Just when you thought hiking is for humans only, here we are encouraging you to take that next hiking trip along with your furry best friend.
It would probably be the best trip you would ever take in this lifetime especially once you realize how good of a travel buddy dogs are — unless you have one screwball of a canine.
Before anything else, we know for sure how much you’re dying to ask a lot of questions. First and foremost, we’re here to address the most dreaded one of them to soothe any dog owner slash hiker out there.
Can You Take Your Dog Camping With You?
The answer is and always will be a ringing YES.
Dogs are the type of domesticated animals who love both the outdoors and staying in close proximity with their owners. They are the clingiest breed, so camping with your dog is such a great idea. They might even consider it as the best moment of their lives.
Now, before anything else, you must be careful once you say yes to this adventure. There are factors that you need to clear first before executing the plan. Safety should always come first both for you and for your fur baby.
To equip you better with the right mindset and attitude when going on an adventure with your four-legged pal, here are nine tips that you should keep in mind.
1. Schedule a Veterinarian Appointment First
If you’re a good dog owner, you know exactly why it is important to always go to your pet’s veterinarian appointment. Just like us, dogs need to monitor their health too.
The importance of having your dog checked before a strenuous activity should be a MUST. You should take an extra trip to the vet if you’re planning to take your dog outdoors more so when you go camping with them.
Why? Here are two of the most important reasons: one, you need to make sure that they are in their best condition before the trip and two, you can ask the vet on what to do when an emergency situation occurs.
This way, you’d have a better grasp of the whole camping with your dog idea and could practically save your pup’s life in case anything like that happens.
2. Ensure That it’s a Dog-friendly Campsite
Before going on that trip, call the national park information center or the headquarters of the campsite you are planning to visit to clarify if the area is dog-friendly.
Because if it is not and you’re just learning about it the moment you get there, you’ve just wasted time and effort to drive up the mountains, not to mention consume fuel that should have been saved had you called earlier.
Now, if you find out that the campsite you are eyeing is dog-friendly, the next question to ask is whether they have specific rules for those carrying dogs. Some may require you to leash your dogs at all times, while others may let them roam around freely.
It’s best to have a fine print of all these restrictions to avoid paying a fine in case you unconsciously break any of the rules.
You must also be aware of the areas made for when your dog has been called by nature. Being a responsible hiker includes knowing where your dog can dump their poop and pee. You can’t just let them do their thing anywhere, especially if there are poisonous plants around the area.
3. Attach a Contact Info Tag
If dogs are allowed to roam freely around the site, it’s likely that they enjoy the ground so much that they have a tendency to lose their way back to your tent.
In case that happens and you forgot to put a contact info tag on your dog, heaven knows how bad of a nightmare that is for dog lovers. To avoid any situations such as that, attach that one important tag on their leash before leaving the house.
I’d say this is that one instance where you should believe in the saying “better safe than sorry.”
Don’t take this little piece of information for granted. If you have the time and the luxury, have the info tag be engraved to be able to survive certain outdoor situations like being submerged into water or be covered in mud.
Now is not the time to scrimp and make sure to provide the best type of tag for your dog.
4. Have Bug Spray for Dogs
You may carry one for yourself, but since dogs are part of the family, you have to bring a bug spray for them as well.
You’ll never know what your dog might get during this trip, so you better be prepared to battle out the possibility of fleas and tick infestation on your dog’s delicate fur.
This is the outdoors we are talking about. There might be insects lurking around in the corner to annoy your fur baby, so you need to do your part as a responsible dog owner.
For added protection, you can also treat their bed and blankets with permethrin. You must also check them from time to time in case there’s an annoying bug that has survived all these layers of protection on your dog.
5. Know What to Pack
Looking for the perfect campsite for you and your canine may be a challenge. But if in case you decide to go all the way to the other side of the country for this adventure, the only way to settle your packing woes is to bring the right luggage you can find in your home.
In case you can’t find one that fits your needs, you can check out this site for the best-checked luggage.
Once you have it, here’s a list of everything that your dog needs during the transit and the actual camping trip itself.
- Poop bags, and make sure you have enough of them. Don’t be shy to bring extra pieces of it as you may not know how many times your dog needs to take a dump especially if they get excited.
- Don’t forget to bring their food. It’s safe to bring the usual one he takes on a daily basis to make him feel comfortable even in a different setting.
- It’s important to hydrate your dogs so a water bowl or a bottle is important.
- If you can, bring a smaller version of their bed to make sure they sleep comfortably. But if in case your baggage allowance won’t allow it, an extra blanket will do.
- Remember to put your dog’s leash in your bag. Don’t worry about the contact info tag, as it should be well-attached to the collar before you leave your house.
- You must also bring your dog’s first aid kit. During the trip to the vet, you can ask him or her regarding important meds that should be included in the kit.
- Most important one of all, your dog’s vaccination records. The campsite HQ might need to check that document first before letting your dog in their premises.
6. Pack Enough Food and Water
Although most vets would recommend a twice-a-day meal set up for your dogs, it’s still best to pack enough food and water during the trip.
Since there might be days that would require your canines to be more active, you have to be ready when they go hungry frequently. You have to make sure they get the right amount of calories and energy that they’ll be needing to carry on with the trip in their best condition.
Once they become sluggish, you’d be sorry you didn’t pack enough food, which in turn can give you a hard time to pull them from their resting position.
A water bowl should always be ready anytime they ask for it. And even if they don’t, you have to make sure that they are well hydrated during the entire trip.
This is another way to ensure that they don’t go looking for a stream to drink water from, especially if you’re not sure if that’s a potable source.
7. Protect the Paws
Humans don’t have any problem hiking along difficult trails as we are equipped with boots for the occasion. But in the case of our furry babies, they don’t have enough protection on their paws to survive a hot ground and an extremely cold path of snow.
You must be sensitive enough to know that they also need some paw protection. There might be boots made for dogs, although they don’t particularly love the feeling of having something stuck on their arms and legs.
The quick solution to that dilemma is to put on a wax product directly on their paws especially if you plan to go camping during the winter.
As for the hot ground, if you deem that the trail is too hot for them, save the hike for later and just stay inside your tent until it’s safe enough for your dogs to walk on it. Either choose a hike very early in the morning or during the late afternoon, when the sun has finally decided to cool down.
8. Tailor Camping Activities for Your Dog
If you have an athletic dog, then you can plan activities that will excite the athlete in him. But if in case your dog is a bit of a snob and doesn’t want extremely tiring activities, be creative enough to come up with fun exercises for him as well.
Whatever it is that you feel like doing with your dog, whether snuggling all day inside your tent or running around the campsite playing fetch and other fun dog activities, you can do them all.
Just make sure that your top priority is the welfare of your companion. There may be times that they’d feel lazy to do anything, just let them. Wait for them to be fully adjusted to the place.
9. Check Your Dog Regularly
Checking your dog regularly is an admirable trait in any dog owner. Given the completely different situation, your dog may exhibit unusual gestures that you must keep an eye on.
They might be bugged by ticks and bites, or worse, cut themselves during the hike. So by checking upon them from time to time, you would avoid at least most of these situations.
You must also be aware when it’s time to give your dog their food and water, to keep their energy level high and to make sure that they are at their most comfortable state. Better yet, keep the park ranger hotline on your speed dial in case your dog went missing or needs urgent attention.
This whole camping trip idea is exciting! It will even get better once you’ve finally decided where to take your pup.
Don’t be too scared to try new things or to explore more options on how you can bond with your dog better. If you know how to deal with the situation and how to handle every step of the way, then you and your dog will most likely have the best of times out there.