July 27, 2019

Your First Camping Trip With Your Dog: What to Know

Taking your dog camping? Fun! If it’s your first camping trip together, you’re in for a real treat. You’re probably also not going to get much sleep but hey, there’s a learning curve. Here’s how to get ready for your first-ever camping trip with your dog so that you both survive the night.

#1: Evaluate Your Dog

Is your dog the “camping” type? Not all dogs are! Don’t assume that just because you like camping your dog will. Domesticated animals are pretty into the living-indoors-and-knowing-where-the-food-bowl-is thing. They don’t always take kindly to being out in the wilderness. If your dog is in poor health, can’t sustain physical exertion, or is highly anxious by nature, camping might not be the best activity to try together.

#2: Choose Your Campsite

The most important decision you’ll make once you decide to take your dog camping is figuring out where to pitch your tent. For your first camping trip, car camping is the way to go. That way, you can pack all necessary supplies in your vehicle to have on-hand in case your dog needs something (or freaks out at 2:00 a.m. and you need to pack up and drive home.) Just remember that dogs aren’t welcome at all campsites. Check the website of your camping destination beforehand to see if they have any special rules for pets. Unless you regularly take your dog on hikes, it’s not recommended that you spring a pop up tent and a freeze dried meal on your pooch after several miles traipsing through the woods.

#3: Brush Up on Training

When you know camping is in your future, it’s a good idea to brush up on your dog’s training. Be sure she listens when you tell her to “come” and that she understands “leave it!” in case she encounters a snake or an uncooked hot dog on the ground. You also want to be sure she’s comfortable around other dogs since there might be canines at your dog-friendly campground.

#4: Pack Prepared

You don’t need to bring everything and the kitchen sink to make it through a night camping with your dog. You’ll want to bring collapsible water and food bowls and plenty of fresh water and dry dog food; aim for few leftovers as they can attract wildlife. Also bring a strong, reflective leash (with tags!) for your dog to wear at all times unless she’s in the tent. As for sleeping, you might want your dog to snuggle in your sleeping bag with you. If not, pack a light sleeping bag and a blanket for her in case it’s cold at night. And be sure to bring along a first aid kit (just in case!) and to write down the number of a 24-hour vet’s office nearby in case you don’t have service.

#5: Remember Your Etiquette

There’s a right way and a wrong way to camp with your dog. Whether or not you’re at a campground with other campers, always pick up your dog’s poop! Your dog should be on her leash unless she’s in the tent and you shouldn’t let her roam freely into other campsites. Remember that dog who won’t stop barking, while likely annoying to other campers, might actually attract dangerous wildlife, too. Above all else, remember that camping is supposed to be an experience, not an endurance. You should expect your dog to be a little confused and maybe a little less well-behaved than normal. It will take her a few times to really get the hang of camping...and probably a toasted marshmallow or two.

Taking your dog camping?

Make sure he's up to date on his flea and tick prevention.

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