If you’re like me, you probably can’t think of a better way to spend a weekend than camping with a four-legged friend. Dogs are the best travel companions, and they share my enthusiasm for exploring the world and being out in nature. So if you’ve been on the fence about bringing your dog along with you for an outdoor adventure, I’m here to help! Below are some of my top tips for camping with dogs!
Know the area
Of course, safety is the primary concern when taking a beloved pet to an unfamiliar environment. Although many national parks encourage campers to bring their dogs to campsites, lodging areas, and even hiking trails, a few parks do not allow it. So it’s best to educate yourself before you leave home about the area you plan to visit. Most parks will provide this info on their website along with rules and best practices. (Think things like hunting seasons, leash laws, waste disposal, etc.) This is also an excellent time to research what predators might be in the area and determine what precautions you can take to keep yourself and your furry friend safe.
Of course, we all know how important hydration is when we are out for a hike. But things like humidity levels and even elevation can affect how quickly you and your dog get dehydrated. So make sure you pack plenty of water for both of you!
Prepare for the weather and protect those paws
Of course, you’d never go camping without checking the weather! But there are many areas (especially in the mountains) where weather conditions can change drastically and quickly. So make sure you’re prepared with all the gear you need to keep you and your four-legged friend comfy and safe. Extreme heat, cold or prolonged exposure to water can be problematic on a dog’s foot pads. Also, keep in mind that they can get cuts and abrasions on their paws if they aren’t used to walking outside or if they are traversing new terrain. If you’re concerned about this, it’s best to take it slow; start with short hikes at regular intervals or short overnight trips to help your dog build a tolerance to new environments.
There are several ways to protect your dog’s paws while hiking; one is to provide paw covers or booties over his paws. In addition, some people prefer to apply paw wax, a product designed to provide a barrier between your dog’s paw and the elements. These products can protect your pet’s paws from extreme temperatures and cuts and abrasions caused by rough terrain. Also, remember to check in on their paws to make sure everything is healthy and clean.
Bring a tie out
Most campsites will require that your dog stays with you at all times instead of roaming the countryside alone. But there will be times when holding a leash will not be practical. (Like when you’re setting up a tent, making a meal, etc.) This is when a ground tie-out stake will come in handy. They are inexpensive, easy to install, and will give your dog a little bit of freedom while you set up camp.
Pack provisions but only bring out food at mealtimes
If you’re hiking, the idea of carrying EVEN MORE stuff can be a lot, but obviously, you want to pack plenty of food for your dog. They will work up an appetite just like you are, so they might be more hungry than usual while you’re out camping. Just remember that you should only pull out dog food at mealtimes. Unless you want to extend dinner invitations to other woodland creatures who might fancy a snack, it’s best to keep all food tightly sealed and put away when it’s not mealtime.
Are you ready to hit the trail now? I certainly am! Let me know if you found these tips helpful or have a go-to camp spot with your dog; I’d love to hear about your travels! Happy camping, everyone!