For a lot of us dog lovers, taking poochie camping with us is as natural as taking our children. Doggy is a part of the family and we would never think of leaving him or her behind, or boarding them in a kennel while we go off to enjoy ourselves. Our loving family pet deserves to go on a little vacation, and enjoy “family time” as well as we do.
Camping with your pet can be an enjoyable time so long as you are prepared for anything that comes along. First and most important, your family pet should be up to date on their shots and vet check ups. Don’t take them camping if they aren’t feeling well either. Sometimes dogs feel a little “under the weather” just like we do, and just want to lounge around at home.
If your dog is good and healthy and raring to go, that’s great. Now you’ll have to make sure to accommodate his every need, just like you do at home. Be sure to pack plenty of his favorite food and treats in zip lock bags to keep them fresh and dry. Also pack his food dishes and a couple favorite toys. Doggy will feel more at ease having his own things along.
Other doggy necessities you will need are: brush and comb, disposable doggy wipes, old towels (just in case of rain!) I also suggest ear and eye wash solutions, because you just never know what these guys can get into. It’s also a good idea to have your vet’s phone number packed in the “doggy bag,” in case of an emergency.
Most all campgrounds require that pets be kept on a leash at all times. If your little family member is not leash trained, work on this well in advance of the camping trip. Puppy will be terrorized if you force the leash on them in totally unfamiliar territory. Let the dog wear the leash and drag it around at home to become familiar with it.
If it’s the dog’s first time camping, he will be nervous and afraid of the new surroundings. Keep him close to you and let him get used to the tent or camper slowly. Take him in and out, with his leash attached, even if you have to carry him. Let him investigate slowly. If the pet is a boy, he’ll probably wear himself out “hiking” on every tree or bush nearby. Let him hike away, as this will mark his territory and make him more comfortable.
Always pick the dog up and soothe him, if he is really upset. Unless, of course, you have a rather large dog, then a good petting will have to do. Speak to the pet in soothing tones. Smaller breeds have a tendency to be very nervous in strange situations, so have patience.
Once the dog gets used to the surroundings, he’ll probably want to explore. Let him lead the way, unless he is getting into harms way.
Once your dog has settled down and gotten used to the surroundings, you should be able to relax in a chair while he sits at your side, or on your lap. Campgrounds have many people walking about, some with dogs of their own. Your dog will have to learn not to bark or lunge at these other camping doggies. If he is an insistent barker, take him into the camper for a time out. He will soon understand that he must be considerate to other campers.
One very important tip is to not “abandon” your dog at your campsite. Many campers leave their dogs tied to a tree or in a cage beside their campers while they take a walk, go fishing or even leave the campground. I find this very upsetting and inexcusable.
Not only is the poor dog terrified of being left alone in a strange place, his continuous barking is very annoying to other campers and upsets their dogs too. If you take your dog camping, make sure you plan to spend time with him. If you leave him in your camper for an extended period of time, make sure you leave the windows open or the air conditioning on.
Be considerate when walking your dog. Some people are afraid of dogs, especially children. If you are passing people on a path, keep your dog close to you and if necessary, pick him up to let people pass. You know your little guy is friendly, but a stranger may not be so sure.
Don’t let your dog immediately run up to someone else’s dog, either. Their dog may not be as friendly as yours is, and you could be putting your pet in danger. People are ‘funny” about their animals, and sometimes don’t want them around another dog. Just make sure it’s okay with the owner before you let your dog pick a playmate.
Even though you are keeping your pet on a leash, you need to keep an eye on the ground he is inspecting. Not everyone is considerate about what they throw on the ground. Your dog could snatch up some discarded food, or any number of discarded junk at a campground. If there is also fishing available, you need to be especially watchful for dropped fishing hooks.
Another danger to be on the look out for is bugs and bees. I learned the hard way to be careful of these critters. I had given our camp area the once over and was assured that there was nothing on the ground to harm my little Shih Tzu. We were enjoying the warm sunny day, just relaxing, me in my lawn chair and Gizmo at my feet. He was setting quite contently, watching the people go by.
He started sniffing the ground, and the next thing I knew he was howling in pain, shaking his head. I snatched him up, and much to my horror the poor little guy had a big old pinch bug hanging from his nose! I screamed for my husband’s help and we got it off, but it was a terrifying experience for both me and Gizmo. Now Gizmo and I both look carefully every where he goes!
Last but not least, is always clean up after your dog! Carry a plastic bag with you on all of your walks. Even if you think doggy won’t “do his duty” because he just did, be prepared. You might consider it fertilizer in your own yard, but an unsuspecting camper will not care about fertilizer. To anyone else walking that path, it’s a nasty mess! Be considerate about your dog’s potty habits. You might think it’s a secluded spot, where other people won’t walk, but you got there didn’t you?
I’m sure you’ll come up with your own tips and techniques to make camping with your dog a fun experience. Until then, my tips and thoughts will get you going in the right direction. Just remember to make your dog an important part of the camping trip, not a hindrance! Happy camping…