As a valued member of any household, dog owners quite rightly want to take their dogs on holiday with them. While sometimes this isn’t possible if you are leaving the country by plane, (you can put your dog in a hold but it is astronomically expensive and cannot be at all pleasant for even the most chilled of pups) taking your dog on a good old fashioned road trip is definitely achievable – even if you are camping at the end of it.
Camping does come with its drawbacks however when taking your pooch with you – sharing your bed space with a snoring canine has its novelty wear pretty thin very quickly, but there are ways around many of the difficulties that camping may throw into the mix. Here we list our top tips for camping with dogs so that the family holiday is enjoyable for every family member – including you and your pooch. In fact, camping with dogs can be one of the best experiences out there, so read on to learn how.
Tips for Camping With Dogs
Follow these tips for camping with dogs to have the best holiday ever.
Make Sure the Campsite Is Dog-Friendly
Making sure your final destination campsite is dog-friendly may sound obvious, but it is easily overlooked. By dog-friendly, we mean two things. Firstly, that the campsite itself actually welcomes dogs in the first place. Some don’t for a variety of reasons like they want to keep the place free of dog feces and sometimes would-be campers don’t want to share their site with canines, either because they are afraid or allergic.
Secondly, for the campsite to be dog-friendly, there need to be a certain amount of facilities available for your pooch to be comfortable. Access to an area where they can poop for one, as well as places to tie your dog to when you need to leave them for a short while – perhaps if you need to use the facilities yourself or wash up your camping dishes and cutlery. Some campsites really go to town in being dog-friendly and so have play parks for pooches or lots of huge dog bowls of water around the site so dogs have constant access to clean water to drink. Some will even have thought of doggy showers to enable guests to keep their tents, RVs, and cars clean.
Plan Your Route
We often go camping a fair distance from our own front door. If this is the case, we need to ensure that we include enough comfort breaks for our dogs along the way. Strictly speaking, dogs should be able to get out of the car every 3 to 4 hours for 15 to 30 minutes to stretch their legs properly and go to the toilet should they need it. They also need to have the chance to have a long drink.
Another thing to note is how hot they may get if they are properly secured in a crate as they should be. Often, we pack in so much camping gear to the boot or trunk of our car, where our dogs are likely to be as well, that we actually don’t give them the proper ventilation. Couple this with the fact that you are likely to be camping in Summer and that there is little to no air conditioning in the boot of a car, and you have yourself a very hot dog who is not able to cool down through sweating like us. Check out our guide on the best dog crates for more info.
Other options are to pack lighter, (do you really need the kitchen sink?) or look into a dog car harness for the back seat of the car or a dog seat belt. This way they are able to benefit from the better ventilation at the front or back seat of a vehicle. Obviously, if you have RV camping with dogs in mind, this is less of an issue – but dogs still need to be secured properly during travel. Head over to our reviews of dog car seats and dog car seat covers for more alternatives.
Pack Logically and Efficiently for Your Dog Camping Trip
Our dogs are usually the most easy-going members of our household given that really all they need is food, water, a bed, and a daily walk and you have answered their basic needs already. For camping, however, it can be easy to forget some key items that will help them remain the easy-going member of the household.
For instance, don’t forget essentials like a dog water bottle, a dog food bowl or even a dog sleeping bag for your trip. This ensures that you can feed your pup easily every day without worrying about sharing food containers with them. Obviously, you also need to pack the right amount of their kibble and don’t forget that just because they are on holiday, they should not be fed titbits from the camping table. Not only does this cause havoc with their diet, but it also can undo any hard-fought for training with them in the desisting of begging when there is human food around.
A separate dog water bottle is a great idea as it stops cross-use between dogs and humans and often they come with an attachment that lets dogs drink out of the easily – they are perfect to take with you if you are going hiking on your camping trip.
A dog sleeping bag is also an oft-forgotten essential too. Camping can get cold in the night owing to be far more exposed to the elements. Just because your dog has a lovely fur coat, don’t assume that he or she will be warm enough. You can buy dog sleeping bags very easily these days and it will give your dog the perfect bed space and way to keep warm. They can still snuggle into you if that is what floats your boat!
One really good idea is actually to pack a dog first aid kit too. You could be stuck in the middle of nowhere if your dog injured themselves so having a first aid kit dedicated to your pooch can be really helpful.
Towels that are designated for use by your dog alone will probably be one of the most used items that you pack if you take your dog on a camping trip. Dogs tend to find water and mud wherever they go, so having a way to dry and clean them quickly can be so useful. For a wider selection of choices, check out our dog drying towels guide.
Lastly, a dog backpack for both you and your pooch can be a great item to include in your packing. It means your pooch can carry his essential items on days out exploring nearby woods and lakes like poop bags, a collapsible dog food bowl, and his dog water bottle. Dogs are very strong so it can be great to have them carry their own essentials round sometimes!
Have Dog-Friendly Activities In Mind
For your camping trip with your dog to be a true success, try to remember to include dog-friendly activities on your days out from the campsite. Otherwise, there was little point in you taking him or her, plus they are more likely to act out through boredom.
Activities like hiking, walking, and swimming are all things dogs would love to do all day every day if they could so try to include them on your camping holiday if possible. Most campsites will be in a beautiful area that is prime for long walks to take a ball with you and include a game of fetch or frisbee if you are going en famille.
Plus, the advantage of taking your dog on long walks, hikes or swims is that you tire them out so that you don’t have to worry about any misbehaving when you return to the campsite full of lovely campfire smells and BBQs.
Remember The Rules
Just because you are taking your dog on holiday with you does not mean that the rules that your dog abides by should be forgotten. Commands like come here, sit and heel will probably all be used on a daily occurrence so hopefully, you won’t notice any bad behavior on the part of your dog in that respect.
But bad behavior such as begging and eating things that they shouldn’t can be much more easily forgiven when on holiday. This can mean that when you return to your home, your dog still behaves like he or she is on holiday. So remember to be strong and reinforce the rules that you have tried to instill in them even while you yourself are relaxing. It will have a much better long term result than if you allow them to get away with things they ordinarily wouldn’t under a proper roof.
Is Your Tent Dog Friendly
Researching what tent you’re going to take with you on your trip can be vital to your holiday’s success. The best tents for camping are ones that support your trip and enhance your experience as opposed to you muddling through and trying to make do. Essentially, if your tent isn’t suitable for a mutt, you are setting yourself up for guaranteed failure.
To ensure your tent is one of the best tents for camping with a dog, it needs to be suitable so you need to think about you and your dogs needs – where will he sleep? Where will you sleep in relation to where you are? These are key things to think about before you leave. Where will you dry him off? Where will you keep his muddy things and where will you keep his food or feed him every day? Some tents are designed with answering all these questions in mind, but some will do better than others for your specific pooch. So try to be considered before you pack a tent that you simply bought because it was on offer at the local camping store. For more options head over to our guide on dog tents.
Think About Their Security
Before setting out on your journey, look ahead at how you will secure your dog should you need to leave them alone for a short while. We all hate leaving our dogs, but sometimes it is necessary though it is never a good idea to leave your dog in the car especially in Summer – even with the windows cracked. It simply isn’t safe due to the risk of overheating and dehydration.
You may also like our article on Dog Water Fountains.
As stated before, some campsites will have areas that you can safely tie your dog up while you love them for a short time. Other dog loving campers are quite happy to leave their dogs in the tent if they know that they can trust them to behave. Others simply put their leads on and attach them to a tent pole in the ground (obviously depending on their strength to pull them out!) whereas others will just take them everywhere they go.
Do whatever works best for you, your pooch’s stress levels as well as what remains within the rules of the site itself. Some simply don’t condone dogs being left on their own for other campers’ safety.
Finally, think about going RV camping with your dog. It may sound indulgent but it can take a lot of the hassle of taking your household, plus your dog away with you. Moreover, an RV will already have packed the kitchen sink for you so you don’t have to. If you don’t own an RV yourself, it is still very possible to go RV camping with your dog through rental sites. Just ensure that you choose dog-friendly ones and you’re good to go!
Camping with your dog can therefore be a wonderful experience – it just pays to think ahead about it a little first.
- Camping with Dogs – Blue Cross
- Camping with Your Dog? Read These Vet-Approved Tips – PetMD