Canine Friendly Camping Trips
Summer means camping trips for many families, and for some, these trips include the family dog. Bringing your dog on your camping trip can make for a wonderfully enriching experience for both you and your pet, but it also means extra planning, accommodations, and supplies. Read on for some tips on how to include your dog in your camping adventure.
Firstly, make sure the campsite you’re staying at allows dogs. Bring your dog’s documentation which includes proof of rabies vaccination and the like. Look up the campsite’s leash rules and waste disposal policies. Your dog will also need her collar, harness, and of course, up-to-date ID. Some campers even make temporary tags with cell phone numbers and the campground they’re staying at so it’s easier to contact the family if they and the dog are separated.
You’ll need to make certain your dog is current on all her vaccines and heartworm, flea, and tick preventions. Make sure you bring appropriate gear, including a crate or carrier for your car, leashes for walks and leads for supervised tie-outs, fresh water and water bowls, enough dog food to last the trip, a dog bed or blanket for the tent, and first aid kits (for dogs and people). You’ll also need a plan in case something goes awry and you need to get out of the campsite quickly and to a vet.
Have your dog sleep in the tent with you at night—it’s much, much safer than having her outside. Give your dog opportunities to get used to the tent before you go so this temporary sleeping arrangement isn’t stressful for her.
If your family is camping in a wooded area, you’ll need to be wary of ticks, both on people and your pet. Dogs can get Lyme disease, just like people, so tick prevention is a must. Also depending on where you’re camping you may need to brush your dog daily to make sure your pup hasn’t picked up loads of burrs or other plant life.
Especially in these famous Illinois summers, you’ll want to make sure your dog has plenty of opportunities to cool off—over-heating is a major concern. Whether you’re at the campsite or taking a nice little hike, make certain your dog has access to clean drinking water and shade. Carry a collapsible water dish with you and let your pup get frequent drinks. No drinking from puddles, lakes or rivers! Dogs don’t always show how tired they are, so make certain you take breaks when hiking.
As fantastic as camping with your dog may be, it does add levels of complexity to any trip. Depending on where you camp, you’ll have to be vigilant not only for ticks, fleas, and larger critters such as coyotes and skunks, but bears, big cats, snakes, and porcupines as well. Even if your dog has an absolutely perfect recall command and is an experienced camper, please keep her on leash. I’ve known dogs who’ve had terrific recalls and still ran off when the temptation was too high. Nature is very, very distracting, and you don’t want your dog in an unsafe situation.
Camping with your pet can be a great way for you to bond, get some exercise, and enjoy being outside. However, the camping life is not for every dog, and that’s just fine. If your dog is easily stressed, distracted, or a barker, camping may not be right for her. Also, if your dog is older or has health concerns camping may not be a good idea. If your dog and camping don’t mix, consider having a Pet Care Specialist take care of your pup at home so you don’t have to worry about her while you’re away.
Still want to enjoy the beauties of nature with your pet? Consider a day hike in a forest preserve. You’ll still need to bring things like fresh water and a bowl, the dog’s walking gear, and a brush for the burrs and other plant life. Always check for ticks. Start slow if your dog isn’t used to long jaunts. You and your dog will be able to get out there and enjoy this beautiful state we live in without having to worry about tents, extra gear and the other complexities of camping.
This article from Mother Nature Network is an excellent source of information about camping with your dog and includes a very detailed packing list. Happy Camping!