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Camping With Your Dog Is Easier Than You Think. Here's How to Do It.

Pets Camping
by Janine Avery Oct 16, 2019

A camping trip offers the opportunity to get back to nature, appreciate the small wonders, and unplug from the hustle and bustle of daily life. But for dog owners, planning the perfect camping trip can become a nightmare. You have to find someone to look after your best friend, or you need to take your fluffy companion to a pet hotel or kennel. This can often cost more than your camping adventure itself!

But what if you could take your dog camping with you? Well, the good news is that, at some campsites, you can. But there are a few things you need to keep in mind if you want to ensure your camping trip is a good one — not only for yourself but also for your traveling pooch and the other people around you.

How to ensure your dog stays in your campsite

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One of the trickiest parts of camping with a dog is trying to keep your pet at your campsite. With all those new smells and sights around, your dog may have a tendency to run off in search of that cute bunny rabbit or see what’s cooking at your neighbor’s site. While leashing your dog to something at your campsite might seem like the obvious option, restraining your pet in this manner is not really why you brought them along.

Instead, try putting up a small mesh portable fence around your campsite or, if you don’t like the idea of blocking the view, set up a cable run around your site and leash your dog to this. That way they can run the entire perimeter of the property and go where they like in your site but will never venture far away.

When booking your site, also see if you can book a site on a corner. That way you can face all your chairs out towards the two open sides of your site and won’t need to develop eyes in the back of your head to keep an eye on the pooch. When you first arrive at your campsite, make sure you take your dog on an orientation tour so that they can get the lay of the land and understand their temporary home. Then set up your dog’s favorite things at your campsite, such as their bed, blanket, and favorite toy so that they know exactly where home is in this foreign place. This will help your dog navigate back to you in the event that they do wander off.

How to keep your dog warm or cool in the tent

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While taking your dog out on a summer camping trip might seem like a good idea, tents can heat up really quickly during the day and can even become a death trap for your dog — while the reverse is true in winter. Ensure that the site you choose has sufficient shelter from the elements and try and pre-book the best spot if the campsite allows. To increase your shelter, set up a tarp or shade cloth across your site and position your tent appropriately so that it will be in the shade in the heat of the day.

Also, be sure to pack a fan or portable heater that you can use in your tent — you can get great solar-powered versions if the site has no electricity. Wet towels and a small wading bucket are also useful items to pack for that summer camping trip. Make sure to have enough water dishes available at all times and that your dog knows exactly where to find these at your campsite.

What dangers to look out for when camping

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While looking after your pet inside your tent and on your site is one thing, chances are you’re also going to be taking them out and about too, which brings with it a whole new host of dangers. The last thing you want is to lose your dog in a strange place, so be sure to microchip your pet and ensure their collar lists your contact details. Also, test out a whistle at home and see if they will respond to it on walks as a way to retrieve your pet.

While on walks, or even in the relative safety of your campsite, be sure to look out for other dangers your pet might not be accustomed to at home, such as snakes or scorpions, and pack a pet first-aid kit just in case. If you’re sleeping in a place with nocturnal animals, ensure your dog spends the night inside your tent and not outside alone — for their sake as well as the safety of these critters.

It is also important to look after your pet’s paws in rocky or thorny areas. Certain pet stores even sell special pet shoes if you know you’re going to be walking in the heat of the day in difficult terrain. And if you’re camping near water and your dog loves to swim, be sure to find out if it’s safe for your pet to do so and if there are any hidden dangers you need to be aware of, such as rapids further downstream, currents, or submerged rocks.

How not to annoy every other camper

Photo: Nina Lishchuk/Shutterstock

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, when traveling with your dog, it’s important to bear in mind that most people go camping to enjoy some peace and quiet. A dog constantly barking or pestering them may be enough to get you banned from ever coming back.

To avoid annoying every other camper on site, try not to ever leave your dog alone at camp. Also, don’t be afraid to go out and introduce your dog to the other campers and dogs at the site when you arrive. If people know you and your dog, they are more likely to be tolerant should something go awry. That said, be sure to respect other campers’ space and try and place yourself and your dog away from other people as much as possible — even if that just means keeping your dog’s bed and space nestled in a quiet area of your own site.

And the number one rule: Be diligent about cleaning up after your dog as quickly as possible!

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