There is nothing better than camping; being outdoors with nature right in front of your nose. Fresh clean air, beautiful views and wonderful sounds of nature, what more could a dog want?
We can be a valuable asset while out camping. I can smell and hear things before you do, in fact when I was a pup, I steered my parents away from behind our cabin after a night pee. We found out the next morning, that two bears got into the grounds and rummaged through the garbage that night.
Remember we can keep you warm, help devour your scraps, and just be your happy mate.
But when you bring your dog along on a camping or backpacking trip you need to make extra plans specifically for your pooch.
Some things to think about before you go:
- Make sure your dog is vaccinated, and that you have proof of rabies. Get a health check and certificate from your veterinarian.
- Don’t forget an identification tag with the name of the park, campground, or “Contact park ranger” on it. Add your mobile number as well.
Tip: Some parks allow dogs on trails, some don’t. By the same token, some allow dogs into their campgrounds and public areas, some do not. Call ahead to your intended destination and find out what the rules are before you make plans to bring your dog.
- Just as you would not expect yourself to complete a long hiking trek without training, you must train your dog, as well. If your dog is only used to strolling streets and sniffing at the park, a long-distance trek could really stress your dog. So, start a training schedule as you would your own – slowly with a gradual increase in distance.
- Remember to pack your dog’s favorite food, along with dishes. Also, bring along some chew toys, play toys and snacks to keep your dog happy during the trip. Bring a thick foam pad or your dog’s bed if nights will be chilly. Another great idea is to pack a lightweight camping crate like the Deluxe Soft Crate if you’d prefer not to share your tent with your pooch. Also a towel just in case your dog gets muddy or rolls in something smelly.
- If you plan on camping this summer while it’s hot be sure to bring a portable tent air conditioner that will help keep you and your pet cool when things heat up. Globo Surf has a great article on finding the best air conditioner to fit your needs.
Tip: If your pooch is over 20 pounds (10 kg) he can carry his own things in a backpack as well as some of yours. Pack only unbreakable items in your dog’s pack.
Make sure to let your dog practise carrying his loaded pack around the neighborhood before you take him on the trail. Start with walks using an empty pack and gradually add items to get your dog used to the extra weight.
Pack up the right gear
- Remember a first aid kit for yourself and your dog. Additional items for dogs might include tweezers or pliers for removing thorns or porcupine quills, a sock in case a paw is injured, adhesive tape, and a disposable razor for shaving fur from around a wound.
- Bring your dog’s retractable leash – and an extra one in case one is lost or broken. Leashing your dog on the trail will keep him safe, and retractable models store away easily without tangling.
- Pack plenty of water. Dogs cannot cool off by perspiring like we do.
Whew… we are finally packed and ready to go! However, once we settle into our location keep in mind about your surroundings. I personally like to run loose through the woods and sniff everything in sight so keep an eye out for:
Learn to recognize potential dangers
- Your dog might find something he shouldn’t, like a skunk, or even worse a bear or a snake.
- In addition to wild animals that might hurt your dog, remember all the weird and wonderful flora and fauna that your dog might ingest in his quest for knowledge.
- A dog’s mouth and stomach are pretty tough and they can vomit up all sorts of things, but its good practice for you and your dog to get acquainted with the poisonous fungus and/or toads lurking in your neck of the woods and what the various treatments required. You might need antidotes; you might need to induce vomiting.
- Make sure your dog is secure at night. A lot of activity happens at night and your dog might be tempted to check out what is happening. This could be very dangerous. Not only are you protecting your dog when you keep him safe, but he is protecting you: nothing can come near your camp without your dog knowing.
Considering we all want to be good neighbours and good campers, it is always nice to obey the rules and make sure your dog does not cause havoc to other campers. Remember that other campers want to enjoy the peace and quiet of an out-of-the-way campground, so make sure your dog does not bark all night, steal from fellow campers or chew expensive hiking boots!
Tips when on the trails, beach or at the lakeside
- Keep your dog on the trail at all times, and in your eyesight at beaches and lakes.
- Make sure your dog is obedience trained in the basics and understands voice commands.
- Never let your dog do his “business” on the trail, in the sand or by the lake. Should an accident happen, be prepared to move the mess. The most responsible way to deal with your dog’s daily deposit is the same way you would deal with yours – bury it or pick it up with a dog bag and get rid of it!
What’s your favourite place to camp with your pooch?