If there is one human activity dogs were made for it is camping. All the new smells, long leisurely walks, sitting by the campfire; but what can be done to best prepare for our dogs? Keep reading for some ideas to make camping with your dog a great experience for all!
1. Proper dog walking equipment. This would be a collar/harness and a leash. The leash should ideally be no more than 6 ft, leave your retractable leash at home for this trip. Due to the close proximity of one camp site to another retractable leashes pose a serious threat to both dog and human. Dogs could run out in front of vehicles, get into altercations with people or other dogs, or wrap the leash around your legs and cause injury.
2. Proof of rabies vaccination. While you probably won't be required to show this upon check-in, it should be with you. Most campgrounds are located in rural settings and there will most likely be wild animals hanging around the campgrounds. Raccoons, skunks, foxes etc all carry rabies. Save yourself and your pet from expensive quarantine requirements should they become involved in a dog to dog fight, bite a human, or tangle with a wild animal.
3. Bring some sort of outdoor restraint. Many people bring portable dog pens, or a "tie-out" that can be attached to something sturdy. This way your dog can hang out with you outside without risk of wandering off. Along this line however, never leave your dog unattended while outside. Most campgrounds specifically address this in their Campground Rules and Regulations. Nuisance barking and temperature related stress for your dog can result from being left alone outside.
4. Bring along toys/comfort items. Your furry family member may prefer your bed for sleeping, but if not, bring along his/her dog bed. Are you planning on going places your dog would not be welcomed, or would be too stressed to attend? Consider boredom toys. An example of this would be a Kong cone filled with peanut butter and frozen, or a puzzle ball filled with treats. This should keep most dogs happy for quite awhile. You can also inquire about local pet-sitting companies, they will come and walk/play with your dog while you are gone.
5. Bring the same dog food you usually feed. Now is not the time to try something new, including treats. If your dog has never had peanut butter then fill your Kong with familiar treats. And, if you have a dog with a sensitive stomach you might bring a gallon or more of water from home too. A dog with GI distress can certainly hinder your fun.
Many RV'rs will tell you they bought their RV specifically to bring their dogs on vacation with them. But, dogs are not the only animal you may find camping. Cats, especially those trained to walk on a leash, exotic birds such as Parrots or Cockatiels, or leash trained Ferrets have been known to enjoy a weekend of camping. There are campgrounds for equestrians with stalls available. Whether you have a tent or a state of the art Motor Coach, camping with your furry friend makes the experience that much more enjoyable for everyone!