Camping with your dog can be a great experience for both of you. As long as you’re prepared and know what to expect, it should go smoothly. If that’s not the case, then you might be in for a few surprises.
Sure, there were the occasional articles in magazines that reminded us to use pet ID tags, bring plenty of water, and take our favorite toy. But in terms of providing genuine support or bottom-line information, there was nothing out there. Since it was something that we felt was badly needed, we decided to write this article.
Tips for Camping with Your Dog
While there are numerous issues to consider while camping with dogs, these are some of the most important.
1. Make Sure that Your Dog Cant Get Lost
It’s one thing if your dog gets free in your neighborhood. It’s another when you’re at a rest stop, nine hundred miles from home. Either train your dog to come when called or make absolutely sure that they’re on a leash at all times.
If your dog does get lost (unfortunately, it happens all the time), the ability to easily identify them will become critical. For permanent identification purposes, consider tattoos or microchips.
At a minimum, make sure they wear tags that show their name, your current phone number, and the date of their last rabies vaccination.
2. Get All of their Vaccinations Up to Date
If your dog gets into an altercation with another animal (or a person), the central issue will become their rabies shots. If you stay at a campground that has a demanding pet policy, you’ll need to verify your dog’s vaccination records.
If you cross into Canada, you’ll have to confirm that your dogs have had their shots. You get the idea.
Most state parks have a fairly strict dog policy too so this could be HUGE if you fail to do it.
3. Prepare for Fleas and Ticks
Yes, there is preventative medicine: flea prevention you can put on your dog, and even Lyme Disease vaccinations. Do NOT spray your dog with something like Deep Woods Off!
DO check your pet over after each hike to see if there are ticks to remove. Just because they can’t get Lyme’s disease after the vaccination doesn’t mean it is pleasant to be snacked on. We like to keep an adhesive lint roller handy to help pull little critters off.
4. Take Potty Breaks
Take potty breaks as soon as they happen in order to avoid accidents on the ground or tent flooring. Camping with your dog is certainly more fun with a clean tent.
5. Clean Up After Your Dog
The biggest complaint about dogs has nothing to do with their bark, their bite, or their behavior. If you pick up after your dog, you’ll be helping dog owners everywhere.
6. Learn How to Provide First Aid to Your Dog
If a medical crisis occurs while at home, you drive to your local veterinarian. But if you’re heading down a dark highway in a strange town, it will seem like a bad dream.
Although there are ways to get help while on the road, it always takes more time. In the meantime, your ability to provide competent first aid could save your dog’s life.
We like this pretty detailed article here on dog First Aid and CPR: First Aid Tips For Dogs Every Pet Owner Should Know
6. Prepare a Safe and Comfortable Place Where Your Dog Can Sleep.
Provide a warm, cozy bed with plenty of soft blankets or towels. Consider bringing along your dog’s favorite toy to provide extra comfort and security.
7. Involve Your Dog in Everything You Do
If you really want your dogs to have a good time, include them in your activities. Take them with you on long walks. Buy a cheap plastic wading pool and let them play in the water. Throw a ball. Cook them up a hamburger. If you do stuff like that, they’ll do cartwheels the next time you decide to take them camping.
It is a great way to bond with your dog as you both commune with nature. When you go camping, try everything from kayaking to hiking with them. I will let you know how the kayaking with Taz goes this summer.
8. Bring Extra Water For Your Dog
Some dogs drink more than usual in warm weather because the body works harder to cool off. Pack at least one gallon per day for each dog in the party. Don’t forget to refill your pup’s dish after he drinks from it.
9. Packing the Right Food is a Good Idea
Give them plenty to eat, but avoid foods that will cause digestive upset or excessive drooling (since this can attract bugs). Bring plenty of food to last the whole weekend (or longer, if you’ll be camping for a long period of time).
Typically dogs will do fine with dry granola bars and some of their favorite treats for breakfast, lunch, and dinner while on camping trips but they should be fed at least twice a day to avoid overeating and the potential for digestive upset.
10. Prevent Pooch Boredom
Pack their favorite toy. They’ll likely be bored without it. – Spend time playing and exercising with them.
Leave the TV on in your camping spot, or bring an old radio to keep them company while you do errands and set up camp.
If they’re allowed off-leash at home, let them roam around as long as there are no hazards like barbed wire fencing
11. Dogs Need Rest Time
Dogs need rest too and it’s not much fun if they don’t get any. Camping is usually a lot longer than just an overnight camping trip so be mindful of their needs to take breaks when you can, even if that means taking turns with your camping partner.
Dogs need the same level of rest that humans do, so take care to not let your dog over-exert themselves when camping. This makes camping with your dog more fun for everyone involved.
12. Pack a Camping Crate
Bring a camping crate to keep your dog safe while you’re not supervising, and for when they need their rest in between walks or runs.
Camping crates are available at pet stores. They can make it easier to set up camp since the dog will be confined to one area of the campground.
This might be problematic if you did NOT crate train your pup.
13. Make Fido Play Nice
Dogs can be quite protective of their owners and will become aggressive if strangers get too close; this is why camping with dogs can be a lot of work.
14. Don’t be Bugged
Bugs are going to be a camping companion no matter how you slice it, so don’t worry too much about them.
Camping can mean bugs in any number of places: mosquitos while sitting around the campfire or spiders crawling up your tent walls during the night.
Make sure your pooch has taken their Heartworm meds and you are ready to deal with ticks, should you see any.
15. Call the Campgrounds Before You Go
Even if a park claims they’re pet-friendly, always call ahead to confirm their policy regarding your dogs. We’ve arrived at parks (with our two Aussie) after a long day on the road only to discover that pet-friendly meant dogs weighing under 20 pounds.
16. Plan Ahead for the Unexpected
Have a plan (for your dogs) in case of a flat tire, a serious accident, or a fire in your RV. Start with a few extra leashes, a pet carrier, and an extra fire extinguisher. Then have a fire drill to identify potential problems.
17. Learn About Your Camping Environment
The U.S. is a huge country with a vast assortment of dangerous wildlife, treacherous plants, unpredictable weather conditions, and demanding environmental challenges. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you might inadvertently be putting yourself and your dog in danger.
18. Recognize and Respect the Views of Others
While some of us can’t imagine traveling without dogs, others can’t image traveling with them. If you keep your dog under control and clean up after them, you won’t give others much to grumble about.
Use common sense. If you are camping in a heavily wooded area with coyotes or other wild animals, it may be best to leave Fido at home for the weekend.
Happy Camping with Rover!