan to pack in water for your dog as well as for yourself.
Wild water can be almost as hard on your dog as it can be on you. Intestinal parasites aren’t discriminatory.
6. Put Your Dog Under Shade
Think about ambient temperatures. A smart dog will naturally seek shade during the heat of the day and will seek a warm place at night.
A savvy human partner will help his/her canine companion find ways to be comfortable, whether that’s taking a nice nap in the heat of the day, or cuddling up in warm blankets together at night.
7. Restrain the Dog at Night
Find a safe way to restrain your dog at night. This might be a travel pen or crate, or a tie-out stake. Either way, you need to be sure that your friend cannot roam about freely.
There are skunks, coyotes, and mean humans out in the world. You don’t want your pup to run into any of them.
8. Try Car Camping
Car camping with your dog can provide a natural night-time retreat. It can mean different things to different people.
For some, it means that you can drive all the way to the campsite, with no arduous backpacking of equipment to your campsite.
That can be a real blessing if you have a portable dog pen, a dog crate or portable house, or similar items for your dog, along with a tent or similar shelter. For other people, the car is the shelter.
That can be one way to help restrain your dog and provide both of you with a weather-tight place to sleep. This works reasonably well if you have a hatchback or van.
9. Clean Up After Your Dog
Walking around with bags of poop is not all that much fun, but you know what’s even less fun?
Stepping in doggie doo that some careless person did not pick up. Public parks are shared space, so scooping poop is only polite.
10. Use Pet-Friendly Insect Repellent
Puppy safe insect repellent is also a good idea. Dogs are bothered by mosquitos, ticks, fleas, and flies, and they can pose some health problems for your canine friend.
You will want something of the sort for yourself, as well. If you’re summer camping in an area that has showers, clean up for both of you and a parasite check is a good idea.
11. Take Your Dog with You Everywhere You Go
Wherever you go, your dog goes. Most parks take a dim view of dogs left on a tie-out by themselves. Besides, this adventure is for the two of you.
Leaving your dog behind at your campsite is likely to diminish the experience for at least one of you.
12. Take It Easy Exploring
Spend time exploring with your dog, letting him investigate smells, and find things that you like to do together.
Dogs can be great camping companions. All it takes is a little advance planning if you want to camp with a dog or even other pets for that matter.
If all of this sounds like a lot of work, you might be right. But hardly anything worth doing is easy.
The desired end result is for you and your dog to have a good time exploring the great outdoors, to get some healthy exercise, and to spend some bonding time together.
Learning how to camp with your dog or how to car camp with your dog can be a lot of fun for both of you.