How to Go Camping with Your Dog – and Love It!
Published September 21, 2022
Most dogs love the outdoors. If you’re a “nature” person, too, then you’ve probably at least considered going camping with your dog.
After all, taking a dog camping sounds amazing. They love long walks. They’re excited by every new tree, rock, and bush. And wildlife? Don’t get us started.
As with most things, though, it’s not that simple. There are a number of issues you need to consider before camping with a dog to make sure you both have a getaway that’s safe and fun.
Learn the Rules
There are lots of campgrounds that will allow you to bring your four-legged family member with you. That being said, this isn’t always the case, so it’s imperative that you make sure dogs are allowed before setting out.
Beyond this, each place will have its own rules regarding what dogs can and can’t do and where they can go. For example, there are a hundred miles of dog-friendly trails in Acadia National Park, but Rocky Mountain National Park doesn’t allow your pup on any trails. Rules also vary about whether dogs can go on beaches, in the water, and so on.
Always check ahead of time.
Generally speaking, you’re going to want a fairly well-trained dog who is good at listening to and following you before you let them loose in the Great Outdoors. In addition to overall behaving, though, there are a couple of specific commands you should probably practice.
What: A recall command is simply a phrase, action, or sound you use to bring your dog back to your side.
Why: Chances are good that, if it is allowed, you’re going to want to let your pup off-leash at times while camping so they can explore and enjoy the outdoors just like you. But if you’re going to do that, you need to make sure they’ll come back the instant you want them to.
This is both to keep them away from people who may not feel comfortable and for their own safety if they start sniffing around something they shouldn’t.
What: You probably already have a pretty good idea of what a “leave it” command is. Quite literally, it’s how you tell your dog to get away from something you don’t want them near. Or to drop something from their mouth that shouldn’t be there.
Why: This is obvious, right? Left to his own devices, Fido may think it’s his job to go after every squirrel, snake, or piece of moldy food he encounters on a trail – and end up getting hurt or sick in the process. “Leave it” is your way of preventing this from happening.
Practice these before you go and make sure they work relatively well.
Plan for Health and Safety
This may seem like overkill, but remember that the wild is, well, wild. You never really know what might happen, or how close you’ll be to medical help. For this reason, we recommend:
If your pup does end up needing medical care, it’s incredibly useful to have a copy of their records on hand for the vet. Sure, they will probably be able to contact your current vet and get them, but having a copy saves time and avoids potential issues.
Getting a Checkup
While we’re on the subject of medical care, taking them for a checkup before camping with your dog is just smart. You can double-check that vaccinations are up to date and make sure there are no undiagnosed injuries or illnesses that might make things more difficult.
Packing Pet First-Aid
You don’t have to desperately search for a vet for every little problem. A doggy first aid kit should be able to handle most smaller problems. We suggest bringing:
- Hydrogen peroxide (for cleaning wounds)
- Styptic powder (stops bleeding)
- Tweezers (to pull out ticks)
Updating Contact Info
Confirm that the information on your dog’s collar and tags is correct and up to date. If you want, you can even enroll them in a 24-hour recovery service.
Using Flea and Tick Prevention
One thing we can guarantee your camping trip will have? Bugs. Lots of bugs. For your pup, that means the possibility of picking up fleas – or even ticks. Minimize this possibility by applying the proper prevention at least three days before you leave for your trip.
You should also make sure your pet has an up-to-date microchip before striking out on your adventure. Microchip implants at Essentials PetCare are $30 and include lifetime registration. Already have a microchip but need to update your info? We can help for just $15 so you can avoid the hassle.
Know Your Dog
Ultimately, every dog is different, and no one knows them better than you. So be honest with yourself about how camping with your dog is likely to go.
Do you have a lazy-bones or an athlete? A pup who is cautious – or one that’s bold and adventurous?
Whatever their personality, you need to account for it. Your lounger probably isn’t going to make that 5-mile hike you have planned. If your dog chases after everything that moves, you may want to keep them on a shorter leash – literally!
If you’re genuinely unsure how your pup will behave on a camping trip, one way to gauge it is to start with shorter day trips.
Essential Tip: Did you know that there are actual dog camps? A number of businesses around the country have sprung up offering camps specifically designed for dog owners and their pups! Do a Google search to see if there’s one near you. And get more tips like this by joining our newsletter.