Including dogs in your camping and wheeling adventures can add a lot of positives to the experience. They offer protection through better sense of smell, hearing, and sight. They offer entertainment, and if they’re part of your family why not bring them along? Read on for some considerations and tips for success when including your best friend in your wild adventures.
Considerations and Cautions
A well-trained dog will be much easier to handle while camping. I spent a great deal of time training our dog when he was a puppy. He’s almost nine years old now and listens…most of the time. But I know his limits and if there are distractions in the area I don’t hesitate to keep him on a lead so he doesn’t chase wildlife or other dogs visiting the area.
Know your dog’s limitations in terms of how he behaves, and how well he listens. Camping with puppies or untrained dogs is a great deal more work and frustration – you need to be prepared with realistic expectations. If your dog doesn’t listen to you at home, the woods with its many distractions will be even more of a challenge.
Tips and Tricks
These are a few things we’ve learned through including our dog on camping trips in the Colorado mountains. Some of these tips are specific to the environment (changes in weather, cold at night, etc.). Choose what works for you, but these are all items to consider.
Research the areas you’ll be wheeling or visiting to learn any regulations that need to be followed if bringing pets (do they need to be leashed, are they allowed at all, etc.).
Make sure your dog is up-to-date on vaccinations. Talk to your vet about the area you’ll be visiting to see if there are specific vaccinations required (for example, to prevent waterborne illnesses).
Watch your dog while camping. Don’t let him eat local vegetation as some plants could be poisonous (such as water hemlock). Keep him on a leash or lead if he’s inclined to nibble on anything.
Keep watch for ticks on your dog by checking him often. Remove ticks immediately if found.
Bring more food and water for your dog than you think he’ll need. Just like being prepared yourself by bringing additional water and treatment options, consider your pet when packing for your trip. Also pack a food dish and water bowl. We like collapsible ones that take up very little space when packed.
Bring extras of your pet’s supplements or medications, if needed. Make sure your dog is on tick/flea treatment before your trip.
Invest in a coat or sweater for your dog (or both). In the mountains temps dip to 40 degrees F or lower at night, even in mid-summer, and your pup needs a way to stay warm too especially if he’s got short hair.
Invest in a first aid kit specifically designed for dogs. This may include things like Benadryl (if approved by your vet for allergic reactions to things like bee stings) and styptic powder to stop bleeding.
Consider a sleeping pad or bed for your dog. Sure, she could sleep on the cold, hard ground, but giving your dog a little padding for comfort and warmth is a good thing!
Invest in a long lead. If your dog needs to be leashed while camping (and most do, even well behaved dogs at some point), consider a long lead that will allow your dog a bit of room to wander while tied up. This way she can still explore a bit while roaming is controlled.
Don’t forget bags to pick up your dog’s poo. Because no one likes stepping in it. ‘Nough said.
And, pack the poo out with you; don’t leave it in the woods. I like to put the poo bags in a garbage bag, tie it, and then bungee cord it to my spare tire in back. This keeps the smell behind us.
Treats, treats, treats!! Bring along lots of treats and extra goodies like bones or whatever your dog likes. This not only keeps him busy for a bit while you chill by the fire, but it makes camping an extra special time for your four-legged friend.
Respect your dog’s physical limits. Just like us, dogs need regular exercise to maintain physical fitness and if you’ll be going for hikes at altitude, don’t push your dog outside his physical capabilities. This is especially important as your dog ages. E and M have an off-road camp trailer and they invested in a ramp for their dog so he can still make it up into the tent as he gets older.
With a little consideration and some preparation, bringing your four-legged best friend along to outdoors activities can be very rewarding. Do you have tips and tricks for camping with your pets? Thanks for reading and leave your comments below!