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Camping With Canines 101

Making sure you and your dog enjoy every minute of your camping trips together.

Preparation for a camping trip is key to its success; even more so when you’re planning to go camping with canines. Dogs are normally low maintenance and easy to please, but you should prepare well in advance if you want your canine to join you on your camping adventure.

Will Your Pup Enjoy Camping?

Consider these factors before bringing your dog:

  1. Is your dog easily stressed or excited?
  2. Does your dog dislike being tied up or on a leash?
  3. Is your dog difficult to restrain when excited?
  4. Does your dog have any medical issues?
  5. Does your dog wander when not attended?
  6. Is your dog highly vocal?
  7. Is your dog used to being indoors?
  8. Does your dog fit the physical requirements of your trip? (For example, don’t bring a Basset Hound on a long hike through rough terrain.)

If many of these apply to your dog, then it may be in his or her best interest to not tag along. If many of these apply, it doesn’t mean it’s a terrible thing to bring your canine along, just use your best judgment on the severity of the factors. Being outdoors is highly stimulating and there are many new smells and people your pup has never witnessed before, so it’s important to make sure bringing him or her along is best for the both of you! Just like any new situation for your dog, it needs to be socialized to the environment.

Camping With Dogs

Tips Before You Go

  1. If your dog is not used to being outdoors or has never been camping, take him or her on a few short hiking trips to get used to being out in the open and exposed to wildlife.
  2. Practice putting your dog in a travel kennel or tied up on a leash when you’re nearby. They need to learn that even when you’re around it’s okay to be restrained. (You’ll find this understanding really helps at home, too.)
  3. With your tent or camper set up in the yard at home, take the dog in and out just like you do in your home. Crawl in your sleeping bag and zip up the tent with both of you inside. If possible, bring the same sleeping space (pad, kennel,etc.) that the dog knows at home. It will really reduce stress.
  4. Make sure your dog has all necessary vaccinations and medications.
  5. Apply tick and flea medication!
  6. Make sure your destination is pet friendly.
  7. Check out our list of the best tents for camping with dogs.

What to Pack

  1. Strong fitted collar with ID tags & safety light.
  2. Sturdy 6-foot leash.
  3. 10-15 foot rope for tying the dog; or a cable and pulley system if you’ll be in a campground where it will work.
  4. Harness.
  5. Crate (travel kennel) if your dog is socialized to it.
  6. Food and water, plus dishes.
  7. Treats!
  8. Doggy waste bags and scooper
  9. Bedding, plus tarp to keep out moisture
  10. Brushes for grooming and tick key to remove pests
  11. Jacket or sweater for cold nights or dreary weather
  12. Portable shade, perhaps a kiddy pool if it will be really warm
  13. Medical papers/proof of vaccinations, and number of emergency vet in the area you’ll be visiting.
  14. Any regular meds your dog takes such as heartworm pills, flea/tick meds, etc.

Safety First

  1. Don’t let your dog drink from standing puddles or ponds. There could be parasites.
  2. Don’t let your dog swim in any unknown waters. Algae blooms are common and often not visible, but certain types of algae are quickly fatal to dogs.
  3. Watch closely for signs of heat exhaustion such as excessive panting and dizziness. Know what to do immediately to cool your dog.
  4. If your dog charges after wildlife or other dogs while restrained on a leash and collar, it can be injured. Consider a harness for those great hikes together.
  5. Keep a close eye on your dog, even if it is well behaved.
  6. Keep your dog warm at night and preferably inside the tent, trailer, RV, or cabin with you. You don’t want your pup messing with a skunk or other wild animal.

Camping With Dogs

Tips From Canine Camping Veterans

  1. Some dogs will stress during travel no matter how good a time they are having; the result is they won’t eat. Know your dog’s food weakness and have it along so you can entice them into eating if it happens.
  2. Try to keep travel just like home as much as possible. Take along familiar things that make the dog feel safe such as same travel kennel, same bedding, same diet, same food and water bowls.
  3. Consider having your dog “chipped,” especially if you travel a lot. This tiny radio frequency device (smaller than a grain of rice) is implanted under the dog’s skin between the shoulder blades. If you get separated, it’s a permanent ID that can be scanned by nearly any animal shelter or vet’s office so they can contact you. Check out the worldwide chipping program here.
  4. Always keep a set of your dog’s medical records with you, especially proof of vaccinations. In some states, when you’re on public lands like hiking trails, authorities can ask to inspect these documents at any time. If you don’t have them, you’ll be on your way to the vet to get the vaccinations whether needed or not.
  5. If you have a common breed of dog – say a black Labrador Retriever – consider the dog wearing a collar or bandana that will easily stand out if you need to describe the dog to someone who doesn’t know it. There may be a number of black dogs around a campground, but probably not more than one wearing a hot pick collar wrapped with stripes of fluorescent chartreuse tape!
  6. Always, always, always give your dog access to fresh, cool water. Staying well-hydrated is even more important for them than it is for you.

For Fun!

Beer NightBowser Beer

Brewery: 3 Busy Dogs

Style: Fire Hydrant Fuel

ABV: 0.0% (As the website says, “Somebody needs to be the designated walker!”)

Tasting Notes: No, we aren’t making it up. Bowser Beer is a beverage especially for your dog (though there are rumors cats like it, too!) Choose from Beefy Brown Ale™ or Cock-a-Doodle Brew™ or (coming soon) Pug Pork Porter™. Ingredients include fat-free, salt-free homemade beef and chicken stock plus all the goodness of malted barley, which is packed with vitamins B and glucosamine for healthy joints. Bowser Beer labels can be customized especially to you (or your dog’s) taste. Contains no alcohol, carbonation, or hops (which can be toxic to dogs). Though it comes in bottles, they are made from recyclable plastic so they are perfect for camping.

Click here to buy!

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