Camping is a great way to connect with nature and enjoy the wilderness, especially in the heat of summer. It’s fun for the whole family, especially your dog, who gets to enjoy your company while spending all his time in a giant outdoor playpen.
Veteran campers often prepare by making a checklist of all the gear they’ll need for a successful, enjoyable trip. If you’re planning on taking your dog along, you’ll need to make sure he’s taken care of, too. Prepare like a pro by following these tips, and both you and your dog will be in camping heaven.
Get him adjusted to the environment
If your dog hasn’t been camping before, he may be a bit overwhelmed. There’s a whole lot of new sights, sounds and smells to experience, and he could get sore and tired from the rough ground and high activity level. You don’t want your dog to be stressed out and bother you or other campers by barking, so think of ways to keep him calm and comfortable, maybe by packing some treats or a favourite toy. Prepare your dog by taking him on hikes to forests, parks and trails a few times before his first camping trip, or do a dry run by camping out in your back yard. Whatever you do to adjust him in advance, your dog will end up being more comfortable once you head out on holiday.
Packing for your pooch
Bring plenty of food and water for your dog – it’s good to have a few extra days worth of food just in case. Light, collapsible dishes are best if you’re going to be on the move with daily hikes or boat trips. After he eats, promptly dispose of any leftovers and safely secure the main food bag to avoid attracting unwanted wildlife. Besides, toys and treats, you’ll also want to bring plenty of bags to deal with waste, comfortable bedding and blankets, a brush for his fur, and a safety light for walking at night.
Leash up around the campsite
Campgrounds are easy places for dogs to wander away from and find trouble, whether its disturbing another site or encountering dangerous plants and animals. Even if your dog is especially obedient, it’s smart to keep him leashed up around your campsite. Bring along a backup leash in case one breaks. For obvious reasons, always leash your dog well away from the fire pit, and make sure he won’t get tangled up in trees or tent poles and wires. If you want to give him room to roam, make a mini dog run by attaching his leash to a rope tied between two trees. If possible, bring your dog inside the tent when you bed down for the night and keep him away from skunks and bears.
Keep your dog comfortable
Ensure your dog has plenty of access to shade throughout the day to keep him from overheating. Also, if your campsite does not have running water, bring bottled water instead of letting your dog drink from lakes and rivers.
Fill up on first aid
You wouldn’t head out into the wilderness without basic first aid supplies for you and your fellow human travellers, so don’t neglect your dog when packing medical necessities. Have something to help take thorns out of paws, and maybe even a pain reliever. Depending on your breed of dog, and the conditions at your campsite, he might need sun protection. It’s also important to get your dog a collar or repellent for black flies, fleas and ticks. Examine his fur on a regular basis to make sure there are no disease-carrying ticks. Wear gloves to remove ticks, grasping them near the skin and pulling them off slowly and gently. Finally, check in with your vet before leaving town to make sure your dog’s vaccinations are all up to date.
Think water safety
If you’re planning on spending any time in a boat, kayak or canoe with your canine friend, make sure you carry a PFD for your dog. Even if he’s a strong swimmer, there’s no harm in having a little extra security when out on the water.
Identify your dog
No matter how far from home you go, make sure your dog is wearing a collar that can identify him, and you. Include your cell phone number, details of your campground’s location, and an emergency contact in case there’s no reception at your site.