Fall is perhaps the best season for camping – temperatures are mild, the summer crowds have left, and the holiday crowds have not yet arrived. If camping is about connecting with nature, you won’t find a better companion than your dog. Something about being in the wilderness with your canine makes the experience all the more special. Before you load your dog into the car and take off for parts unknown, you need to prepare. Camping with dogs isn’t difficult, but it does require forethought.
If you were camping dogless, you could just drive to your destination, set up camp, and relax. With a dog in tow, you first need to research where you plan to camp. Consider the following:
- Are dogs allowed?
- Do you need reservations?
- Do you need health info?
Finding dog-friendly campgrounds requires research. But thanks to the internet, you won’t have much trouble determining if the areas you are considering allow dogs. Almost all parks that allow public camping have websites that post rules regarding pets.
Once you find a suitable campground, prepare your dog for the outing. If you plan to hike, take your dog on day trips before you hit the wilderness. Before the big trip, pack a bag for your dog just as you would for yourself. Remember to bring the following items:
- Bring a leash.
- Tie-out, a long cord that attaches to your dog’s collar on one end and a stake in the ground at the other, giving your dog the freedom to move around while tethered
- Food bowl and food. Water bowl and water (if not available at the campground)
- Treats, toys, bags for waste pickup
- Flea-and trick prevention products
- A collar with identification, including your name, address, and phone number
- Elastic bandage, gauze pad, first-aid tape
At the site
Upon arriving at your destination, get your dog settled. If you’ve been on the road for a long time, take him for a walk to potty and stretch his legs.
In addition to relaxing and taking in the scenery, you may want to involve your dog in some activities while you camp. Like hiking, looking for wildlife or sitting by the fire.
Even though you’re away from home, try to stick to your dog’s regular routine. Feed him at the usual times, and give him the same food he eats at home. Avoid the temptation to give your dog “camping food”. Such as marshmallows, hot dogs, hamburgers, and other sugary or greasy treats.
When it’s time to sleep, provide your dog with accommodations that will remind him of home. Take your dog out to potty before you go to sleep for the night, just as you would at home.
Leave no trace
Respect your fellow campers, the environment, and the wildlife. Follow these basic rules:
- Mind all regulations regarding dogs, especially leash laws
- Do not allow your dog to chase wildlife
- Prevent excessive barking
- Pick up your dog’s waste, both in camp and on hiking trails
- Properly dispose of all trash when you break down your camp
Remember that your dog is an ambassador for all canines when you take him camping. The better he behaves and the more responsible you act, the more dogs will be welcome at campsites.