How To Camp With Dogs
You’ve decided to go camping and of course you want to bring the whole family, including your dog right? This brings up the question, how do you safely camp with a dog? Will it be a hassle camping with dogs? You just bring the dog food right? It doesn’t necessarily have to be, but there are some things you should know before heading out into the wilderness with your furry friend on your next adventure.
Lets get into the details of what to expect when camping with your dog and a few precautions you should take before, during, and after.
Do Your Research
It might feel like dogs are welcome all over the US but this is not always the case. Most established campsites will come with a standard set of rules even if labeled as dog friendly. Some can have extra requirements implying that your lovable four-legged friend remains a statue while on site. It can be quite ridiculous so do your research before you go camping with dogs.
- Must Be On Leash - leash requirements might feel restrictive for your Doggo but it’s a safety requirement for both your dog and your fellow campers. Unfortunately, not everybody is a dog lover, and as friendly as your dog might be, it could be a traumatic experience for some people. Take care around others and be respectful.
- Aggressive dogs are not allowed - some people confuse “aggressive breeds” with an aggressive dog. Logically, any dog can be an aggressive dog. A protective dog or an undisciplined dog is usually frowned upon in most environments and will cause a problem at most campsites. If your dog is aggressive, do not go camping with dogs to a place that is meant for relaxation or manage them so other campers can enjoy themselves without fear of your nippy chihuahua.
- Barking noise ordinance - dogs bark, right? They can’t communicate otherwise even though we’d like them to be fluent in our known language. That being said, it’s the responsibility of the dog owner to control the dog and keep barking to a minimum even while in the great outdoors. Control your dog's outbursts and be considerate of other campers minimizing noise pollution. Side note, dogs barking can actually draw attention for unwanted guests to stop by unannounced i.e. mountain lions, bears, bobcats, raccoons, etc. so keep them quiet and keep your dog safe.
Stay Up On Your Vaccinations
Dogs can be some of the most resilient animals on the planet. They have to be right, with their constant curiosity and no fear attitude, they’re bound to get into anything and go anywhere. It’s up to us as owners to keep them as healthy as we can so they can be with us for a long time and continue their resilience, especially while camping with dogs.
You are probably most familiar with core vaccines, the ones recommended for almost every pet. Core vaccines protect dogs from common and/or severe contagious diseases.
Core vaccines for dogs:
- Rabies – considered a core vaccine when required by law or wherever rabies is present
- Canine Distemper Virus (CFV)
- Canine Parvovirus (CPV or parvo)
- Canine Adenovirus-2 (CAV-2) – infectious hepatitis
Noncore vaccines are not suitable for all pets. When deciding whether to give a dog a noncore vaccine, veterinarians consider the animal’s age, environment, lifestyle, and overall health.
Common non-core vaccines for dogs:
- Bordetella Bronchiseptica
- Borrelia Burgdorferi – canine Lyme disease
- Canine Parainfluenza Virus (CPIV)
- Canine Influenza Virus-H3N8 (CIV or dog flu)
- Canine Influenza Virus-H3N2 (CIV or dog flu)
Ideally, puppies should start receiving core and any necessary noncore vaccinations when they are 6-8 weeks of age. Booster shots usually are given at 3- to 4-week intervals until pups are 16-20 weeks old.
What Gear Should I Bring When Camping With My Dog?
Most of us like to bring everything and the kitchen sink with us camping to be the most comfortable while camping. The list of preparedness items we must have can get quite extensive…don’t forget to take care of, and dare we say spoil, your pet too. Here's a short list of basic items you should bring while dog camping:
Additional items (optional):
- Shade cover or Pen
- Stake or Tether
- Doggy First Aid
- Toys (of course)
- Extra leash
- Current Photo
- Dog Bed
- Booties or Paw Protectant
- Collar light
Pet First Aid
A pet first aid kit should be included when you camp because accidents happen. Dogs tend to go go go no matter the circumstance. This leads to their paws being exposed to various surfaces and textures which can lead to abrasions or even cuts.
Bringing along your pet's medical records either on paper or scanned to a USB drive is a good idea for that just in case moment you may have to visit an out-of-area veterinarian.
Hydrogen peroxide is a great tool for both humans and doggo’s. It can clean wounds and also be used to induce vomiting if your dog ingests a harmful plant or critter.
Tending To Your Doggo
Bringing your dog out to the wild with you should be a bonding and enjoyable experience. After all, that's why we bring them to the great outdoors right? So leaving your pet tied up the entire time is not the move. With that being said your dog should never be left unattended unless it's secure in an enclosed play-pen or in an air-conditioned RV.
Even then, they are susceptible to becoming prey and should be protected at all times especially while you’re away. A good solution, if there will be trees in the area, is to create a zip line for your dog to have a bit of freedom while being secure at the same time.
Bringing your dog camping is all about the experience, for you and your dog. It can be an amazing bonding experience between you and your canine companion, but let’s be realistic. All if not most dogs want to play. Be sure to keep your dog occupied by taking them for walks, playing with toys, wrestling, splashing around in the water, and giving all the scratches you can muster. Having a relaxing camping experience is what it’s all about, unless you’re a dog, it can be a whole different experience.
If you do not want to tie up your pet, playpens can be a viable solution. Many different sizes and designs can be found on Amazon. Whatever you choose, be sure to park them in the shade so you can minimize any possible chance of heat exposure.
Pet Waste And All That Comes With It
For most dog owners it’s a give-in to clean up after their dog’s waste. This is the best practice and we’ll share why including the obvious reasons.
- Keeping the area clean is a good camper courtesy
- Avoid attracting other animals
That’s pretty much it. Simple right? Don’t be a dirtbag and think that just because a dog is an animal that their waste is just part of nature. It smells, attracts other animals to the area, and is a terrible thing to step in no matter what your footwear is. Bring trash bags and poop bags for a nice and clean camping trip.
How to Keep Your Dog Hydrated
Keeping your dog hydrated while outdoors is often overlooked and should be the main priority. You must remember, that most of our dogs are constantly wearing a sweater, and while outdoors the elements affect them differently than our own skin. New stresses, new environments, and the excitement of being outside - can all contribute to dehydration.
Bringing extra water is never a bad thing for both you and your pet. The average daily intake of water can easily be calculated and adjusted for weather. Obviously more water if the temperatures are high.
Using their body weight. Temperature, and activity level (or stress) as a gauge, one ounce of water per pound (or 2.2 per kilo) if you were indoors or in their element. Multiply that by at least two if outdoors in an unfamiliar setting.
Carry a water bottle and collapsable bowl if out on the trail. Pay attention to the consistency of your dog's saliva. The more milky or foamy the saliva the more your little buddy is dehydrated. Remember, dogs aim to please and will continue without hesitation. It’s up to you to keep them in healthy order and hydrate as often as possible.
Additional symptoms of overheating and dehydration:
- Heavy breathing
- Dry gums
- Bright red tongue color
Protecting Your Dog’s Paws
As resilient as they may be, your dog’s paws are just as sensitive as the palm of your hands. A good rule of thumb, no pun intended, is if your hand would be in pain or injured be exposed to an element or insect, it’s a good idea to protect those pads as well.
While outdoors camping with the furry friends look out for the following issues:
- Broken glass or sharp objects
- Cold or wet surfaces
- Ice melting salts and chemicals
- Hot surfaces and concrete
Paw protectants or booties can save your family member's paws and keep them happy for the duration of the trip.
Hiking With Your Dog
Only a rare few choose to go beyond the campground, push beyond the parking lot, and go deep into the wild for that next-level adventure with their dog. For those people, i salute you. You choose to go into the abyss seeking solitude, with exception of your trusty sidekick.
Those of you that have made this journey will need to consider a few extra things when trekking out into the horizon. One thing that you may want to consider is to get a backpack or saddle bag set up for your pooch. They are capable and strong and should carry a bit of their own weight. Take into consideration they are doing so by keeping the pace a bit slower.
Visiting National Parks With Your Dogs
Many National Parks are dog friendly with over 100 options across the entire US National Park system…However. Even though a national park allows you to bring your pets into the area, a vast majority of them will not allow your dog to join you on the trails. We’ve been disappointed many times arriving at the trail head only to be greeted by a “No Dogs Allowed” sign.
Most if not all parks will have a trail or two that are dog friendly but understand that most of the epic trails forbid dogs on route. Whether this is due to popularity or foot traffic is beyond us but the fact remains that even while dog friendly, most trails are not allowed for your pets.
Visiting Blm Land With Your Dog
Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land is vast and can be found across every state with a far more lenient set of rules. They will still have restrictions and rules but your camping trip with your dog will be more enjoyable simply due to the fact that your pet can go where you go in these dog-friendly environments.
Vist the BLM website for more information regarding pet policy and available campsites that’ll accommodate your whole pack.