Dogs Can Camp With the Best of Us


Whether renting a cabin, climbing a mountain, or toasting marshmallows around a backyard campfire, don’t be shy about packing up your pooch and taking him along for the adventure. With a little preparation, your dog can enjoy the great outdoors just as much you do!

Find Pet-Friendly Destinations

Not all trails, campgrounds, parks, or cabins are pet-friendly. Use a resource like GoPetFriendly to locate the pet policies of various destinations. No matter where you go, be an ambassador for pet-friendly camping: Follow leash laws, pick up after your pet, and don’t leave him unattended.

Help Your Dog Have Fun

To make your trip more enjoyable, help your dog acclimate in advance. If Fido is typically a couch potato, go for longer walks leading up to your trip. If you will be sleeping in a tent, set it up in your backyard for a few days. Crawl in there with him and sit calmly for a few minutes to help him feel comfortable. Some dogs take longer to adjust to new or unusual things, so lay out any equipment or gear ahead of time to prevent unexpected surprises.

Pack Your Pooch’s Essentials

In addition to enough food and water for the entire trip – plus a little extra, just in case – pack a dog bed or blanket, a leash, and poop bags. Even dogs that are reliable off-leash can become distracted or disoriented in a new environment. To give your dog a little freedom while ensuring his safety, bring a 20-foot lead in addition to your regular leash. And while you may enjoy singing songs around the campfire, your dog may get bored, so bring some of his favorite toys to keep him occupied during people-only activities.

Plan for Your Dog’s Health and Safety

Start with a pest-prevention plan, and check your dog once or twice a day for ticks. Bring a pet first aid kit to treat any on-the-spot injuries. If temperatures soar, soak a bandanna in cold water and tie it around your dog’s neck. Be sure he has access to plenty of fresh water. If he starts to overheat, use the rubbing alcohol from your first aid kit to swab the inside of his ears and the pads of his feet – since dogs can’t sweat, this helps to cool them off.


Hiking Tips

There are extra considerations if you’re hiking: If you expect your dog to carry his own food or water, incorporate the pack into your daily walks a few weeks before the trip. Start with an empty pack and slowly build up to the full weight. In addition, hiking can be rough on a dog’s feet; pads can tear or lacerate. When you stop for the day, wash your dog’s feet and coat any cuts with an antibiotic ointment. And just as you need frequent water and trail mix breaks, your dog will require plenty of water and additional calories. Stop often and allow your dog access to clean water and healthy snacks.

Images: Laertes, jljohnstone