If you are anything like my family and I, as soon as the weather turns nice we start planning an escape. At least once a year we escape to the north shore of Lake Superior. While I haven’t tried camping with my dog yet, this year is the year I just may. If you are like me and want to share your passion for the outside with your dog, there are a few things you need to consider before you take your dog camping.
First of all, if this is a fairly long trip you need to make sure your dog won’t get carsick. Your dog’s shot records should be up to date and you should obtain a health certificate from your vet to provide this information in case an official (park or otherwise) needs to see it. Will you be able to be with your dog and supervise them 24/7? This is important and you can get thrown out of a state or national park if you don’t follow all rules and regulations; this includes your dog too. Many parks have “quiet time” rules, after which you should not be making noise that may keep other campers awake. These rules also apply to your dog and a park will not tolerate a dog that barks all night long. While service dogs are allowed in park buildings, regular pets are not. What kind of wildlife resides in the park you want to visit? If there are bears or other large predatory animals, you want to avoid any run-ins with them. A dog bell is a good idea; this will help you hear your dog and might protect them from predators.
Check the rules and regulations of the park before you go: Is your dog allowed in the park you want to visit? Do you need to pay an extra fee for your dog? Some parks do not allow pets of any kind and you should make sure that you find out before you go, so you can avoid any disappointments or fines you may incur by bringing your dog. Check the National Park Service website. Each individual state has a governing body for their state parks, it is usually the Department of Natural Resources, in some cases it is the Department of Agriculture. A number of dog friendly state parks are listed here.
Suggested supplies you may need and should consider when camping with your dog:
- If your dog is on medication, enough medication to last for your trip and a few days extra.
- Enough of your dog’s regular food to last for the duration of your camping trip and a few days extra.
- Consider bottled water, some parks don’t have water available depending on the season.
- A collar that fits properly and has the correct identification on it.
- Bowls for food and water.
- Interactive toys for your dog. You never know you may have a Frisbee champ in the making.
- Health Certificate if that is required. Even if it is not, it is a good thing to take with you.
- A 6 foot leash for walking. (Note: A retractable lead is not allowed, 6 foot is the limit and is strictly enforced.)
- A dog crate if you have one, in case you are going somewhere your dog is not allowed, or need somewhere safe to confine the dog. Many parks want you to be able to contain the dog.
- Blankets or bed for inside the crate, if your dog needs to spend time there.
- Waterless shampoo for those unforeseen mud puddles.
- Flea and or tick spray (depending on the time of year).
- First aid kit for you and your dog. (Should include tweezers for picking off parasites.)
- Tie out cable.
- Tie out stake.
- Dog Bell.
Dog coat or sweater, possibly boots (depending on the weather where you are going).
By using your own common sense and abiding by the rules and regulations of the park you visit; camping with your dog can be an enjoyable, fun experience for you both. They get to spend some extra quality time with you, which will make that special bond you have together stronger. You can make some wonderful memories and take home some great pictures of your best four-legged friend.