Wednesday, June 9, 2010
By Julia Williams
Most dogs enjoy spending time in the “great outdoors,” and taking them on a family camping trip can be a lot of fun. You can go for a hike in the woods, go swimming in the lake, or just relax together at the campsite. However, before you go camping with a dog, there are things to consider and precautions to take. Careful planning will help keep your dog safe and ensure that the experience is pleasant for everyone.
Guard against fleas and ticks. These nasty pests can be found anywhere, but they’re particularly plentiful in wooded areas. Though it’s important to have some type of flea and tick protection for your pets at home, it’s vital if you take your dog camping with you. Whether you choose to use a chemical based topical flea control or natural flea control products is up to you. Your vet may also recommend the Lyme disease vaccination. Speaking of vaccinations, before you take your dog camping, make sure their required shots are up to date. It’s wise to carry your certificates with you in case park officials ask to see them. While camping, inspect your dog frequently for ticks and if you find one, remove it immediately.
Identification is a must. Make sure your dog wears a collar with an i.d. tag that has your cell phone number on it. If your dog should get lost, either at a campsite or rest area, identification will allow you to reunite quickly.
Make sure the campground allows dogs. The website campingpet.com lists dog-friendly destinations in the U.S., along with pet rules and policies at all State and National Parks and Forests. To avoid disappointment and/or incurring fines, you should also confirm the pet policy with your chosen campground directly when you make your reservation.
Campground “pet-iquette.” Don’t allow your dog to run loose at your campsite, on hiking trails or during walks around the campground where they could encounter (and chase) wildlife, people or other dogs. If your dog causes problems, you could get kicked out of the campground, so keep your dog under control at all times. Clean up and properly dispose of all doggie doo at the campsite and while hiking or walking your dog around the campground. Don’t leave your dog unattended at your campsite, because they might bark out of boredom, fear and/or loneliness. A constantly barking dog greatly annoys people who cherish the peace and quiet a campground offers, and they may complain to the park ranger if your dog makes too much noise.
Store pet food safely and securely. Seasoned campers know how important it is to keep bears, raccoons and other forest critters from getting into their food rations, and that goes for dog food too. Clean up as soon as your dog finishes eating, and if you’re tent camping, suspend the dog food from a tree limb with your own food, or lock it in your vehicle in a sturdy storage container.
Keep your vehicle clean. Cover your seats with sheets or blankets to protect them from pet hair, dirt and muddy paws. Bring along extras in case those get soiled and there are no laundry facilities. You should also pack a clean soft blanket that you can spread on the ground for your dog to lie down on at the campsite.
Additional supplies for camping with dogs:
* Dog food to last for the duration of your camping trip plus a few extra days just in case.
* Bowls for dog food and water. Collapsible bowls are convenient and nice to have, and they’re usually small enough to fit into your backpack so you can take them along on hikes.
* Bring enough bottled water for everyone, humans included, since you won’t know for certain if the water supply is safe to drink.
* Dogs can get dirty on camping trips, so pack some dog shampoo and towels, and waterless shampoo in case you won’t have a place to wash him.
* A pet first aid kit is handy to have– you can buy these at pet stores, or make your own.
* A regular (not retractable) 6-foot leash for hiking and walks around the campground.
* Tie out cable and tie out stake, and/or portable fencing.
* Dog toys for playtime.
* A collapsible dog crate, in case you need a safe and secure way to confine your dog.
If you plan ahead and pack smart, camping with your dog can be a wonderful experience. The fresh air, exercise and peaceful surroundings will do wonders to rejuvenate you and your dog.
Read more articles by Julia Williams