When you go camping with your dog, there's a lot to consider. You have to plan and pack not just for yourself, but for your pup too. But you don't have to stress about taking your dog camping with you. Follow these simple steps and you'll be ready for a vacation both you and your dog will never forget.
1. Plan Your Itinerary
First and foremost, does the campground you're staying at allow dogs? It's a basic detail that's easy to overlook, but it's also quick and simple to answer. Call ahead and ask about the campground's pet policy. If your dog is able to join, there may be additional fees and special rules for pet parents.
Planning for your trip can be fun, too. After you've settled on a location, research for nearby beaches or hiking trails that your dog is sure to love. If your destination is a little ways away be sure to find him a comfortable spot in your vehicle for him to relax, and always ensure that he is safe within the vehicle.
2. Check with Your Veterinarian
Before you hit the road, make sure your dog is up-to-date on his vaccinations. Also, be sure to refill any medications so you have enough for the duration of your trip.
Also, expect to encounter ticks (and even fleas) while traveling. If you aren't sure how to check for ticks and safely remove them, ask your vet for a lesson while you're at the office. When you're camping with your dog, the last thing you want is for a pest to ruin your good time. It is a good idea to make sure he has had his flea and tick medicine before you go to help keep those pesky pests off of him the best you can. If you see him scratching or biting in a certain area that is a good indication he may have gotten one and should be the first place you check him.
3. Pack the Essentials
Not only are you packing for yourself, but you're packing for your furry friend, too. Among the essential items, make sure you have a collar, leash, and ID tag for your dog to wear at all times. And don't forget to bring clean water for your dog to drink. It's important he stays hydrated while he's frolicking in the woods. Don't allow your dog to drink from any standing water, because he may come in contact with bacteria that will make him quite ill. And of course, your dog needs to eat! Be sure to pack enough healthy food for your entire trip. Don't forget to bring some treats to reward him when does a good job too. Feeding table scraps to your dog is not a good idea, even if you are both on vacation.
Another key essential to bring would be his medications, so double check to make sure they are packed away. You'll also some sort of comfortable bedding for your dog, (If you don't want to sleep on the ground the entire trip, your dog won't either!), and some toys to keep him entertained as you wind down at the end of the day.
4. Follow the Rules
Each campground you visit will have different rules for what is allowed and what isn't. Familiarize yourself with the rules so you can be sure you and your dog are following them. Leashing your dog is a common rule, so if your dog isn't used to being tied up, practice using a leash or lead before you go. This can be vital to keeping your dog safe as there is often lots of wildlife at campgrounds that your dog might want to go and check out. This can be a very negative experience if he comes in contact with a skunk. It will also ensure that he doesn't go running off into the woods, in front of a passing vehicle, or into a neighboring campsite unwanted. Hey, it's just as hard for him to resist those s'mores as it is for you!
Most campgrounds also have quiet hours, so it is important that your dog follow them as well. If your dog is a barker, make sure he is trained not to bark at night or in case nocturnal wildlife might pass your tent or camper.
Also, make sure to follow any signs that may be posted around the campground where dogs are not allowed. This could include shower houses , bike trails, or boat ramps. Dogs might not be allowed at certain swimming beaches, so make sure to check before planning a day at the beach with your furry best friend. If your dog loves the water, take him on a walk around the local watering hole to find a place that he can get in and swim easily. If you're going to be boating at all on this camping trip, make sure to follow boating safety tips for dogs.
And don't forget to pick up your pup's poop. Yes, you'll be one with nature while in the woods, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't pick up after your dog. Purchasing some biodegradable poop bags will also help keep the campground clean and nature-friendly.
5. Go on a Trial Camping Trip
If you have the opportunity, set up a tent in your backyard for one night to experience what a camping trip with your dog may be like. Will he bark at other animal sounds? Will he be afraid of strange noises? A test run will let you know which areas you two need to work on in order to enjoy a calm vacation in the wilderness.
Taking your dog camping is a great idea for you and him to bond while enjoying the great outdoors. Just remember to be prepared and you'll be able to enjoy the wilderness together, stress-free.
Erin Ollila is a pet enthusiast who believes in the power of words and how a message can inform–and even transform–its intended audience. Her writing can be found all over the internet and in print. Reach out to her on Twitter @ReinventingErin or learn more about her at http://erinollila.com.