Camping is a fun and relaxing experience that you do not want to miss out on. While some may be jumping at the chance, the decision to go is more difficult for pet owners. You worry about how your dog will fare without you and how it will cope with going to strange new places.
So the big question is: should you take your dog with you or leave it behind when you go camping? If, your dog loves to go outdoors and experience new things then yes. If you do not think you will have the time to pay attention to your dog then no.
There are three basic options for what to do with your dog when you go camping. You can take them to someone else’s house, take them to a boarding house or take them camping with you.
Here is what we will cover to help you make a decision that is best for you and your buddy.
- Your three options and the pros and cons of each
- How to prepare for leaving your dog behind
- Essential packing items for your dogs trip
- Where to go if camping with your dog
- Activities for your pet
- Safety tips for camping with your dog
- Related articles
Your three Options and the pros and cons of each
You have three options when it comes to doing what is best for you and your dog when you plan on going camping. Let’s go over what they are and the pros and cons of each.
Leaving Your Dog at Someone Else’s House
Dogs require more frequent care than cats might. It is reasonable that you should leave it with someone else while you leave if you are apprehensive about bringing them along. Friends and relatives are the most reliable and trustworthy options when considering doing this. However, there are both benefits and detriments in doing so.
- Your dog will not be all alone for too long.
- Good friends and relatives may dogsit for free.
- Your dog is probably familiar with these people.
- The fear that both of you may share is somewhat diminished because you trust the caretakers.
- Someone else’s house is still an unfamiliar place with new sounds, smells, and sights. This can be overwhelming for some dogs.
- You are putting your trust in someone’s hands and you have little to no control of whatever happens next.
- You will miss your pet more than you think, which can dampen the mood for any trip.
Taking Your Dog to a Boarding House
In many places, you will find that you can leave your dog with a doggie daycare or pet hotel. These are boarding rooms set up by caretakers to house many pets all at once. This is a slightly scarier option because you do not know these people well, but there are certain benefits to doing so as well.
- Whoever runs the pet hotel likely has years of experience and can deal with any emergencies that arise concerning your dog.
- Your pup will have a lot of pals to play with while you are gone.
- These boarding rooms often have multiple staff members who can manage playtime so your pet is not bored or sad.
- You do not know if you can trust the staff with your dog; reviews online do not tell the whole story or indicate that the person in charge is actually any good at their job.
- Your pet does not know these people and might become frightened. When dogs are frightened, they might exhibit aggressive behaviors and you will have to cut the trip short to bring it back home.
- You have to pay for these services, and quality places do not come cheap most of the time.
Bringing Your Dog Camping With You
This may be the most comfortable option for both of you if you believe that your dog is up to the challenge. We all feel better when we have the company of such intelligent and loyal pets, and they love having us around, too. You have to be able to weigh whether this is a good choice, though, and it may not be in the end.
- You will be in control of the situation and you know your dog will be safer with you.
- You will both be less lonely and happier to have the company.
- It is free unless a campsite makes you pay pet fees.
- It will be a chance for your dog to experience new places. Most dogs love being outdoors, so it is a treat for them as much as it is for you.
- If you have not socialized or trained your dog very well yet, then it may be aggressive when it comes across any living thing that is deemed unfamiliar.
- The dangers that come from wildlife in the area pose a big threat.
- You will probably be further away from emergency veterinary hospitals; if your dog is injured, it will be hard to give them aid in time.
After weighing these factors, you can make a more informed decision that will be better for you and Fido in the long run. Once you figure out what you are going to do, you need to be prepared for the scenarios that might arise.
How to Prepare for Leaving Your Dog Behind
Leaving your pet is not as easy as just bringing it to a friend’s house or a boarding house and saying, “See ya later!” You have to make preparations that will keep the dog safe and happy and give you some peace of mind.
- Give written instructions to any caregiver you are leaving your dog with. This includes rules about meal time, what your pet likes to play with, any allergies or medications to be aware of, and what frightens it so that they can avoid putting the dog in uncomfortable situations.
- In addition to instructions, give the caregiver any emergency numbers and contacts you can think of. This means your number, another trusted friend’s number, and the number of your vet.
- Meet the sitter beforehand and spend some time with them. You need to know who you are entrusting your dog’s life with for the next weekend or the week ahead. Some people seem professional and caring on the surface while being a monster underneath. Abuse of animals is too common of a problem to leave to chance. Know your sitter.
- Show the caregiver how to apply or give medicines so they know what to do when the time is right.
- Pack everything your dog will need. Don’t know what to pack? I can help you out!
- Check out the place where your best buddy will be staying. You do not know if the house or facility you are taking him to is dirty or not or if it is even safe, so find out for yourself before you agree to hand him over.
Essential Packing Items for Your Dog’s Trip
Whether you are leaving them or not, you need to pack essential things Fido needs and some things that might bring him comfort or enjoyment.
If Leaving Your Dog
- Medications that need to be taken.
- Your pet’s favorite toy.
- A leash and collar with a nametag on it so that he can enjoy walks while you are gone and will be returned to you safely if he gets lost.
- Bowls and food. Nothing can live without proper sustenance, and you do not want to annoy your caregiver by forgetting and making them buy it themselves.
- A dog bed if you have one. Animals are very particular about where they like to sleep, so give your dog this little bit of comfort and familiarity.
- If your buddy is still just a pup and needs help with potty training, you may need to hand off some puppy pads. If he goes in the house, he knows where he should do it to avoid a mess.
If Taking Your Dog Camping With You
All of the things your dog needs for staying behind should be taken with you when you bring them along as well, but there are a few additional items that are vital or good to have while camping. These include:
- Extra water rations. Your dog needs a lot of water to stay healthy just like you do. You have to make room because you can’t just trust the water you find in nature to be clean.
- Take a tarp and a rope for your dog. Why? You can make an open space that still has shade. When your dog is tired of running around and wants to rest, he probably does not want to do it under the scorching sun. This provides a cool place for them to nap without overheating.
- Dog sunscreen. Yes, that exists! While cats have longer fur that covers their skin entirely, your dog is more vulnerable (unless he is a long-haired breed himself, of course.) Apply some sunscreen to the areas that will be affected most like the back, tail, and top of the head. However, it is crucial to be sure that your sunscreen is zinc oxide free. While it is okay for us, it is toxic to animals. Find some safe sunscreen here.
- Doggles. As you could probably infer, these are “dog goggles.” We wear glasses to protect our eyes, and dogs need that same protection in certain situations. They keep the sun from hurting their eyes, and they protect them when you are in sandy areas or any other place where small particles could fly into the eye and scratch it.
- A kiddie pool is always tons of fun for a dog. If you are staying in a warm place, filling the kiddie pool with a little bit of water and ice gives your dog a place to splash around and stay cool. They can even drink it as long as you did not fill it with dirty lake water.
If you can think of anything else you may even want for your pet, bring it! You may think of some when you figure out where you will be setting up camp. Let’s talk about which places will be best for your dog, and which places are best to avoid.
Here are some expert tips from Dr. Sarah Wooten
Where to Go Camping With Your Dog
The first thing you need to do when choosing where to pitch your tent is making sure that any established campsite you may go to allows pets. It would be disappointing to show up only to go home a few minutes later. That is not the only precaution you should take, though.
Some places that are fine for people like you and me are far more dangerous for our puppies. These are some environmental factors to consider avoiding when taking your dog with you:
- Very hot and arid places with little natural shade. This increases the chances of dehydration and heat exhaustion exponentially and could actually make your dog sick if you are not careful.
- The same can be said of colder climates. Even with dog boots, the freezing ground, biting wind, and snow are not ideal places to camp.
- Places near cliffs or steep hills are not advisable, either. Dogs do not always sense danger or treat obstacles with as much caution as we would. A fall, even a short one, could give your dog some serious injuries that you can’t fix on your own.
- Anywhere with dangerous wildlife is a no-go. All wild animals could be potentially dangerous, but places with bears, coyotes, wolves, big cats, and snakes are especially threatening. The big predators can smell your pet, and they may decide to come looking for a fight.
- If your dog is less social or untrained, avoid campsites that may be crowded or too close to other campers. You never know how a pet will react to strangers in stressful situations, and it can get ugly for everyone involved pretty quickly.
The ideal place for your dog to go on a camping journey with you will be:
- Grassy and open so they can run and play freely without hurting their paws.
- A place with some shade and trees around will keep your dog cool as a cucumber.
- A place near some water that is safe to swim in could be fun for both of you. Many dogs love swimming!
- A temperate or mild climate reduces the risk of overheating or getting too cold.
Activities for Your Pet
There are several possibilities when it comes to playtime with your dog depending on where you decide to go camping. All of them are dog safe and guaranteed fun! They may give you some opportunities to exercise, too.
- Go on a nature walk or hike. The beauty of the world around us is often taken for granted; explore your environment and marvel at the beautiful little things like colorful butterflies or strange rock formations. Your dog is going to love the exercise and the chance to pee on a lot of interesting trees.
- Go swimming together if it is safe to do so! Dogs are usually proficient swimmers, especially golden retrievers. It is refreshing, fun, and a way to beat the heat. The only bummer is that you will be inhaling eau de wet dog when you go inside for the night.
- Go canoeing. Yes, this is something your dog can do with you as well! If the pup is well-trained and can keep his cool, he can sit there while you paddle. This is maybe not the activity for you if your dog can’t resist jumping overboard, though. Your canoe will flip and you will be taking a dip you did not even know you wanted.
- Play catch, Frisbee, or Tug O’ War. These are things you can do at home, sure, but they never cease to excite your pet. Heaven for dogs is probably an arm that can throw tennis balls for infinity without being tired, so go nuts and prepare for the inevitable dog slobber covered toy at the end. It is truly worth it to see Fido happy, though, I promise.
- Make use of the kiddie pool while you read or cook. Your dog will have a blast and be occupied for a while so you can rest and relax.
Safety Tips for Camping With Your Dog
Camping with man’s best friend can be a blast, but you need to really exercise caution. Dogs are tough, but they can be as vulnerable as children. The last thing you want to do is injure or lose them.
- Always, always supervise your pup. Dogs tend to go a little crazy with the world sprawled out ahead of them. Their adventures could take them far away from base camp in only a few minutes if you let them wander off.
- Let it sleep in the tent with you. Chaining a dog outside is dangerous, and it scares them. Anything could come and hurt it during the night when you expose them to the wilderness without being safe.
- Always make sure your furry friend is hydrated and well-fed. Hot dogs are only good when you are talking about the food, not the condition of an animal. Overheating is dangerous and can be fatal if you withhold water for too long.
- Do not take off the dog’s collar. Again, if he gets lost, whoever finds him needs a way to return him to you. Dogs without collars are often assumed to be strays or wild, too, and people distrust and fear them. He won’t be getting any help if no one will come near him.
That is just about all you need to make a good decision for your dog and for yourself when you want to go camping. Make a plan, stick to it, and have fun! I am sure that your pup will be happy and healthy no matter what you do if you follow some good advice.