Camping season is upon us and whether you are a comfort-seeking RV glamper, a roughing-it-traditional tent camper or somewhere in between, there are some things you need to do if you plan on taking Fido along on your camping adventure.
First things first: make sure the campsite you are going to allows dogs. Most do, but there are reasonable restrictions that you should familiarize yourself with beforehand to ensure a pleasurable experience for you, your dogs and the other campers around you.
Visit this handy link for more info: campingrvbc.com/how/camping-tips/campgrounds-you-and-your-dog.
Next – this is so important and often overlooked – reserve a spot that has shade.
You might be excited to sit in the sun but your dog will be at risk of heatstroke if they do not have adequate shade. If you can’t get a shady spot then be prepared to make one. This can be done with an inexpensive tarp, shade sails or mesh sun-shades some paracord and creativity.
Mesh sun-shades are available at most pet boutiques for about $100. Personally, I have a pop-up portable shade tent that’s meant for humans and can be set up anywhere. Alternately, this shade tent can double as a rain shelter if the weather takes a nasty turn.
Leashes? Mandatory! Don’t even consider making an excuse as to why your dog should be off-leash at a campsite or along trails. Respect this rule and you will make happy campers of your neighbours.
When at your campsite, it is understandable that you would want your dog to have a bit more freedom than a standard six-foot leash offers.
That is where a tie out or an x-pen comes in handy. A tie out is basically a long cord that is attached to an anchor that screws into the ground.
These are not my favourite types of management tools as injuries can occur to dogs tethered to a tie out. But if your dog is savvy and you are aware, they are a convenient way to contain your dogs while allowing some managed freedom. I personally use x-pens. X-pens are basically collapsible, portable fencing. They are more cumbersome to transport than a tie-out, but the fencing creates a secure space for my dogs.
Also, never leave your dog unattended at a campsite and limit barking. It is normal for a dog to be excited and a bit stressed when you first get to your campsite.
But it does not mean you allow your dog to bark. No one wants to camp beside a nuisance barker! It’s a good idea to take your dog for a walk once you get set up, so they can see, hear and most importantly smell their new surroundings, this will help them chill out.
At the campsite, keep Fido occupied with some stuffed kongs, a bone or a favourite toy if he is restless. Bringing his dog bed from home can help Fido relax.
Don’t forget to bring extra water for your dog! Your campsite may have water available, but always bring extra in case of the unexpected.
Remember the bug spray, for you and for Fido. Mosquitos can ruin a camping weekend like no one’s business and ticks can carry disease.
Learn how to remove a tick safely before you go on your trip and use an insect repellent that is safe for dogs.
Here is a link with info regarding insect repellents for dogs: dogsnaturallymagazine.com/top-natural-mosquito-repellents-dogs.
Don’t forget a first aid kit for your dog. You can make your own following the guidelines here: canadianveterinarians.net/documents/creating-a-first-aid-kit-for-your-pet.
Or purchase them ready made from a pet store or on line: rcpets.com/Best-Sellers/Pet-First-Aid-Kit/Product.aspx or from here: canadiansafetysupplies.com/pet-first-aid-kits-s/136.htm.
Sometimes stuff happens and Fido runs off, so make sure your dogs identification tags are current.
Consider making a camping ID tag with your name and vehicle licence plate as opposed to your dogs and cell number, because at a campsite it might be easier to locate your way through your vehicle rather than a cellphone due to poor or no cell service in your location.
Park staff typically has your name and vehicle information on file when you register as well as your campsite lot number and these things can help reunite you and your dog quicker.
Finally, treat the beautiful country we live in with respect, clean up after yourself and your dog and leave no trace.
Joan Klucha has been working with dogs for more than 15 years in obedience, tracking as well as behavioural rehabilitation. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.