Looking to savor the last of the summer fun and head out for one last camping trip? Taking your dog with you can add tons of fun and be an enriching experience for your beloved pup. If you aren’t experienced at getting your pup out on the open trails overnight, we’ve put together some tips for you so you are better prepared to stay safe and have fun.
1. Check the campground rules before you go
That means the first step in planning your adventure should be consulting the dog rules. You may also need to bring your dog’s license and proof of vaccination to be allowed to stay. Knowing this before you go will help prevent disappointment if you don’t have what you need and can’t stay.
You also want to check on the required dog vaccines for the state you’ll be visiting and the campground itself. These can vary widely and you want to make sure you are compliant and that your dog is protected. If your pup doesn’t get a lyme disease vaccine and you are planning on some hiking in an area known to have a high tick population - it might be worth consulting your vet about getting vaxxed before you go.
2. Keep your pup with you at all times (or bring another trusted person to watch them)
One of the rules of the campsite may be that you can’t leave your dog unsupervised. This means not leaving your dog in your car, camper, or tied out by your tent while you hike or head out for a meal. This can be disruptive to others on the campsite and dangerous for your dog. If you aren’t able to keep your dog with you the entire time, consider bringing a second person to also stay with your dog or leaving your dog at home or with a sitter.
3. Keep your dog on a leash
Many campsites and trails will require that you keep your dog on a leash, and some will even go as far as to specify that the leash should be no longer than 6 feet (a standard leash length). Check leash regulations before heading out and ensure you are compliant. Off-leash dogs can provoke on-lead dogs and/or be reactive to other dogs or cause other dogs to become reactive. To prevent unwanted interactions on the trails, keep your dogs on leash and under your control. You can also (politely) communicate with other dog owners if your dog needs a little extra space.
4. Pick up all waste
When you’re out there, nature will undoubtedly call and it’s essential to know how to handle these situations. We’re not just talking about dog poop, but yes, that too! Pick up and pack out any waste that you make when at a campsite or on hiking trails. Dog poop can disrupt the environment even if your dog is making healthy poops. Litter can attract animals to your campsite or make them sick. So please respect the campsite, trails and wildlife by striving to leave no trace!
5. Bring all the right supplies
We’re not talking about the top-of-the-line camper, tent, and sleeping bags, but if you and your pup are more into glamping than roughing it in nature, by all means. Make sure you have food and clean drinking water for you and your dog and that you can secure it so that hungry wildlife don’t come snacking. If the weather is going to be too hot, cold, or wet, bring gear to protect you and your pup from the elements. This might include a cooling mat, sun protection, and warm sweatshirts and blankets at night.
Extra dry towels will come in handy if you get wet. For dogs on longer hikes, you may also want to invest in a pack for your pup so they can carry food, water, and waste bags. You also want to keep a first aid kit for you and your dog in case of injuries like minor cuts and scrapes, upset stomach, bug bites or anything else that may come up when you’re out in nature.
6. Co-sleep safely at night
For your pet’s safety they should be sleeping with you at night. Keep your dog securely in your tent or camper with you. This is for a few reasons. First, you don’t want your dog to be attacked by the local wildlife or to wander off in the middle of the night and get lost in unfamiliar surroundings.
Make sure your tent or camper are secured with both of you inside before getting some much needed shut eye to prepare for the next day’s adventures. If you want to get your pup their own sleeping bag Ruffwear makes a great one along with a pad for the tent.
7. Store all food securely when not eating (don’t attract other wildlife)
Keeping your campsite clean isn’t just about preserving the natural habitats. It is also important not to attract animals like bears, big cats, coyotes or foxes. These animals may become aggressive if they are scared (or sick) and could come after you or your dog.
Hungry animals may seek out any open food or food waste so keeping all food properly secured when you aren’t eating is critically important. And as we mentioned in tip 4, you want to leave the area as you found it - so take your trash with you or dispose of it in the proper place! If you don’t know how to store food, this article from REI offers great tips and product recommendations.
With a little research, some shopping and planning ahead, you and your dog can have an amazing time camping together. While having a few photos to remember the trip by can be nice, remember to step away from your phone for a bit and enjoy nature and some R&R with your very best friend!
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.