Camping can be so much fun that we sometimes want to bring our canines along for the ride. There’s no reason why you can’t do this—in fact, it’s been done many times. But, in the flurried frenzy of bringing our furry friends, we can forget that hounds can be more high-maintenance than we humans (well, if one of your campmates is a glamper, then this may be up for debate).
If you plan to bring your poochy pet(s) along on your next camping trip, you’ll need to plan ahead. Campers with fur are not spur-of-the-moment considerations. That being said, if you think ahead, bringing your pet along shouldn’t be too much more work than a walk in the park. Here’s your camping checklist for before you hit the road.
Research pet-friendly campsites
This sounds obvious and easy to miss at the same time, right? Of course you want somewhere that will allow pets. If you’re an animal lover, though, it may be easy to forget that others aren’t always so welcoming, especially in public spaces. You’d be forgiven for forgetting this baseline consideration. We’d just hate for you to rock up to the ‘No Dogs Allowed’ sign à la Snoopy without so much as a Plan B!
Well, that certainly puts a dampener on things.
The remedy to this is super simple: just do a bit of cold calling and a little bit of Googling! Click around campsite websites until you see something regarding the pet policy. If it ain’t there, take note of the number and give them a call. Even if the pet policy is there, call the campsite, anyway. Website information isn’t always to-the-minute, so it pays to double-check that whatever you read still goes.
Image: Stylish Hound
Pet policies and leash laws abound—oh, my!
Whilst your mouse (or finger, or stylus—whichever device you’re using) is hovering over the pet policies, be sure to check out the leash laws, too. These can vary from campsite to campsite. If your dog is not well-versed in verbal commands, the campsite may be uncomfortable with your canine—especially if it’s a holiday park with children around. There are going to be different rules and limitations wherever you go, but just keep looking and you’ll find something suitable for your family.
Plan your activities around your dog
Your camping itinerary is something you will need to curate with care. Whilst humans are largely adaptable, you will need to ensure that most (if not all) of your camping activities are canine-friendly.
For example, it is possible to overexercise your dog, so whilst dogs can make great hiking companions, you might want to save the extended treks for another time. On the flip side, if you plan too many activities without your dog, it means at least one person will need to hang back to dogsit. And obviously leaving your dog in a car unattended is a huge no-no.
Prepare for emergency situations
Fun as camping trips can be, it’s important to prepare for the worst. And if you’re camping in a location far from the nearest veterinary clinic—or out of WiFi range—then this goes double. When your dog is going far from home, ensure to bring the following, just in case:
- Veterinary records (including records of vaccination and general health)
- Pet first aid kit (including tools to treat minor injuries, and items such as antiseptic, tweezers, and bandages)
- Medication, if applicable (e.g. medicine to treat heartworms or fleas/ticks. Speak to your vet if you’re feeling unsure)
- Up-to-the-minute identification (i.e. an up-to-date microchip, and identification tags for their collar, including your name, their name, your contact number, and your address. If you have tag displaying the address for your camping location, even better)
- The phone number, address, and driving directions of the closest vet or animal hospital.
Pack the doggy bag!
And on a lighter note, there are a bunch of essentials you’ll need to bring for your furry bestie. Whether you’re bringing an extra knapsack or finding a spare corner in your suitcase, make sure to leave room for these mutt must-haves:
- Dog food and dog treats
- Water (we recommend a travel water bottle, ideally made for dogs)
- Bowls for food and water (preferably collapsible, as these travel way better than the bowls you leave out for your pet at home)
- Leash, harness (optional but recommended), and tie-out (which helps to anchor your dog if you’re all just hanging out at the campsite)
- Poop bags (preferably biodegradable)
- Dog toys and/or enrichment accessories
- Doggy car seat, doggy car cover, and ideally a doggy seat belt (which pairs with your dog’s harness).
A leash-and-harness combination. Image: Stylish Hound
Some other things to note
By locating canine-friendly campsites, curating a canine-friendly itinerary, and packing the doggy essentials, you’re almost ready to hit the road with a canine campmate. Depending on the camping conditions, however, there may be other things you’ll need to bring. For example, if you intend to camp in colder or wet conditions, you may wish to bring doggy jackets and booties. If you’re ruff-ing it in a tent (without access to a campervan or camper trailer), you may want to bring bedding.
Something else you may want to consider is travel training. If your dog is an old hand at long-distance car travel, then this won’t be an issue. However, if your dog is new to car travel—or if they haven’t travelled much beyond your local community—then you may want to look into this.
Enjoy your time away!
See, was any of that so hard? Bringing your pet along to camping adventures is as easy as a) locating pet-friendly campsites with the ideal leash laws, b) ensuring your dog is included—or, at a bare minimum, supervised—at all times, and c) making sure your dog has everything they could need (even in worst-case scenarios). Remember these three golden rules and your time away should be as golden as a golden retriever. Now, back to the camping trip! You’ve packed everything, right?