Camping can be an exciting experience for everyone involved, and a dog helps to make the occasion even more enjoyable. They have a way of reminding us to take things one minute at a time and to really investigate our surroundings. Some planning must go into camping with a dog safely, but the work is always well worth it.
Here is the ultimate checklist for camping with your dog and some tips to make sure that the experience goes smoothly:
The Ultimate Checklist for Camping with Your Dog
1. License and Identification
One of the most important things to do when preparing for your camping trip is to ensure that your dog is outfitted with a license (if required in your county) and identification. These things will help ensure that you will be reunited if you lose track of your furry friend at some point during your camping trip.
The license and the identification should be in the form of tags so they can be attached to your dog’s collar. The license tag should include your dog’s license number and the name of the county they are licensed in, and their identification tag should include their name and your phone number at the very least. It’s also a good idea to check your dog’s microchip before your camping trip.
2. Harness and Leash
Even if your dog has excellent recall and sticks by your side while exploring the outdoors, it is imperative that you bring a leash along at the very least. If you run into a wild animal or another dog that isn’t very friendly, you can ensure that you maintain control over your dog no matter what happens. It might also be a good idea to bring along a harness if your dog likes to chase wildlife. This will help keep them from injuring their neck when they pull on the leash to go on a chase.
Packing food for your dog is a given, but it is easy to underestimate how much should be brought on a camping trip. Remember, your pal will burn out more energy than usual just like you will. Therefore, bringing more food than they would normally need might be necessary. If you will be camping for 3 days, bring extra food than what your dog would normally eat at home. This should help ensure that they have the energy they need to keep up on the hiking trails.
4. Food and Water Containers
There is no need to bring your dog’s regular food and water dishes on your camping trip, but you’ll need something to provide them their nourishment in. Collapsible food and water dishes can be reused, and they won’t take up much room in your camp pack.
5. Plenty of Waste Bags
A couple of plastic bags likely won’t do the trick when cleaning up after yourself during your camping trip. Even though you will be in the wild, leaving your dog’s waste on the ground is never acceptable—even in the middle of the woods. Their waste can harm wildlife due to the possible transmission of bacteria to wildlife.
Other hikers can also step on it in the area, which is never any fun. So, it is important to bring along a whole package of doggy waste bags and several large garbage bags to hold the litter waste bags and any other trash you accumulate during your camping experience.
6. A Towel
You can bet on the fact that your dog will get wet and/or dirty during your camping trip. Letting them in your tent without being able to clean them off can make for an uncomfortable overall experience. You can get a new doggy towel for the trip or you can use an old towel to clean your furry family member off before bedtime. Just hang the towel up after use, and it will be ready for the next night.
7. Some Reflective Accessories
Although you’ll likely stick by your dog’s side at all times, it can get extremely dark and hard to see anything at night when you’re camping in the woods. Even if your dog gets a few feet away from you, it might be impossible to see them unless they are wearing something reflective for you to focus on. A reflective vest or collar can help ensure that you never lose track of your beloved furry friend.
8. Bug Repellent
Dogs should never wear bug repellent made for humans, as the chemicals in them can cause problems like vomiting. However, there are some dog-friendly bug repellents on the market to consider grabbing before your upcoming camping trip. Mosquitoes can bug dogs just as much as us, so the extra protection will help ensure your dog’s comfort while you’re living under the open skies. Some products come in a spray form, while others come in clothing form, like this cool bandana.
9. A Life Preserver
If your dog is like most adventurous dogs, they know how to swim, and they enjoy jumping in a river or lake just as much as a human would. No matter how strong of a swimmer your dog is, it’s a good idea to make sure that they are outfitted with a life preserver whenever you will be around any body of water during your camping trip. Ones like this life preserver are easy to put on and include handles so that you can easily and effectively grab your dog if they ever get into trouble in the water.
10. Some Entertaining Toys
You can count on there being some downtime after long hikes and other activities while you camp, but your dog might not be ready to rest and relax when you are. Bringing along a couple of entertaining toys for them to play with while you hang out in your camp chair will help ensure that everyone is happy, comfortable, and well-exercised throughout your trip.
11. A Thick Blanket or Mat
While you likely have things covered when it comes to comfort inside your tent, keep in mind that you’ll have a comfy chair to sit on outside, and your dog will be left with the ground to contend with. Placing a mat or thick blanket on the ground will give your pup the opportunity to lounge in comfort, so they’re well rested and prepped for the next hike.
12. Some Dog Booties
The hiking trails near your campsite might be rough, which could hinder your opportunity to hike as much as you would like due to damage to your dog’s paws. You can avoid this problem by having a pair of dog booties or shoes handy—just in case. Put the booties or shoes on your dog periodically in the days leading up to your camping trip so that they can get used to wearing them.
13. A Dog Backpack
There is no reason why you must haul your furry pal’s stuff during hikes, as they have a strong back of their own that is capable of carrying a load. There are a variety of doggy backpacks on the market designed to allow for the carrying of food, water, and other small items depending on the dog’s size. Even your little dog can carry a little food for themselves and help make your load a little lighter.
Tips for Making Sure Your Camping Trip Goes as Planned
Now that you have a checklist of everything to do and bring along for your camping trip, there are a few tips we’d like to share with you that can help ensure a smooth experience from beginning to end. Here’s what we suggest:
Find Dog-Friendly Accommodations First
Don’t expect that any campground you want to go to will accept dogs as guests. While many do, some prefer to keep the park free of dogs to limit their responsibility and liability. If you show up to a campground with a dog that isn’t allowed, you may end up scrambling to try and find another place to sleep for the night. Use a website like HIPCAMP that has filters for pet-friendly camping accommodations to find out which places in the area you want to visit that will welcome your dog with open arms.
Keep an Open Mind
It’s important to remember that you cannot control everything that happens during a camping trip with your dog. If you’re rigid about all your plans and there is no room for compromise, chances are that you won’t have very much fun during your experience. It’s best to keep an open mind and go with the flow whenever possible as long as you and your dog are safe.
Learn the Layout of the Land
Before heading out on your camping trip, pull out a map and get to know the layout of the area where you’ll be visiting. Take the time to learn the names of the streets surrounding the campground and understand the layout of any hiking trails that you plan to go on. This will help ensure that you don’t get lost during your journeys and that you know how to search for your dog if you get separated from one another.
Taking your dog on a camping trip is a great way to create a tighter bond and ensure that you both get a break from the stresses of everyday life. With our ultimate checklist, you won’t forget anything that you will need to enjoy an epic camping adventure together, whether for just a weekend or for an entire month!
Featured Image Credit: A_B_C, Shutterstock