Tips and Reminders for Camping with your Dog

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If you’re like my family and love having your dogs with you wherever you go, we could be friends!   And, it doesn’t matter if we’re walking to the mailbox, making a quick drive to the corner grocery or taking an adventure trip across the country….our dogs love being with us.  One of the best adventures you and your dog can enjoy is camping.  If you’re both a dog lover and a camper, we could definitely be friends. 🙂  For today’s blog, I wanted to share a few thoughts and reminders about camping with your dog .  Hopefully, to help you be prepared to fully enjoy your dog and to have him or her enjoy their camping experience as well.

First of all…check out the regulations of the camping site you’re planning to visit well in advance.  Some do not allow dogs at all, while some do allow them but may have certain restrictions that you’re need to be aware of  and prepared for before you arrive.  At minimum, most require that you keep your dog on a leash and that you clean up after them.  These things, in my opinion, are just basic ‘respect others’ rules that we should follow anytime our dogs are with us in public places anyway.  After all…not everyone loves our dogs as much as we do and NO ONE wants to ‘step in it’ no matter how much they love dogs!  Yuck!

After confirming that your campsite allows dogs (YAY!!), be prepared with everything you’re going to need such as:

  1.  Pack PLENTY of food and water – If you’re going to be in an area where your dog doesn’t have a safe drinking source, it’s really important to be prepared.  They should never be allowed to drink from standing water or salt water.  TIP:  Collapsible Bowls are great to keep in your camper or with all your usual camping supplies so that you don’t get to the site and realize ‘I forgot the dog bowls again’ (this is experience talking, of course)
  2. Leashes etc. – Whether you’re at the camp site or hiking in the great outdoors, make sure you have the right collar, harness, leash and/or stake our paraphernalia to keep your dog safe, secure and as comfortable as possible.  Who wants their dog to feel like they’re being punished when they’re spending time with you.  TIP:  I love the ‘no pull’ harnesses for my dogs…there’s many sizes and styles to choose from.  Depending on the size of your dog, a pop-up play pen can be a great alternative to staking your dog out at your campsite.
  3. Bedding – Decide, in advance, if your dog will be sleeping with you or in a separate space.  If you’re tent camping, your dog may just need a sleeping bag of his own or just a sleeping pad.  If you’re in a camper, you may want to have a pet bed that can be easily folded and stored away.  TIP:  Whatever you choose, keeping your dog’s bed stored in the camper or with your ‘grab and go’ camping supplies will give you one less thing to remember when you’re ready for that ‘get away’ time.
  4. Paw Safety – We know we must have shoes appropriate for the weather or landscape we’re dealing with but we sometimes forget about our dogs and their bare feet.  I remember being reminded of this a few years ago when my sweet dog, Eli, stopped just short of walking onto hot pavement.  He sat down and looked at me with such a sad face, didn’t budge when I called or tugged slightly on his leash…very uncommon behavior for him.  Suddenly, it occurred to me, that it was the middle of July in the south, high 90 temps and the sun was beaming down! (DUH!!!!)  What an irresponsible owner I had been.  The previous day, Eli had walked quite a distance on that hot pavement and, even though I noticed him licking his paws and walking a bit gingerly that night, it NEVER dawned on me that his paws had been burned.  I felt TERRIBLE when he finally had to resist walking with me to wake me up!!  TIP:  Properly fitting paw booties are great if your dog will need to walk on very hot or cold weather surfaces;  also…for cold weather. you can buy ‘wax’ products for your dog’s paws that prevent snow from sticking to them.
  5. Toys, Chews and Treats – Your dog wants to relax and have fun with you…be sure to reward their good behavior with special treats and keep them occupied when you’re trying to rest, read or just relax at the campsite by making sure you’ve packed their favorite toys and chews.  TIP:  Keeping a separate stash of these items stored in your camper or in your camping backpack means never forgetting!
  6. Prepare to enjoy the rainy days – While most of us humans see rainy days as a deterrent to most of our outdoor plans, we really should try looking at it from our dog’s point of view.  Most really don’t care if it’s raining as long as they’re with you.  If it’s not a downpour and temps aren’t extreme, put on your rain gear and get outside anyway.  Since most people will be inside, you might even find a safe and acceptable place to let your dog play off-leash for a bit, which they always love.  TIP:  Quick drying towels are my favorite for the dogs (and humans too, for that matter).  They are sufficiently absorbent and they dry fast so they don’t have the sour, musty smell so you can easily reuse them.
  7. Grooming supplies – Brush, comb, dry and regular shampoo, etc.  As sure as you don’t have these supplies with you (even on a short trip), you’ll find yourself going out to buy them so keep an extra supply in your camper or with your own camping toiletries.  Many campsites have pet bathing stations but, even if you don’t have that luxury, being able to at least dry shampoo and brush your dog, will make you and your lovable friend feel better.
  8. First Aid supplies – Just as we humans, dogs can get splinters, burns, insect bites or worse when camping so be as prepared as possible to take care of your canine friend, wherever you are.  Educating yourself on first aid for dogs is always a good thing to do and, above all, check ahead for the Veterinarian or emergency pet hospital nearest to your camping destination.   TIP:  A regular first-aid kit with a few things added to make it pet friendly is all you need – a basic first aid guidebook, iodine for cleaning wounds, tongue depressors for splints, wax paw protection for dry pads, tick remover, a good flea and tick spray if your pet isn’t wearing a good protective collar or monthly treatment and liquid bandages for scrapes and cuts.  Also…don’t forget to add any regular meds or supplements that your dog takes.