Vacationing as a Family = Camping With Dogs
Of all the vacations you can bring your dog on, camping is the most fun and likely least expensive. Hiking, boating, swimming, grilling meat, sitting around the campfire, sleeping in a tent or tiny cabin... they are activities that most dogs would love to do every day. Sharing a vacation with your dog is awesome, and you don't have to round up sitters or pay for a kennel!
A Checklist to Prepare your Dog for Camping
Things to Do:
- Get Vaccinations and Licensing Up-to-date
- Grooming Check - coat, paws and nails
- Flea, Tick, Mosquito repellant
Things to Bring (Tips):
- Paperwork for license, vaccinations, etc.
- Collar and Tags
- Seat-belt Harness
- Life Jacket
- Any medicine your dog might need
- Water bowls
- Food for the duration
- Dog backpack
- Dog sleeping bag
- Cooling mat
Camping Supplies for Dogs
Depending on the activities you are planning you may need things that won't be provided at the camp general store, and you'll certainly save money if you buy them before you arrive. Life vests, flea and tick medicine, dog-safe sunscreen, and a seat belt to keep you and your pup safe while you drive.
You might consider GPS Dog Collar to track their location in case they get lost!
Hiking with your Dog
My absolute favourite camping with dogs moments come from the hikes. If your dog is trained to come when called letting them run off-leash is a joy.
Don't forget to check the camp rules first. Seeing your dog run at their own pace and then double back to check in with you is fulfilling to say the least.
To me, this is how dogs were meant to exist with us. Of course this isn't always possible, but when it is, by all means take advantage. Let them run free!
When it isn't allowed... give them a good trek. Go uphills and over rocks. Climb across streams and fallen logs.
Don't be tempted to break the rules. Hiking on leash is more of a challenge but can be just as memorable. Especially since you'll have to work harder. Wear comfortable shoes and check your dog's feet for signs of blistering/scrapes every time you stop to rest.
Drink plenty of water, put a doggie backpack to good use and don't forget to leave the path exactly as you found it. Pick up dog messes if it's required, if it isn't required to remove them from the path. Common courtesy is essential to keep hiking enjoyable for all campers.
And don't forget your camera.
When your dog can carry his own backpack, hiking will be more fun for all! A good dog backpack can save you a lot of trouble. Don't forget travel bowls for pit stops.
Canine-Friendly Camping Activities
Here are some traditional things you may want to try with your dog:
1. A nature trail
Even more fun if it's a tour. Make sure to find out if you'll be allowed to bring your dog. Some camps prefer only humans on the tours.
2. The beach
Playing fetch into and out of a lake is a lot of fun for a water loving dog. Again, make sure to find out if they'll allow pets on the beach, and if you are allowed to let them off leash.
If you can't let them off leash then think ahead and buy a suitable size for a smaller game of fetch. Or try swimming with your dog. Just don't go out too far, a leash can complicate their paddling.
3. A several mile hike
This is a great time to try out a backpack. Put anything you need for your dog into the pouches. It's a great relief to have your dog carry his own water and bowl.
4. A social walk
Bring your dog around the campground and meet some of your neighbours as they go about their camping chores.
Just make sure you ask permission before having your dog greet them, not everyone loves dogs as much as dog owners do!
My dogs all love sitting around the campfire at night with their family. It's a cozy way to cook your food and warm up before crawling into a sleeping bag.
Have some treats so you can praise their calm behaviour. Keep them leashed in case of curious raccoons.
If your dog is on Ketogenic diet you might consider this Keto Food for Dogs.
If you look into it, there are a lot of campgrounds that are dog inclusive. If you find one that lets you rent a paddle boat, row boat, or canoe, try taking your dog along. New experiences make for tired out dogs lounging around the campfire.