When camping with your dog, what are your tips for making the trip more enjoyable for both of us?
Ahhh… the smell of dead worms and burnt hot dogs… the sights of bunnies and squirrels romping through the grass… the sounds of humans singing terribly and happily around a bonfire… it can only mean one thing. Spring has sprung, and camping season is upon us! If you’re like me, there is no better way to bond with your humans than on a road trip. And camping in the mother nature’s playground can be one of the most fun, fulfilling… and not to mention, inexpensive ways to vacation with man’s best friend.
My mom & her awesome boyfriend Jason are extreme outdoor enthusiasts, who love us dog children and can’t imagine not including my siblings and I in their wilderness adventures. Thankfully for all you reading this, there are hundreds of campsites around the country who welcome well-mannered pup! Penelope, Winston, Lucy (Jason’s dog!) and I have spent the last 2 weekends camping riverside in the beautiful Sequoia National Forest. Laura & Jason pack just about everything, including a collapsible kitchen sink, because you can never be too prepared… especially with us canines. We’ve learned a lot, and are excited to share our tips for how to keep four-legged friends safe on your next camping trip!
DOGGIE CAMPING CHECKLIST:
- Before you leave, jot down the phone # to the 24/7 animal hospital located nearest your campground. Cell phone service is often spotty at best in many small towns, and the last thing you want is to be lost in the event your dog needs emergency medical care.
- Travel safely, with your dogs in a car seat or secured seatbelt harness.
- Bring lots of dog food to keep your dog full. Campfire BBQ leftovers are a wonderful treat, but please only feed your dog such delicacies in moderation! Remember to only share lean meats without bones or excess sauce and spices!
- Bring a ton of water from home… whatever your dog is used to. Nature’s lakes and rivers are great to swim in, but you never know what’s in the water, and it could make your dog sick. With the summer heat, and all the fun activities you’ll be doing, your dog is going to want far more water than usual.
- Bring your dog’s favorite toys, and include bully sticks or something else safe to chew on. Camping is fun, but exhausting sometimes… and it’s nice for us dogs to have something mellow to do like chew on a bone while you humans are relaxing around the campfire.
- Include dog-specific items in your first aid kit, like a tick key, snake bite kit or poison absorbing first aid gel.
- Make sure your dog is healthy enough to brave the elements~ it can be extra hot during the day, then extremely cold at night. If you’re not sure, consult with your veterinarian. Depending on where you’ll be camping, your vet may suggest a rattlesnake or lyme disease vaccination.
- Double check that your dog’s tags are up-to-date, and securely attached. You may want to consider bringing flexible glow sticks to attach to your dog’s collar at night for extra visibility around your campsite.
- Be realistic about whether it’s safe to let your dog off-leash. When camping you’ll have to be extra careful with bears, rattlesnakes, other dogs, and many more potentially dangerous elements. So if there is a doubt, there is no doubt. Only let your dog hike or hang out around your tent off-leash if you are 100% certain that your dog is ready for it!
- A light-weight portable crate or exercise pen is your dog’s camping best friend. Regardless of how trained your dogs are, it’s really nice to have a safe, quiet place for them to relax. My siblings and I chill in our crate while the humans are setting up camp. Then at night, we like to sleep in our crate, which is located inside of our humans’ tent. Make sure you pack extra towels and blankets to keep your dog(s) comfty at night.
- If your dog is not reliable off-leash, or you’re at a campsite with a lot of other dogs, you’ll want to bring a tie-out or exercise pen to keep your dog safe around your tent. And whether your dog is free or leashed, make sure that you have some type of portable shade, to protect your best friend from too much sunshine.
- If you plan on swimming with your dogs, be sure to bring a doggie life jacket with a handle. No matter how great of your swimmer your dog is, you just never know what may happen in the water… so be prepared. One time, Lucy jumped in to save my mom after her kayak tipped, only to end up getting caught in the river current. Thankfully, she had her life jacket on and mom was able to quickly swoop her up to safety!
- Sun block isn’t just for humans! Please protect your dog’s delicate nose and skin from the sun. My mom likes using a sunblock stick for our nose, and a spray for our bodies. You want to use at least SPF 15 and don’t forget to re-apply often! Many companies make vegan, natural sunscreen specifically for pets, so try shopping at your local natural pet boutique!
- Definitely pack a comb and/or brush to remove stickers, fox tails and check for fleas or ticks! You’ll want to do this after every hike, and before bedtime. If your dog isn’t already on a monthly flea/tick program, you should consider a natural flea/tick spray before embarking on your adventure.
- Finally, a few non-essential dog accessories you may want to pack include a doggie backpack, paw protectors or cooling jacket. You know your dog best so make sure your dog is comfortable and ready for whatever nature has in store!
Henry David Thorea wisely said:I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
If you love the great outdoors, there is no better way to experience it than with your dog. We double as a pillow to make your tent feel more like home… We are ecstatic to help with cleaning dirty camping trips… We are committed to keeping you safe on hikes… And we don’t care how bad your campfire singalongs sound! With a little preparation, you’ll see how easy it is to include your dogs on your next camping adventure. I hope this helps, and can’t wait to see photos from all of my Petsami friends’ camping trips!
Wag on. And lick the life you’ve imagined.