If you love being out in nature, then bringing your faithful canine companion along with you on your outdoor adventures is likely one of your plans. Camping is the ultimate way to soak in every inch of the great outdoors, from simply relaxing under the stars, hiking with your dog, fishing, or cooking over a campfire. But, even if you’re a seasoned camper, bringing Fido along changes things considerably, so what’s the best way to prepare for camping with your pup?
The Ultimate To-Do List Before for Camping with Dogs
The best way to ensure you and your pup can have an enjoyable camping experience is to prepare. So, you need to make sure your dog's capable and healthy, you have everything you need, and you're aware of everything you need to know.
Is Your Dog Ready for Camping?
Anytime you're planning to take your dog somewhere, whether it's the park, a store, or out in the woods, basic training needs to be a priority. Really, training is a vital part of being a pet parent, no matter what. It keeps you and your dog happier, safer, and less stressed.
For example, imagine for a moment that you and your dog are walking in the woods, and your dog spots a snake. If your dog's properly prepared and trained, you can deliver firm "leave it" and "come" commands and potentially save your pup from a nasty snake bite.
If your camping excursion involves physical activities, like hiking or climbing, ensure your dog is healthy enough for the tasks. Simply staying on top of regular vet visits is a great start. And, if your dog has any health issues, discuss your exact plans with your vet to assess what your pal can handle. It’s also critical to ensure your dog is up-to-date on all of their vaccinations, and it’s wise to get your dog microchipped.
It’s also important to consider your dog's breed. Some pups don't do as well as others for extended periods outside, especially in certain weather. So, if you're tent camping for a weekend, ensure your pup can handle the weather and environment. Additionally, things like getting your dog groomed and clipped before a warm-weather adventure can help keep them cool.
Of course, you know your dog best, but if you're uncertain about how they'll react to the situation, start small. For example, start spending a little more time outside with your pup, whether it’s longer walks or extended outdoor play sessions. Then, you might practice doing an overnight adventure in your backyard first. This will allow you to see how your dog feels about the whole camping thing.
If it goes well, give a weekend a try somewhere near home. If it doesn't, try again in the backyard, or consider that your furry friend might not be a fan of camping. Or, you could always forgo the tent for a cabin — hey, sometimes a little glamping is just what the doctor ordered.
Know the Rules and Regulations
Once you've determined that your pooch is ready to go, you need to decide where you're going. Your first step is to ensure you choose a camping site, state park, or another area that allows dogs. Good starting points for finding dog-friendly places are sites like BringFido and Go Pet Friendly. Then, it's essential to familiarize yourself with all of the location’s rules, like leash restrictions, dog breeds, dog sizes, proof of vaccinations, etc.
Every place you go with your dog likely has pet policies, and it's your job to be aware of them and follow them. It's a simple matter of responsible pet parenting. For example, there are often rules about leash length (typically no longer than 6-feet), dogs that bark excessively, and of course, cleaning up after your pet.
Additionally, make sure you check ahead of time if there are any extra fees for bringing your dog along. Some camping spots charge a pet fee while others do not. You might have one place with a set charge for your entire stay, while others charge a daily pet rate.
Whatever you do, don't try and sneak your dog in where they aren't allowed. It's not the best idea, but it also will likely add a layer of stress to what's supposed to be a relaxing and pleasant time. After all, the whole time you're there, at least a part of you would be looking over your shoulder, hoping the park ranger won't throw you out.
What You Need to Bring When Camping with Your Dog
Of course, anytime you're planning any sort of trip, one of the biggest preps is ensuring you pack what you need. When your pup is part of the picture, create a separate packing list for them that includes the following items:
- Bring a harness and sturdy leash to ensure you can have the best control of your dog. Also, make sure your dog is wearing a collar with a current ID tag.
- A stake or something similar to keep your dog secure while you’re resting
- Dog waste bags
- Dog booties are a good idea to protect your pup’s paws from rough terrain, especially if you'll be hiking or going through rocky creeks.
- A rain jacket for your pup
- Extra towels
- Enough food and treats for the duration of your trip
- A durable food and water dish, like our camping bowl
- A dog first-aid kit
- Pack any medications your dog takes (it's advisable for your dog to be on regular prevention for ticks and fleas.) Not only will your dog be more comfortable, but it helps avoid severe conditions like Lyme Disease.
- Sunscreen and bug spray that are safe for dogs
- Your pup’s medical records and a photo of your dog
- A dog brush
- Outdoor-friendly toys
- Your pup’s bed or blanket
- Use a separate day-pack for your dog’s things, so you have the essentials handy when you’re out and about.
- A battery-operated fan or something similar can not only keep you cool at night, but it also adds a little noise to help cover up ambient sounds that might make your dog bark.
Extra Considerations If You Bring Your Dog Camping
When you take the time to prep before your camping trip, you significantly increase your odds that things will go smoothly. Still, when you’re doing anything involving the great outdoors, nature has the final say. So, always be aware that things like insect bites, allergies, heatstroke, and similar events can occur for both you and your pup.
You can take some precautions against these things, like using bug spray to ward off pesky insects and having plenty of fresh water on hand, so your dog doesn’t get overheated. Still, sometimes, things just happen. For example, your pup investigates a curious rustling bush, and the next thing you know, you’ve both been sprayed by a panicked skunk. Fun times, right? But, hey, it happens; so, you might want to brush up on how to remove skunk odor while you’re involved in your preparations.
Also, if you purchase anything new for your camping trip, like a harness or dog booties, make sure they fit before you head out on the road. Let your dog wear them a while before going camping, so if you need to change anything, you have time to do so.
Finally, when you’re camping, keep your pup with you at all times. If you do sleep in a tent, your dog should sleep in the tent with you. Ensure you zip it up at night, so your dog doesn’t get out. For more helpful tips about various activities, you can do with your dog and tips for traveling safely with your pets, check out our blog. Then, it’s time to hit the road with your pal. Happy camping!