Camping with Dogs: What to Do Before Booking a Campsite
What says summer fun more than camping? Bringing your dog along for the adventure can be a great bonding experience and an opportunity for them to experience new sights, sounds, and smells.
But camping with dogs can’t be done on a whim. For a successful trip that keeps your pups safe, it’s vital to prepare ahead of time. Here are 7 important steps to take to prepare for your camping trip before you book a campsite.
1. Make an Appointment with Your Vet
Before you go on any kind of trip, it’s important to check in with your vet to make sure your dog is healthy enough for travel.
While dogs are unpredictable and you can never fully plan for emergencies, knowing that your pup is healthy before leaving can help prevent medical emergencies while you’re gone.
Your vet can also make sure your dog is up-to-date on all their vaccines and give you a copy of their medical records. This is important as some campgrounds and other dog-friendly spots may ask for proof of vaccination.
This is also a great time to make sure your dog is microchipped and up-to-date on their flea and tick prevention. The outdoors presents many safety hazards, and both of these preventative measures will help your dog stay safe.
2. Research Campgrounds and Pet Policies
Before booking a campground, make sure to research the campsite’s pet policy and any specific rules they have. Not every campground will be pet-friendly, and even the ones that are may have specific rules in place.
Look for leash requirements. Most pet-friendly campgrounds will require that you keep your dog on a 6-foot maximum leash at all times to keep them safe and protect other camp patrons.
Barking ordinances are also common at campgrounds, so ensure you understand what those policies are if you have a reactive or more vocal pup.
3. Plan Your Travel Route Carefully
In addition to researching the campground, you’ll want to research the route you plan to travel as well, especially if you’re going camping somewhere with a long drive. Plan your travel route to include dog-friendly places you can stop so your pup can use the bathroom, play, or just stretch their legs.
Many rest stops will have large open areas to take your dog for a walk, and some may even have fenced-in dog parks if your furry friend needs some extra exercise and playtime.
4. Prepare Your Dog with Training and Conditioning
There are so many aspects of camping that your dog will need to be prepared for before it’s safe for you to take them with you. Not only can the car ride be stressful for dogs that aren’t used to the drive, but your dog will also need to be comfortable around other people.
Work with your dog on obedience training before you leave, especially their recall. The outdoors can be unpredictable and having a reliable recall can keep them safe from wildlife and help prevent them from getting lost.
Make sure your dog is comfortable with all of the camping gear as well. Sleeping in an enclosed tent may be scary for a pup that’s never seen one before, so spend some time before the trip conditioning your dog to associate the tent with positive experiences, like treats.
5. Get the Right Gear
Your dog’s safety is the top priority, and the right gear can help protect them. Before you leave, check that your dog’s collar and ID tags are in good working condition. Make sure you can read all of the contact information and that the collar fits your dog securely.
Your dog’s current leash and harness will work, but if you plan to do any swimming during your camping trip or exploring in the dark, an upgrade to a waterproof or light-up leash and harness is a great idea.
Boots are another great way to protect your dog from the elements. Your dog’s paw pads are sensitive and too much contact with rough surfaces can leave them scraped, scratched, or otherwise injured. Booties protect your dog’s paws so they can keep up with you on your adventure.
6. Pack the Essentials
In addition to the right gear, you’ll also need to pack all of your dog’s essentials for the trip. This will differ from dog to dog, but generally, you’ll want to make sure you pack:
- Food and water, including extra in case of emergencies
- Dog treats
- Dog first aid kit
- A stake or tether for your dog’s leash
- Dog waste bags
- A dog rain jacket
- Vet records and important medical information
- A blanket or bed for your dog to sleep on
- Outdoor-safe dog toys
7. Do Quick Outdoor Test Runs
Before you commit to a full weekend (or longer) of camping, it’s important to start with a short test run. If you have a backyard, this is the perfect place to test your dog’s wilderness abilities.
Set up a tent in your backyard to see how your dog will behave, and go through all of the typical motions of camping. You can even invite some of your friends over to simulate the other people at the campsite.
This will help your dog acclimate to being outside for long periods, give you a better idea of how they’ll behave, and help you both feel less stressed when the big camping trip finally comes.
Is Your Dog Ready for a Camping Trip?
Camping can be one of the most fun experiences that you can have with your dog. From relaxing in nature to hiking in the woods or swimming in a nearby lake, there are so many exciting ways to make memories.
Camping with your dog is also filled with unpredictability. To make sure your four-legged friend stays safe, it’s crucial to do your research, work with your dog, and prepare as much as possible beforehand. With these tips, you can have fun and stay safe with your pup on your next trip. Happy camping!