Our Top Tips For Camping With Dogs
If you’re heading on a family camping trip, it’s only natural to want to take your dog along with you to enjoy the adventure. But, before camping with your pooch, there are a few things you need to think about.
Practice Makes Perfect
Let’s face it: some people hate camping, and it’s not for all dogs either. If your dog is frightened or skittish with unfamiliar or loud noises or likely to be nervous in new environments, then camping might not be for them. Just like you’d put your tent up in the back garden before a trip, it’s a good idea to check your dog is okay with the noises, dark and cold before planning a week-long summer camp.
You can get some great bits of dog camping kit to help combat some issues you may face, but it’s harder to get around behavioural issues. For trips to campsites or trails where you’re likely to come across other people, dogs and wildlife, you’ll need to make sure that you can keep your dog under control and combat aggressive behaviours, otherwise you may struggle to relax and enjoy your stay.
Before You Set Off...
The days leading up to your departure are the best time to make sure that you have everything you need for your dog, from food and water to poo bags. Pack all their bits in a bag, and don’t forget to take a separate dry bag for any wet towels or dog jackets that need to be smell-sealed.
We recommend doing some research on where you’re going before you set off, so you can be prepared for any challenges you may face. For those heading to a campsite, make sure you check dogs are allowed, and whether there are any rules you’ll have to follow, like only using the designated dog walk or certain dog-friendly pitches.
You'll also want to make sure there are plenty of places to visit that are dog-friendly, as you won’t be able to leave your dog unattended in your tent.
If your dog isn’t great with people, wild camping where it is safe and legal will allow you to get away from others and allow you both to enjoy camping. However, even when out in the wilds, you still need to keep your dog under control and should only let them off the lead in areas where they can’t disturb wildlife, livestock, other people or dogs.
Sharing Your Tent
Where you choose to let your dog sleep depends on your personal preferences, and your dog's behaviour. Some dogs may only settle if allowed to sleep with you, whereas others will quite happily settle in the porch or a spare 'bedroom'. Bear in mind, if you’re planning to let your dog sleep in a separate compartment from you, you’ll need to secure them properly so that they can’t wander off during the night.
Just like you pack sleeping bags and kit to keep you warm, you'll also need to consider your dog’s warmth through the night. Although most dogs won’t have a problem maintaining their temperature in a tent during summer nights in the UK, in cooler or warmer conditions they may need a little extra help. Little ideas like elevating your dog off the ground will help keep them warmer, while a cool mat can do wonders to cool them off in really hot conditions, and always make sure fresh water is available. If you plan to relax at the campsite during the day, it's a good idea to take a long line and stake so you can securely give your dog a little freedom to roam and find the comfiest spot to lay while leaving you free to relax. Never leave your dog tied up unattended though, as they can easily injure themselves trying to break free and get to you.
Out And About
When you’re heading on a family camping trip, chances are you’ll be out exploring the area throughout the day, so you need to think about how your dog will fit into these plans.
Whether you’re heading to local beaches, going hiking or visiting local attractions, it’s important to keep them under control and ensure they are safe in hazardous environments. You also need to keep things safe from them too! You should always keep your dog on their lead where requested, as there’s usually a pretty good reason for the request like ground-nesting birds or other wildlife they may upset. You should also follow any restrictions, like sticking to designated dog-friendly areas of the beach.
When you let your dog off the lead, be aware that even dogs who have good recall can get distracted by new sights and smells. Carry their favourite tasty treats with you, and make sure you do lots of recall when you first let them off- they’ll soon realise they’re better off staying close.
You also need to be respectful of other people and dogs. If you see people who look nervous approaching your dog or other dogs on leads, make sure you put your back on the lead until you’ve passed them. And, it goes without saying that if your dog goes to the toilet on the trail, make sure it gets picked up.
For long walks, don’t forget to pack water and a collapsible drinking bowl, and make sure you offer them a drink regularly, especially in warmer weather when they can quickly overheat.
The Essentials For Your Trip
Before you go...
- Check your dog’s vaccinations and flea & tick preventative medications are up to date
- Microchip your dog and register their chip
- Get a name tag with your phone number on
- Exercise your dog to make sure they are fit enough for the activities planned
- Practice your dog’s recall and get them used to walking at heel on command off their lead
- Check for anxiety
Dog camping essentials
- Collar and lead (pack a spare if you can so you can switch them if they get wet)
- Water for the trip (and a bottle to carry water in when you’re out)
- Food portioned up in sandwich bags
- Food and water bowls
- Lots of towels
- Plenty of poo bags
- Stake and long line
- Dog bed/ camping pad and blankets
- Doggie first aid kit including doggie sun lotion for summer trips
- Travel crate or harness to secure them in the car
The nice to haves:
- Adaptil Pheremone spray or collar to help settle anxious dogs
- Dog robe to dry them when wet
- Rain jacket & cold weather jacket
- Canine life jacket for swimming
- Doggie boots for cold weather or around nettles
- Wet wipes and kitchen roll to deal with muddy paws
Tips For When You're Back
- Give your dog another once-over to check for fleas and ticks
- Clean around eyes and ears, checking as you go
- Wash all of their kit
- Pay attention to their eating and toilet habits to make sure all is well
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