Ahhh the great outdoors, is there anything better? How about having your dog next to you? Whether you’re camping at a campground, in the wilderness, or the bed of your truck, experiencing nature with your dog can be one of the most fun and rewarding experiences you can have together. Here are a few practical tips that will help make the trip go off without a hitch:
1. Research campgrounds / places you’ll be staying
Not all campgrounds are created equal. The ones that allow dogs usually require them to be on-leash in public/common areas. One great thing to do is bring a long piece of rope to tie your dog off to a tree, picnic table, etc so they have a large radius of the campground to roam without being able to intrude on the neighbors hoping to score a couple hot dogs. Hipcamp is a great resource to find dog-friendly campgrounds.
2. Make sure your dog has an ID tag and microchip.
Having an updated ID tag, as well as a microchip, is essential when taking your dog to unfamiliar places. The last thing you want is for you and your dog to get separated and have no way for them to be reunited with you again (we’ve all seen Homeward Bound – save yourself the stress!). Etsy has some good custom ID tags and the vet will microchip your dog with your address and phone number for around $15.
3. Keep a copy of vaccine / medical records in the glove compartment
Keeping copies of medical records in your glove compartment just incase there’s an emergency is important. If your dog gets bit by something and needs medical attention and you can’t prove they’ve had their rabies shot, it could mean quarantining – talk about putting a damper on things! Your vet’s phone number is also good to have stored in your phone incase you have a question that needs answering on the road.
4. Make sure your dog is up to date on flea, tick, and heart worm medications.
There’s all kinds of insects and parasites around, it’s nature! Keep the pests away (and save your dog the discomfort) by applying routine flea and tick medication before you go. Be sure your dog is up to date on heart worm medication – heart worm is transmitted through mosquitos, which there are plenty of in the woods.
5. Don’t forget food and water.
Whether you’re camping for a week or a weekend, it’s best to measure out their food and store it in a place that’s dry. You can’t go wrong investing in good travel food and water bowls – most are collapsible and fit into small spaces like a back pack. Also, make sure to carry enough water for your dog due to some campsites not having running water.
6. Invest in a good collar and leash that can withstand the elements.
There are lots of rugged (and trendy) options for leashes, collars, and harnesses. You’ll want something that can withstand dirt, be durable, and washes easy.
7. If hiking into a campsite, consider a dog pack.
If you’re planning a multiple day camping trip that includes hiking or trekking, consider letting your dog carry it’s own food, ball, bags, etc. in a dog pack.
8. Have a towel on hand.
If you’re going anywhere with water, or a place that might be muddy, make sure to bring a towel. Nobody wants a wet dog in the tent! You can retire an old towel from your home and have it be a “camping towel”, or use a specialty dog towel that wicks moisture off your dog quickly and dries fast.
9. Don’t forget bags to pick up after your dogs.
You’ll need to carry bags to pick up after your dog just like you would at home in order to help keep parks and trails clean. We recommend earth-friendly, biodegradable ones.
10. Give them something soft to sleep on.
Dogs are used to sleeping on the ground, but why not give them something comfy to sleep on? A sleeping bag, or soft blanket will do. If you’re camping in cold temperatures, make sure it provides some warmth.
11. Bring a few outdoor toys.
Instead of carrying toys from home, we recommend bringing a few toys that are designated as “outdoor toys”, such as a tennis ball and thrower, or frisbee. These are toys they can have fun with without worrying about getting dirty.
12. And of course…have fun!
Throw sticks for them to retrieve, let them run on trails, and cozy up next to you by the fire.
And – just between us – we wouldn’t say anything if you happened to let them have a bite or two of that campfire hot dog! 😉