Dogs are considered man’s best friend for a lot of good reasons. Their loyalty, love, affection, and their personalities combine to make dogs considered as four-legged family members by many people. For any dog owners who enjoy camping, including a pet is the perfect way to make every trip just that much better.
Camping with dogs isn’t overly difficult to do by any means. However, there are some things that you should know before tossing your gear in the car, whistling for your canine companion, and hitting the road.
Before you make for the woods, a trip to your vet is the first destination you should visit. Have your vet give Fido a general checkup and make sure he is up to date on all his vaccinations and shots. Ask questions about flea and tick control and whether or not your dog should be vaccinated against Lyme disease, which is a disease transmitted by ticks. You will also want to make sure that your pup is protected against heartworm. The main goal when camping with dogs should be for everyone on the trip to return home as happy and healthy as when you left.
If your dog is not fitted with a microchip for identification purposes, before camping is a great time to have this done. Even the best leashes and most attentive owners can lose track of their dogs, especially if a particularly interesting scent is on the wind. After all, not every pet is as resourceful as the pets in Homeward Bound!
Training is another important step to camping with dogs safely and enjoyably. The level of training that your dog needs before tagging (or should it be wagging?) along on your next camping trip will depend on the type of camping that you plan on doing. Long hikes and backpacking trips into the backcountry require a higher level of training than, say, a weekend stay at the local campground.
Every dog should have basic commands (things like sit, stay, and lay down) mastered before a camping trip is considered. For those of you who plan on more intense camping trips including long hikes or longer stays in the woods, endurance is another vital thing to focus on. You know your dog best, and need to “listen” to what they are telling you. Frequently check for signs of your dog tiring or experiencing pain, and slowly build up to more intense camping trips as you go.
For backcountry hikes or trips where your dog has a little bit of freedom, the “leave it” command is extremely important. When a properly trained dog hears this command, they will immediately drop whatever they have in their mouth or leave an object alone. When you consider that there are poisonous plants and venomous animals in the woods (not to mention skunks and porcupines among others), you can see why this command is important.
Packing appropriate supplies for your dog should also be done for every trip you make into the woods together. This includes food, water, treats, a puppy-friendly first aid kit, toys, and something comfortable to sleep on. Even if you’re going to be camping near water, you will still want to pack water for your dog. It isn’t a good idea to let your dog drink from natural water sources, because you never really know what kind of bacteria or creatures they might slurp up. Giving your dog natural water that you have purified using various accepted methods is also ok.
If you take the time to carefully plan your camping trip, properly train your dog and stay tuned into what your dog’s body language is telling you, then you’re going to have a great experience camping with your dog. Use these tips, extra research, and some common sense, and camping with dogs will quickly become one of your favorite new ways to spend time outdoors!
KOA offers great options for camping with pets!
Writer. For Roadtrippers. For KOA. For sanity. Catcher of fish. Baseball fanatic. Proud to call Ohio home.