What can be better than heading out in to the wild blue yonder for a camping trip with your dog? The beauty and peace of the natural world combined with the companionship of your canine buddy can make for a pretty wonderful getaway. But, there are several things you need to consider prior to heading out.
1. Where are you going to go?
Ensure that the area where you plan to camp welcomes dogs. While they are permitted at most public campsites in parks and wild areas, there may be restrictions in privately-operated campsites. Check it out before you do anything else so that you can make alternative plans if necessary.
2. Does your dog need his own camping backpack?
Much depends on the dog, of course. But if he is in good physical condition and able to carry at least some of his own gear it will lessen the load on you. Backpacks for dogs come in various sizes and designs, so it shouldn’t be difficult to find one that is a good fit for your pooch. Conversely, if you intend to do a lot of hiking and your dog is one of the tiny breeds, you may need a backpack to carry him around in. Many smaller dogs do just fine in camping and hiking situations but some are too fragile to be tramping over hill and dale.
3. Is it necessary to take water?
Water on a camping trip with your dog is essential – for your canine companion and yourself. But some dogs are particularly sensitive to changes in their water, which can cause tummy upsets – not what you want on a camping trip!
So, it’s a good idea to take at least some water from home and then gradually integrate the water from where you are staying with the ‘home’ stuff.
Try filling two or three 3-litre empty juice bottles with water from home.
You can freeze a couple of them and use them as ice blocks in your cooler and then as they thaw, use them for your dog. It’s inexpensive, contains melted ice and is environmentally friendly.
4. What do you need to pack for your pooch?
Just as you would for yourself, make a list of what you will need to take along for your dog to ensure that he stays happy, healthy and safe. Be sure to include any medications he may be on, and important documentation about current vaccination status and your ownership of the dog. It’s also a good idea to take some current photos of your pooch and keep them on your phone so that if he wanders off or gets lost you will have something to show people when you are searching for him.
Here are some of the essentials to remember:
- Food. Obviously, this has to be your first consideration. Measure out enough to last you for the entire trip, plus a couple of extra days just to be on the safe side.
- Bowls for food and water. You can take something from home, or purchase lightweight collapsible bowls that will take up less space in your dog’s camp kit.
- Dog treats. Your dog can’t (or shouldn’t) be consuming S’mores or whatever other camp delicacies you may be indulging in, so be sure to pack special treats for him as well.
- Poop bags. Regardless of where you may be camping – wilderness or organized campsite – you need to be diligent about picking up after your dog and disposing of the feces in a responsible manner. If you are wilderness camping it may cheer you to know that there is now a special pack you can purchase to carry filled bags, and it will mask the smell until you manage to dispose of them.
5. What will help keep your dog safe and comfortable?
- Ensure that your dog is wearing a collar with tags indicating his name and current contact information for you. There are LED and fluorescent collars available on the market now that can help you keep track of your canine buddy when it is dark. And, of course, pack a leash and/or harness.
- If you are wilderness camping attach a bear bell to your pooch’s collar
- Give consideration to containment of your dog at the campsite. You don’t want him haring off after wildlife while you are busy preparing meals or undertaking other chores. There are various containment options, including a crate, portable exercise pen or a simple spiral dog leash anchor for tie-out purposes.
- Be sure to include a first aid kit for your dog, along with flea and tick protection products.
- Pack a couple of old towels, so that if your dog gets wet either from weather or a dip in a lake or stream, you can dry him off.
- Consider purchasing and packing protective booties if you are planning on doing a lot of hiking in rough terrain.
And finally, after a long day of great outdoor adventure, give your pooch the pleasure of a comfortable bed. There are special sleeping bags for dogs, or you can take an old quilt or blanket from home. The elevated beds constructed of PVC pipe and a mesh resting area are also great for camping, as they get the dog off hard, cold or wet ground.
Carefully planned, camping with your dog can be a great experience. What better way to spend time with your canine buddy?
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