6 min read (Articles narrated by Mabel)
I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it before, but I love camping! When Molly was in high school, we went camping with her family a lot. And now that we’re back in Wisconsin, we’ve started going again. Camping is exciting for any dog because of all the amazing smells and sounds. However, it can also be overwhelming for a dog who has never been before.
The campground I go to is on private land that Molly’s grandpa owns. So, we only camp around humans and dogs that we already know. This makes it much safer and more fun for me and the other dogs. Yet, I know that not all families can do this. So, how do you prepare to bring your dog on a camping trip?
Supplies to Prepare
Camping is like an outdoor vacation in a way, so you need to bring all the essentials. Whether you use a tent, cabin, or camper is up to you, but always make sure your dog has a comfortable place to sleep.
I sleep in a tent while I’m camping. It’s very comfortable, but I can easily hear the sounds outside while I sleep. This can be distracting at times, and I’m guilty of waking Molly up with my random barking. So, it’s definitely an adjustment for any dog.
Here are some supplies you should gather:
- Dog Bed – Even if your dog curls up next to you at night, you should still bring their dog bed with you. This will give them something familiar to lay on at night and in the car. It should smell like home to them, which will make them more comfortable.
- Leashes – All campgrounds have different rules when it comes to dogs, but even if they can be off-leash, you should still carry a leash with you just in case. You never know when your dog might get into trouble. A great purchase is a longer outdoor leash to allow your dog to have more space to move while tied up.
- Dog Food – You don’t have to bring the entire bag of dog food, but at least make sure you bring a little extra just in case. I’ve had other dogs eat my food before and sometimes I’ve stayed longer than expected, so it’s always better to have more food rather than not enough. Also, make sure a water bowl is always available for your dog.
- Treats – All dogs should get treats while camping. Even if they’re usually well-trained and well-behaved, they might act out in this unfamiliar setting. Use treats to help train them on how to behave at the campground and to reassure them that they’re doing a good job.
- Toys – Camping isn’t just about you. Your dog should have fun things to keep them entertained too. If you bring toys along, it’s a good idea to make sure they won’t get dirty easily. Waterproof toys are perfect for dogs that love to jump in the water. So, try to choose a weather resistant toy instead of a plush one.
- Flea and Tick Preventatives – Your dog should always use a flea and tick preventative during warm months, but it’s especially important during camping trips. If you don’t use an edible or topical preventative, you can try a flea and tick collar for the time being. But remember, your dog should be protected all summer, not just during outdoor adventures.
- ID Tags and Microchip – Dogs often get lost when they visit unfamiliar places, so you should do everything you can to make sure they get home safely if they wander off. Make sure they wear identification tags with your number on them at all times. Also, they should have a microchip with your updated information in case your pup loses their collar somehow.
- Fan – This is optional, but if you’re sleeping in a tent, then you might want a fan to drown out the background noises a bit. Taco and I love to bark at every bird chirping and leave rustling. However, when a fan is on, we can’t hear those little noises as easily.
Of course, these are just a few basic suggestions. Every dog has different needs, so you should create your packing list based on what your dog needs on a regular basis. Some other items you should probably get are life jackets for the water and seat belts for the car ride.
What to Expect
At first, your dog might be very confused and curious about camping. They’ll likely want to take in all the smells and explore as much as they can. This adventurous spirit could cause them to wander off without meaning to, so it’s a good idea to keep your dog leashed until they at least start to feel familiar with the space. For some dogs, this might take much longer than others.
You’ll want to work on training while at the campground. If you plan to take them off their leash, you’ll need to teach them where the boundaries are. Also, practice basic commands to make sure your dog will still listen even with distractions around.
If there are other dogs at the campsite, then make sure you’re careful. Not all dogs like to play, so don’t let your dog run up to unfamiliar dogs without permission. Even if your dog is friendly, there’s a chance that another dog might not like strange dogs. So, it’s safer for everyone if you control your dog regardless of how they feel about other dogs.
Before you go to sleep at night, make sure your dog spends some time in the tent, camper, cabin, or wherever they will be sleeping. After Molly sets up the tent, she usually sits inside it with me so I can feel comfortable in it. If your dog becomes familiar with where they’ll sleep, then they should be less restless at night.
The more you camp with your dog, the better behaved they should be. Camping is a new experience for them, so it will take some time for them to get the hang of it. Be patient with your dog and give them plenty of time to take in the new smells.
Finding a Campground
Molly and I have never had to search for a campground before because we always go to our family’s campsite. However, we understand that finding the perfect campsite can be tricky. Most campsites will allow dogs since it’s outdoor, but some might have more rules and restrictions than others. Make sure you do your research before just showing up.
I’ve heard that BringFido is a great resource for finding dog-friendly campsites. BringFido is a website that shows you all the fun places that you can go with your dog. So, if you’re not familiar with the campgrounds in your area, then I would recommend searching for dog-friendly places on this site.
Once Molly wrote an article about a campsite called 4 Paws Kingdom, which is made specifically for dogs. It has 8 dog parks, an agility course, a swimming pond, a dog bathhouse, and special events like dog campfire songs. It’s in North Carolina, and I think every dog should visit it at some point in their life (I still have to check it off my bucket list!).
I hope this information helped you on your future camping trips. Camping is the best type of vacation to bring your dog on because it’s all outdoors. I go camping often, so if you have any questions about camping with your dog, feel free to leave a comment!
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