Is there anything better than s'mores, a campfire, and a pup? Camping with your dog can be a lot of fun, but it's important to take the necessary precautions to keep them safe. This post will discuss a few simple tips that will help you do just that. By following these tips, you can rest assured that your furry friend will have a great time camping with you!
Safe travel to and from the campsite
Before you even get to the campsite, you'll want to make sure you're setting your dog up for success from the get-go. If your dog isn't used to long car rides, you may want to acclimate them to being in the car for more extended periods of time.
If they're restless or anxious, it can lead to them excessively whining, barking, howling, or nudging you for attention. Which can distract you while driving and isn't safe for either of you.
Ensure you're securely fastening your dog in your car. Unfortunately, many people leave their dogs to roam around unsecured in their cars. We fasten our own seatbelts and make sure everyone else in the vehicle is buckled up but often don't consider our dogs. It's just as important for them to be secured in your car to keep them safe in the event of an accident.
Whether that's having them wear a harness and attaching a seat belt to it or securely fastening a dog crate in your truck bed, it's vital to take precautions to prevent injury.
Make sure your pet doesn't overheat
One of the most important things to consider when camping with your dog is making sure they don't overheat. Dogs can't sweat like we do, so they rely on panting to help regulate their body temperature.
When it's considerably hot outside, and they're exerting a lot of energy running and playing, they can quickly overheat. To avoid this, ensure you provide plenty of shade and water to help them stay cool. Also, do your best to avoid taking them on long hikes during the hottest part of the day - which is around late afternoon.
If you know it's going to be a warm day, plan on taking them for a walk early in the morning or later in the evening.
Bring these important items
Outside of the basic things you'll be bringing like a leash, collapsible food/water bowl, harness, and collar (with up-to-date tags), you'll also want to bring a few other things to ensure your dog stays safe.
First and foremost, you should have a first-aid kit and know how to use it. If your dog gets injured, you'll want to be prepared. There are many things your dog could accidentally step on or cut themselves with when camping, so you'll want to ensure you have a first-aid kit on-hand.
Second, an LED light for their collar is another helpful item to have with you. This will help you keep an eye on them at night and make sure they don't wander off, or you don't accidentally step on them.
Another thing to remember is high-value treats. Not any ordinary treat. Ones that stop your dog in their tracks and have them give you their complete attention. These treats are extremely valuable when in situations where it's crucial they listen. High-value treats are different for every dog. Some common ones are cheese, bacon, liverwurst, chicken, or plain hamburger meat. Or give these pet-friendly ice-cream sandwiches a try!
Lastly, more and more people are starting to use dog collars with a GPS. They help give you a little more peace of mind that if your dog were to ever stray too far from you, you'd be able to find them quickly.
Be aware of poisonous plants
Just like people, dogs can have reactions to certain plants. Some of these reactions can be very mild, while others can be life-threatening.
Some of the most common plants that are poisonous to dogs are:
If you're unsure about a plant in the wild, the best thing to do is to research it or avoid it altogether. It's better to be safe than sorry.
Don't leave your dog unsupervised
Even if your dog is well-behaved, it's important not to let them run around unsupervised. There are many things that could happen if they're left on their own.
They could get into something they're not supposed to, wander off and get lost, or hurt themselves. So it's important to always keep an eye on them and know where they are.
If you need to leave them alone for a short period of time, the best thing to do is to put them in a safe place like their crate, tie them to something secure in the shade, or have someone watch them.
Check for fleas and ticks
Checking for fleas and ticks is something you should be doing even if you're not camping, but it's especially important when you are. Fleas and ticks can cause many problems for your dog if they're not taken care of.
They can transmit diseases, make your dog itch and scratch, and cause anemia. To avoid all of this, make sure you're regularly checking for fleas and ticks and treating them if necessary.
There are a few different ways you can do this. You can use a flea and tick comb, spot-on treatment, or oral medication. The spot-on treatments and oral medication, of course, aren't necessary unless they actually have fleas or ticks. But, the comb is something you'll want to use often to ensure they don't have an infestation.
Teach your dog some important commands
There are a few commands your dog should absolutely know and adhere to before you go camping. These will help you keep them safe and under control while you're away from home.
The most important commands are:
Leave it/Drop it
If your dog doesn't know these commands, and more importantly, listen to them, it's important to continue training until they do. The sooner they learn them, the better.
Keep your dog entertained
Just as mental and physical stimulation is essential at home, it's just as, if not more important, when camping. As the saying goes, a bored dog is a mischievous dog.
Whether it's being destructive or chasing/following a scent or sound, the more you can do to keep them entertained, the less likely they are to misbehave. To avoid this, make sure you bring along plenty of things to keep them entertained.
Some good ideas are:
Their favorite toys
Treats for training sessions
A ball to play fetch with
Treat dispensing toys
A bone they enjoy chewing on
The better you are at ensuring they get enough physical or mental stimulation throughout the day, the less likely they are to put themselves in unsafe situations.
By following these simple tips, you can help ensure your dog stays safe and sound while you're camping. Keep in mind that these are just a few of the many things you can do to keep them safe. For more ideas, be sure to speak with your veterinarian before you leave for your adventure.
Alec Littlejohn grew up in a family of vets where pet care was discussed on a daily basis. He’s also a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, recognized author by the Dog Writers Association Of America, and the lead editor at Pawscessories.