This summer, many dogs and their pet parents will be heading to beaches, mountains, and everything in between for a relaxing camping trip. What could be better than roughing it in the wilderness with your pooch? Dogs love to get outdoors and see new sights, sniff new smells, and maybe even bark at the occasional squirrel. Of course, everything fun comes with a little danger. Keep safety in mind and obey laws and campsite rules to minimize risks to your dog when camping.
Preparing for a Camping Trip
If you ever plan to camp with your dog, you’ll need to get him used to your expectations on the trip before you actually camp together. For example, you’ll probably need your dog to sleep calmly in a soft-sided crate inside your tent. To prepare him for this experience, start by introducing him to the soft sided crate, with the door open, inside your house. When he’s comfortable there, try closing the door. Next, camp out in your tent in the backyard with your dog.
You should also get your dog used to the food and water that you’ll have access to while camping. If you’ll need to sanitize your water with a filtration bottle or iodine tablets, do it at home first to make sure your dog won’t refuse to drink. You shouldn’t just plan on letting your dog drink unsanitized creek or lake water. It could contain bacteria, viruses, and protozoans.
Packing for a Camping Trip
Don’t forget these essentials for camping with your dog:
- A pet first aid kit
- Proof of your dog’s vaccinations
- Dog license, if required where you will be camping
- Two leashes in case one breaks
- Extra collar in case the dog’s usual one is lost
- Information on the nearest emergency vet clinic
- Your favorite deskunking product
- Soft-sided crate
- Photos of your dog in case he wanders away and you need to ask other campers if they’ve seen your missing pooch
During the Trip
While camping, make sure to obey the laws of the state and municipality you’re in, as well as restrictions specific to your campsite. Don’t assume dogs are allowed. Always call ahead and explain you plan to camp with your dog. Some protected wilderness areas don’t allow pets. If you will be camping in the wilderness rather than at a campsite, call the local authorities to find out if the area allows dogs.
Keep your dog on leash at all times while camping, even if there is no law or rule mandating it. Dangers to off-leash dogs in wilderness areas are numerous, from mountain lions to trigger-happy hunters. Plus, an off-leash dog could kill or harm native plant and animal species, damaging the area for future campers. For your dog’s safety and that of the ecosystem you’re visiting, keep her on leash.
Don’t let your dog sleep outside your tent on a tether, as some campers do. That simply serves to make her an easy meal for any predators in the area willing to approach human campsites. Keep her in your tent, in a soft-sided crate if you don’t want her sleeping on you.