10 Essential Tips For Camping With Your Dog

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Camping is a budget-friendly activity that lets you get back to nature. And you know who really loves nature? Your dog! Camping aficionado Vanessa Chiasson, the blogging brains behind Turnipseed Travel (a site that’s passionate about great value and getting the absolute most for your hard earned dollars and days off), gets down and dirty with 10 essential tips you’ll need to know before camping with your dog. 

camping-with-dogs-1Camping is a classic way to enjoy a fun, affordable vacation with friends and family. It doesn’t matter whether your style ranges from extended expeditions through challenging terrain or a simple weekend getaway of car camping in a nearby state park – chances are, there’s a campground for you! Even the more remote locations are offering great amenities these days.  From refurbished shower stations and picnic areas to camp stores, ice cream counters, and free wi-fi, camping is more accessible and welcoming than ever before. And if you think you’ll love camping, it’s nothing compare to how much your dog will!

Camping and dogs are a natural fit. So many nooks and crannies to explore, so many squirrels to put in line, so much delicious mud and dirt! Chances are, your dog will LOVE a camping trip and will be begging for more! Here are ten tips to make the experience a safe, smooth, successful one.

1.)    Talk to your vet. If you are spending time outdoors, they can recommend preventative tick medication, vaccines for Lyme disease, and even provide information on the safety of the lake water. Make sure your dog is in good health if any long hikes are planned.

Related: Rustic Tips To Remember When Camping With Dogs

2.)    Prepare your papers. Crossing a national border will require vaccine papers, as do some state parks (for proof of rabies protection). If your dog decides he hates camping and wants to check into a Pet Hotel, they will also require vaccination records. Medication should be accompanied by prescriptions and it’s always a good idea to research local veterinarian services, just in case.

3.)    Enjoy the ride. Make sure you stop on route so Fido can stretch his legs – he might be a bit cramped with all the camping gear packed in! Keep a bottle of water and a collapsible bowl with you at all times and offer frequent drinks.

4.)    Pick your site with care.  Depending on your dog’s temperament, it might be wise to choose a more secluded patch of land to pitch your tent. A campsite next to the washroom or water tap means increased foot traffic near your site, which not all dogs will appreciate.

Related: Hot Dogs And Campfire Safety

5.)    Call in the rangers! Park rangers are a wealth of information and they can help with everything from recommending the best site for privacy, which nature trails are pet friendly, and even what sections of the beach welcomes dogs.

6.)    Priority setup. Before you pitch the tent (or crack open the first beer!), take care of your dog. We first walk the perimeter of the site with our dog Chester so he has a chance to check everything out. We have a special 12 foot cable that we use in lieu of a leash. We set up his food and water dishes, taking care to bring his bowls from home. We also set up a sun shelter if our site lacks natural shade. Shy pets will greatly appreciate the creation of a “fort” or “den” where they can get away from it all. A large sheet draped over a picnic table does the trick.

7.)    Nap time. If setting up camp tires you out, imagine what it does to your dog! We try to have nap time every day. One of us will read in the tent while Chester naps – it’s a great time for both of us to refuel. Pets should never be left alone in a tent. Just like a car, the temperature inside a sealed up tent can soar and a panicked pet could hurt themselves trying to fight their way out.

8.)    Long live the leash! It’s so tempting to just let your dog run free but at a campground, but always obey the leash rules. If you’re not convinced to do so out of consideration of other campers or for your pet’s safety, maybe the thought of sharing a tent with a skunk sprayed pooch will do the trick!

9.)    Bugs and sun. We use a child friendly mosquito spray on Chester and also apply a gentle sunscreen to his nose area.

10.) Bath time! Congratulations! Your dog now smells worse than ever before! We always time our campground departure to coincide with a professional grooming once we get home.

We’ve camped with Chester on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean in northern Prince Edward Island, in the middle of the fall colors in Northern Vermont, and along the sand dune swept beaches of Lake Ontario. No matter what the season, the location, or the duration we always have a wonderful time and having Chester with us only enhances the fun. I hope you can employ these tips to make your next pet friendly camping trip one of your best vacations ever!

vanessa-chiassonVanessa Chiasson is TurnipseedTravel – an ocean loving Maritimer now settled as a freelance writer in Ottawa. Her diverse travels include Paris, where she ran a marathon, the coffee farms of Hawaii, and the national parks of Malawi. Next up? A round-the-world trip with 9 stops, including Turkey, Myanmar, and Australia.