Outdoor enthusiasts, rejoice: Camping season is upon us.
It’s time to pack your bags, grab your dog and hit the campgrounds.
Before pitching that tent, though, make sure you know the ins and outs of camping with your dog when it comes to safety, fun and preparedness.
Is Your Dog Ready to Camp?
We’ve all been around dogs who get too excited when exposed to a new environment. Yours might even be one of them.
Don’t worry, you’re not alone. It’s normal for dogs to check out all the new smells, sights and feels of somewhere they’ve never been before.
That being said, before your dog hits the trails and campgrounds, they need to have several key behavioral points down.
This command is vital. What if a campsite neighbor brings along their not-so-friendly off-leash dog? What if you’re hiking a trail and come upon a wild animal — one your dog would love to chase?
Hundreds of things can go wrong. You can never control the outdoors. You can, however, have well-behaved dogs who won’t put themselves in danger when the opportunity presents itself.
If your dog doesn’t understand “leave it” on a regular basis — at home or on walks — wait to camp until they’re ready.
Dead animals, snakes or even other camper’s food should never be up for grabs in your dog’s mind. It’s not just an annoyance — it’s a danger. Ensure they know how to respond when the time arises.
This one might seem like a no-brainer. Most of you probably include “come” in your dog training basics. Where many campers go wrong is thinking their dog will come to them when something super-duper exciting is happening elsewhere.
Maybe they’ve followed a scent down a trail and can’t pull themselves away from it, or perhaps another group of campers has lured your dog over with unhealthy human food. Whatever the reason, if your dog won’t “come” as soon as it’s told, brush up on their training first.
Always bring enough water for your dog if there won’t be a clean source where you’re camping. They need it just as much as you do, especially outdoors in the summer. Never let your dog drink from standing water. Their gut might be stronger than yours, but why risk it?
Ticks are always a concern when camping, for you and your dog. Of course, they’re much harder to find on a body filled with fur than they are on your own, so be diligent doing a tick check at least once per night, although monitoring throughout the day is never a bad idea. Also, know how to remove ticks before you go off camping with your canine pal.
Hiking and camping involves walking over unfamiliar grounds, trails and fields. Thorns are a serious concern for adventurous dogs, and they’re common in parks and forests. Your dog’s feet are sensitive if punctured. Be on the lookout for dangers on the ground, or help your dog get comfortable wearing booties.
Camping and swimming often go hand in hand. If you have a water-loving dog, they’re about to be in for a real treat. However, many dogs get so excited in the water, if given the opportunity, they’ll swim until they just can’t anymore — a dangerous thing when there’s nowhere for them to plant their feet in time. Split swim sessions up into 20-minute chunks, and play it safe by bringing a canine life jacket.
Packing List Essentials
- Enough food and water for your entire trip
- Food and water bowls
- Poop bags
- ID tags and medical/shot records
- A bed or blanket
- First aid supplies and any necessary medicine
- Doggie sunscreen
- Canine life jacket
Check out these tips on camping or hiking with your dog:
Popular Dog-Friendly Campgrounds in the U.S.
If you’re headed to the West Coast, spend some time with your dog in Big Sur. The varied scenery and amazing weather bring in thousands of like-minded campers every year.
On the other side of the country is Acadia National Park, an absolute gem if you love the outdoors. There are some restrictions for dogs. They’re clearly laid out on the park’s website, so check before visiting.
Smoky Mountains Park is another worthwhile trip. Dogs are allowed in campgrounds, but many of the trails are off-limits. Check the website ahead of time and stick to the right paths when your dog is hiking with you.