Pups With Tents: Rustic Tips To Remember When Camping With Dogs
Have you considered camping with your dog? I heartily endorse the activity! It’s the perfect opportunity to not only leave the fast-paced, high-tech world behind for a little while, but also to connect with your dog in a natural setting. And with a little bit of planning, sharing a tent with your pup can be an amazing experience.
Here are a few of my tips for camping with your dog:
Is the Site Dog Friendly: Before you put down a deposit on your site, find out if they are dog friendly, and if so, to what degree. Be forewarned that in the United States, most National Parks do not allow dogs on the trails. Dogs are often allowed in the parking lots, but that doesn’t sound like much fun to me! The good news is that most often State Parks allow dogs and they tend to be less crowded anyways. In the Canadian province of Quebec, nearly all of their parks do not allow dogs. Not on the trails, not on the roads, not in the sites. Some don’t even allow dogs in your canoe! But don’t worry, there are plenty of other Canadian provinces where you’re allowed to camp with your dog – the majority of provincial, state and private parks allow dogs. But always call first to avoid disappointment. If you are like me and travel with a pack, check if there is a limit to how many dogs are allowed on each site.
Don’t Wait, Vaccinate: Before you head out with your dog, make sure that he’s up to date on all his shots, no matter how small the chance that he will need it. Many years ago, I was camping with my dog, Old School. One fateful early morning, she was attacked by a racoon that had come into our site, acting aggressively. It went right for Old School, who was a gentle dog. I’ll spare you the gory, frothy details, but the racoon ended up taking a hefty bite out of Old School. I was glad I had her vaccinated against rabies, so other than suffering a bad bite, she was able to accompany me on many camping trips again.
Harness Up, Partner: When we camp, all of the dogs are wearing properly fitted harnesses with matching collars to hold their ID tags. The harnesses are simply for comfort, as the dogs will be spending most of their time on leash. The collars are for holding their regular dog tags in case they decide to go exploring. And the fact that they match – what can I say, we’re a pack that likes to look good, no matter where we are! Attached to the harness is a double ended leash for each dog. There are a few brands of them out there, but I like a six-foot leash, outfitted with a solid clip on each end. This allows me to attach one end to the dog and the other to anything I need to secure them to! Sometimes I attach them to my belt, other time it’s a quick clip to the nearest tree, or when in the site, I set up a “clothesline” of sorts to attach all the dog lines to.
Pre-Camping Groom: Before you head off, give your dog a good brushing. All the dead hair you remove beforehand with a brush means you’ll be finding less hair in your tent and sleeping bag. On top of that, when your dog’s hair is all brushed out, it’s that much easier to keep clean of twigs, grass and dirt. You can skip the shampoo because don’t want your dog smelling fruity or fancy out in the woods – these scents often attract pesky insects that can ruin your fun. And don’t forget his nails – they need a trim, too. Sharp nails and air mattresses do not mix!
Plan for the Unexpected: Always let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back. Pack a first aid kit and make sure it’s stocked. When we camp with a young dog, I always pack some Benadryl, just in case the dog’s curiosity gets him into something. As well, pack a few extra meals for your pooch – they’ll come in handy if you’re delayed by weather or you decide to stay a little longer.
Be a Good Guest: Remember whose home this is. The woods are home to all sorts of wild creatures. Some will see your dog as food, and some your dog sees as food. Regardless, keep your dog on a leash at all times and close by. Obedience training will ensure that your dog is going to listen to you, even when he’s excited that there’s a moose on the trail, or a bear walking down the road. Watch out for the smaller critters as well. Squirrels, skunks and racoons will be attracted by your dog’s food bowl, so once feeding time is over, wash the bowl and put it away.
As I’ve found, life in the great outdoors is even greater when you include your canine on your adventures. If you have any camping tips to share, please post them in the comment section below!
Kevin Roberts lives for adventure. Together with his pack of rescue dogs and his husband, he spends as much time outdoors as possible. Kevin lives by the motto: "Get outside and play with your dogs!
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