If you’re dreading the thought of boarding your dog while taking your family camping, consider bringing Fido along with you. Not only is camping with dogs fun, but you also don’t have to worry about how he will be taken care of in your absence. Because camping with your dog requires some planning, we have put together this list of tips to help you get started.
Find a Dog-Friendly Campsite
Many campsites are canine-friendly, but you should do a little research before reserving your site. What a bummer to show up at your campsite only to realize your dog cannot stay! You will also want to make yourself aware of your chosen campsite’s rules regarding your furry friend(s). For example, you should plan to keep your dog with you at all times, since most campgrounds do not allow for dogs to be left unattended at the campsite.
If you want a little bit more flexibility, when it comes to your dog, you can look into dispersed camping. There are still rules when it comes to dogs but you often have fewer or no camping neighbors and so a little bit more flexibility. Read this post to learn more about the pros and cons of dispersed camping vs campground camping.
Etiquette for Camping with Dogs
Unless you’re camping in the dead of winter, during another highly undesirable time of the year, or camping in a very remote location, you can expect to have others camping nearby. They might have even decided to bring their dog along. Everyone wants to have a good time, and it is imperative that you do not allow your dog to ruin it for anyone else.
This is easy to ensure with a few tips in common courtesy and campsite etiquette. These tips include the following.
Keep Your Dog on a Leash
Let’s face it, there are actually people out there who do not like dogs. I know, I’m stunned, too. Keeping your dog on its leash ensures he won’t be jumping, rubbing or licking on these people. It also means he won’t get lost. This LED collar is handy for knowing exactly where your dog is at night.
Additionally, if you want to give your dog a little more freedom while still keeping them on a leash, try using an extra-long dog leash. The retractable dog leashes are also a good option to be able to give your dog a little more lead.
Never Leave Your Dog Unattended at the Campsite
Even if you have your dog leashed at your campsite, leaving her alone is never a good idea. Your dog may be a seasoned camper, but she is still not in her comfort zone. There are a million things that could happen to her while she’s all alone, so just don’t do it.
If you will be leaving your campsite, it’s best to take your dog with you. If that’s not possible, you should consider bringing a dog kennel with you for your dog to stay in while you are gone. This dog kennel is a great option because it comes in a variety of sizes and can collapse down for easy packing.
ALWAYS Clean Up After Your Dog
Most of us know to clean up after our dogs, especially after a nasty No. 2 on a public sidewalk. For those who don’t, ALWAYS clean up after your dog. Campsites become very dark once the sun goes down, and all the stars in the galaxy cannot illuminate your dog’s mess. A wayward bathroom-seeker could easily step into an unexpected and extremely disgusting pile in the middle of the night. A doggy bag dispenser like this one connects to your leash, so it is easily accessible.
Keep Your Dog from Getting into Other Campsites
Do not allow your dog to rummage through others’ campsites or communal trash bins. This would seem like an obvious tip because it is just plain rude. However, there are other reasons to keep your dog out of other campers’ sites and trash. Leftover food particles, which is typically what your dog would be after in other campsites, can attract local wildlife.
While it is true that you won’t encounter bears, fox, bobcats or even snakes in certain areas, I personally wouldn’t want to leave out open invitations anywhere. Leftover food particles can also attract insects to bother you and your dog.
Dog Appropriate Activities
Check to see if your dog is allowed to participate in activities near your campsite. For example, dogs are usually not allowed off marked trails in parks, or in the backcountry. The reasons for this are pretty straightforward. Your dog can hurt or be hurt by the local wildlife.
Some trails are multipurpose trails meaning that you will encounter other hikers, bikers or even horseback riders. If dogs are unleashed, they can frighten others on the trails which can then lead to accidents. Dogs may also be banned from certain beaches or swimming holes. It is important to make sure you know what activities your dog can participate in before you arrive.
Things to Pack for your Dog
Food and Water
Obviously, you will need to bring extra water and food for your dog. We use quart-size storage bags to divvy up our dog’s food for the duration of the trip. One bag=one serving of food. This way, we don’t have to deal with bringing a large container of dog food with a scoop. You can find convenient collapsible food and water bowls like these to help make meal and drink time easier. They also take up way less space than your traditional dog food bowls.
Just as you would for yourself, you want to remember to pack any regular medications your dog takes including as-needed prescriptions. It’s also a good idea to bring a first aid kit for your dog. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that your dog can easily get hurt and might need treatment, too.
Also, a simple bottle of peroxide can go a long way when camping with your dog. It can be used to induce vomiting should your dog eat something she shouldn’t, and it can also be used for cleaning wounds.
No one wants to sleep on the cold, hard ground including your dog. Bring his favorite sleeping pad or blanket to help him feel more at home. We also highly recommend letting your dog sleep with you inside your tent. With prowling wildlife or even possible dog snatchers, it is simply safer for your dog to be inside with you. Remember, your dog will take up some extra space so make use you find a large tent that will work you, your family, and your dog.
We definitely do not like the idea of our dog being severely injured or injuring someone else, and the probability of it is super low. However, should the event occur, you will need to have his up-to-date vaccination records on hand. Quarantine laws for dogs without proper documentation vary by state. This means that if your undocumented dog injures someone, you might have to head home without him.
Bring along some games to play with your dog. A Frisbee or tennis ball can lead to hours of fun for the kids and the dog. Even a large bone will keep your dog happily occupied during campfire downtimes.
Camping with Dogs
In the end, camping with your dog can be so much fun for the entire family. With just a little planning, preparedness, and our tips, you can easily enjoy the company of your dog on all your family camping trips.