10. Honestly Evaluate
The first step to camping with your dog is deciding whether or not your dog is up for the adventure. It may sound simple, but an honest evaluation of your best buddy can often be difficult, and you’re not doing them any favors by going against their best interests. If your dog tends to disobey, wander off, or become upset by altered circumstances, it may be best to leave them in the care of a trusted family member.
9. Safety First
The basics of doggy care apply just as much in the wilderness as they do at home. This just means making sure that your dog’s vaccinations are up to date (pack the papers in your glove compartment in case the park needs to see them) and bringing a first aid kit with you. Don’t skimp on the food and water that you bring, either. If you go camping often you may want to look into a doggy backpack so that your companion can carry their own belongings on the trails!
8. Gear Up
Speaking of doggy backpacks, there are a number of products on the market that are aimed at dogs and designed to help them get along more easily in the outdoors. These products include sleeping bags, protective booties, glow-in-the-dark collars, collapsible water bowls, life jackets, towels, and the usual backup baggies, leash, and other day-to-day items.
7. Feeding Fido
It may be tempting to share freshly caught fish right off the fire, or s’mores, or to overfeed your dog while you’re out in the wilderness because “he’s on vacation, too,” but it’s best to bring your dog’s regular food and continue to feed her at the regular times. Dog stomachs are sensitive to sudden changes in diet and you don’t want any upset tummies while you’re trying to relax!
6. Temporary Tags
If you’re going to a state park or campground with miles of empty space, you may rest easier if you have a temporary tag made up before you hit the road. Something added to your dog’s collar with your cell phone number and campground may go a long way in providing you with peace of mind!
5. Constant Companionship
The easiest way to keep your dog safe from the wildlife at your campsite is simply to keep an extra eye on them. Tying your dog up and going on to another activity may seem like second nature, but when you’re in the backyard of bears, mountain lions, or other predators, it’s best not to leave your dog in a position where they are trapped somewhere away from you. Just bring them along; they’ll be happy to hang out with you anywhere.
4. Train for Success
If you have a typically couch-bound Cocker Spaniel, this isn’t the time to induce a trek across the Pacific Crest Trail. Like any marathon runner, dogs need conditioning to achieve extraordinary feats of athleticism. If your pooch has a paunch you may want to consider upping the endurance level of your daily walks before going on an outdoor adventure that may be more challenging for them.
3. A Taste of Home
Just like any other travel, your dog may be excited to be with you, but also will experience some natural homesickness. Bringing along their normal bed or a pillow that smells of home could be an easy way to make your camping trip run a little more smoothly. And you may appreciate having your favorite pillow or blanket as well!
2. Plan For the Worst
It may have been implied already, but it’s best to be prepared for anything when you’re camping with your dog. The fact is, you’ll be too far from home to deal with anything other than the fun stuff, so it can help to be ready for everything that the world can throw at you. Bring a photo of your pets in case you need to ask if anyone has seen them, and bring the number of a local emergency veterinarian that you look up in advance.
And lastly, but of course, not least:
1. Scooping Poop
The dirty facts of poop-scooping is that there’s no real vacation from it. Anywhere that you’re not days away from a port-a-potty, you’re still responsible for discarding all of your dog’s droppings. At the very least, keep the trail clear, and bury anything that you can’t throw away.
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