Any dog-owning outdoorsman has experienced it. As you pull out of your driveway with your vehicle packed with camping gear, one look back can be enough to bring your trip to a screeching halt. While you are excited for your adventure to begin, your furry friend whimpers with sadness from the door, knowing that they’ll be alone for a time.
Man’s best friend doesn’t have to be a homebody anymore. Going on camping trips with your canine companion can be a fun and fantastic way to escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Unlike taking a stroll through the park, however, camping with your dog requires a little more preparation. Making sure your furry friend is fit for the trip and geared from head to tail can be a breeze with these tips, tricks and guidelines.
SNIFF OUT POTENTIAL PROBLEMS
Prior to packing up the car and heading to the site, you should make sure that your pup is fit for the venture. Consult with your vet and ensure that your dog is up to date on all vaccinations, as well as flea, tick and heartworm protection. A clean bill of health is just as important to your dog as it is to you. Make copies of any medical records and check that your canine’s license and microchip records are current and up to date as well.
You should also take some time pre-adventure to research your intended trails and campgrounds. Check to make sure that the area you’re visiting is indeed pet-friendly, and if there are any regulations you should pay attention to while packing and planning. It can also be beneficial to research any nearby veterinarians and keep their information on hand in case of an emergency.
PET PERSONALITY & OBEDIENCE
Before you start planning outdoor activities for you and your dog, you should take into consideration your dog’s ability to listen as well as their motivation level. If your dog isn’t the most energetic travel partner, consider limiting physical activities such as rigorous hiking or trail running. You don’t want to overwork them, especially while you’re out in the wilderness.
If your dog is more independent and active, be sure that their training and command responses are crisp and clean. Keeping your pup in control can really ease stress around the campsite and help maintain camping etiquette by limiting unwanted interactions with nearby campers or wildlife such as birds, snakes or other critters. Brush up on a few commands like, “Sit,” “Stay,” “Come Here,” and more prior to your getaway.
PACKING FOR YOUR POOCH
Once your dog’s paperwork is in order, you’re certain of their ability and you’ve conducted your trip research, it’s time to gear up. Basic needs, such as food, water, treats, toys and waste bags should be no-brainers. Look for biodegradable waste bags and always remember to pack extra so that you can keep the environment and campsite clean. Remember to pack food and water bowls, as well. There are plenty of collapsible and travel-ready options available to help keep your pup fed and quenched during your stay.
A reflective collar and proper ID tags can help you keep track of your canine at the campsite — and help others identify your dog if they happen to wander off. You can also toss in a dog light that clips to the collar for more visibility during nighttime activities. A sturdy leash, harness and cooling bandana are also must-haves for your four-legged adventurer.
To go along with your doggie ensemble, deck your pooch out with a bear bell and doggie socks. Bear bells can be great at alerting wildlife and other campers of your dog when on the trail, while doggie socks can help protect your pup’s paws from irritation or rough terrain.
Along with medical records and medications, pack a pair of tweezers and tick puller for any run-ins with insects or debris. Be sure to check your dog’s paws, ears and coat for any picked up ticks, insects, thorns or burrs once you return to camp and remove them with the proper tools. A travel-size bottle of mineral water can also come in handy to treat any abrasions or bites. Canine sun block, insect repellent and an anti-itch treatment can also make for a well-rounded pet first-aid kit.
Finally, to add to your campsite gear, throw in a tie-out stake and lead so that your dog can be safely tethered when you’re setting up your site. Remember to pack a sleeping blanket or bed for your dog, as well as a portable or travel-size crate. Some models even fold up for easier storage. Lastly, a spray bottle and camp towel should be added to your gear to ensure that you can efficiently clean off any mud or gunk your dog might (read: will) pick up while camping. A small doggie brush can also benefit your four-legged camper, keeping them groomed and free of any matted hair or debris.
To help with packing and to make sure you remember the gear needed, check out the handy checklist at the bottom of the article.
GOOD DOG: PROPER CAMPSITE ETIQUETTE
With all of your gear in the vehicle and your pooch ready for a fun-filled trip, the last thing you want is to end your travels early because you couldn’t follow the rules. Many pet-friendly campgrounds have a set of regulations to ensure maximum enjoyment for all patrons. Always be mindful of other campers and respect your surroundings by keeping your pet in control. Obey leashing rules when at your site or on your hike. Practice proper waste removal by bagging all of your dog’s droppings and disposing them in a proper receptacle, or abide by your site’s “Leave No Trace” agenda.
Be in control of your pooch at all times and be mindful of where they are during your stay. Remember your dog’s training and always manage them with the right direction. Also, do your best to limit barking with treats and entertainment to avoid annoying the surrounding campers.
While it might seem like a lot to remember, the simple way to practice proper camp etiquette is to always remain courteous and to treat the campgrounds like you would your home.
Camping is not only a vacation for you, but for your best buddy as well. Use these tips and tricks to make sure your next adventure is a paws-itively perfect experience.
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