If you’re going out into the wild, you can take your dog with you. For an experienced camper, this is a breeze. But the first time, there are always mistakes and learning experiences to consider.
Bringing your furry friend outdoors to enjoy with you will take some preparation and skills. This is especially important if you intend taking a puppy along.
I don’t recommend it but you can take him on the adventure anyway while considering some basic rules. Here’s my complete guide for taking a dog camping for the first time safely.
Dog camping tips
Take a reliable dog that you trust. There isn’t a guide on which breeds are okay to take outdoors because they vary in temperament and behavior. So, here are some guidelines.
Which dogs should stay at home?
The next ones are better left at home when you go camping as something could happen to them or can feel unpleasant.
You don’t want to bring a pooch that is maladjusted or extremely fearful. There are wild animals and people he doesn’t know so it is better that you leave him at home. You don’t want him to be stressed out, do you?
Female dogs in heat
Never bring a female pooch in heat. The only appropriate place for her is at home. Things are chaotic enough in a controlled environment, you don’t want to add all of the local wildlife to your list of unpredictabilities.
Don’t bring puppies. They’re not trustworthy. You probably don’t want to bring a very small one. In the wild, the smaller a creature is, the more animals there are that can eat it (puppies are no exception).
Don’t bring a constant-barker. A dog that barks incessantly will disrupt and possibly piss off the local wildlife. It’ll also ruin the experiences of other campers.
Don’t bring an aggressive one. In a normal society, there are many challenges and ways that things can go wrong. In the wilderness away from cell-phone, even more.
Leave him at home with somebody who will take good care of him. If the illness is contagious, it will spread to the local wildlife that comes in contact with anything he touched.
Even if it’s not contagious, your furry friend will be exposed to a brand new world of bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Pets that are sick need to be at home resting and recovering.
Here are 5 no no’s if you intend to bring your four-leg friend on camping.
Dog camping checklist and preparation guide
Before you go, here are some things that you should have and prepare:
- Microchip and collar tags need to be up to date.
- Be sure the pet is up to date on all vaccines.
- Check with your dog’s veterinarian if there are any additional vaccines your pet should get. For example, the leptospirosis and Lyme vaccines, and heartworm pills.
- Practice your dog’s recall to be sure he will come when calling.
- Practice a command like “leave it” to leave something alone – for example, a porcupine.
- If you have a very energetic pet, work on a “settle down” command
- Prepare a doggie first-aid kit: gauze, styptic powder, peroxide, tweezers, and a towel. If you have a short-haired one, also add sunscreen lotion.
- Plan everything out. What the rules are, where you will go and stay, where you will camp, what you will eat. Having a plan makes you more confident and that puts your pet pooch at ease.
- A doggie travel bag: a couple of favorite toys, treats, food dishes, and his camping bed.
- Consider a doggie backpack: not only can your dog carry around its own things but the added weight will wear it out quickly. Many of them will understand that they are helping and this makes them feel proud.
- Consider a high-visibility or reflective vest, harness, or jacket.
- Consider a doggie light source, like a light-up dog collar. Not only he will be able to see better, but you will also be able to detect where he is.
- Extra provisions. He will need food, but also extra water. Make sure that your tent is big enough for you and him as well.
It’s a great idea to practice going outdoors, out in your backyard. This will give your dog a chance to acclimate to the new environment and expectations.
You can practice different commands, and even some unexpected scenarios that might occur, and keeping your companion calm and controlled.
Another benefit of a practice run is that you will get to set-up and expect all your equipment. Check the gear and be sure that you are ready for the trip.
As you practice, you can find trouble spots that you may not have noticed before. For example, perhaps your dog’s claws are puncturing your tent’s flooring because they are too sharp and need to be trimmed and grinded.
When is it okay to take your dog off leash?
When you are out in the wild, anything can happen. It’s very important to remember this even though dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years.
However, they can still have a split second decision to do something wild or stupid, such as darting into the street as a car comes, chasing a bear cub, or sniffing a skunk.
Without that leash, you are relying 100% on the dog’s recall (that is, him coming when called) and him not being so caught up in the situation that he can’t even hear what you are saying.
If your camping area doesn’t allow off-leash pets, then he needs to remain on the leash. There may be issues regarding the local wildlife in that area.
If he is the type to wander around, explore, and forget that you exist, you definitely want to keep him on-leash. It would suck to have a lost pet in the wilderness.
The other reason is that when he wanders off, you aren’t there to supervise the situation and you don’t know what he is doing. He could be sniffing some trees, or he could be playing with a poisonous snake.
What to do with Dog’s Poo?
When you take him outdoors, be sure to pick up his poop. This is part of leaving “no trace behind” so that the area can stay as it was.
Specifically, dog food contains much more nutrients than if he foraged naturally, and so does its poop, thus disrupting the “closed-loop” of the ecosystem.
If the area has trash cans, dispose it there. Otherwise, you can dig a hole and place the bagged poop inside.
If you want to be extra vigilant and carry it with you until you reach a trash can, consider placing the bag into an airtight bag, such as a Ziploc bag.
How do you camp with a puppy?
Sometimes leaving a puppy at home won’t be an option so you will be forced to take him with you. If you want to take your pup outdoors then consider my advice to protect him and have a secure adventure.
The pet should be vaccinated to stay safe and meet other animals in case you will be camping in a pet-friendly campground. Take a leash with you so you will be able to take him on a walk each day.
Basic dog rules
While the dog is young you can teach them some basic rules and commands that will help you to have him under the control in the wild. Make sure to teach him some basics before you will head to nature.
Your pup is still young and doesn’t have the strength of an adult pooch. When you take him for a daily walk make sure that he won’t be exhausted.
Take shorter hikes and make sure to give him water immediately as you come to the camping location. It is a great idea to opt for a dog camping carrier that will make him cozy while you hike.
There is one more thing to mention here. Young puppies are very curious so they shouldn’t explore the surroundings by themselves.
You shouldn’t let him wander too far away even if you are taking him to a walk on the leash. The leash should be adjusted so he will walk beside you.
Investing in foldable dog fence
Investing in a foldable dog fence is a wonderful idea as you won’t need to have him on the leash all the time and watch him. Watching him constantly isn’t the best practice and isn’t feasible.
I am sure that you want to relax with him and not worry all the time so opt for a dog fence that is build of panels which you attach one to another.
This way you will build a fenced space where he can move and sleep. The fence is great as other animals can’t get to him.
Can I leave my dog in a tent?
Forget this thought as it isn’t an option to leave him inside the tent. Why? No matter that you want to leave him in the warm place he could want to get out and can damage your shelter.
It is better to leash him to a tree or put him into a fenced place so he can have his own space for sleeping and activities.
The second option is way better as he will not be restrained and have space to be. You can buy the panels that connect to a fence and put your furry friend in while you cook or when you catch a nap.
Happy Trails and Happy Tails!
Is it your first time camping with your dog? Taking him on an outdoor trip can get out of hand.
So, before you take off, consider my tips on taking a dog camping for the first time. This way your furry friend will be safe out there and you will be satisfied to enjoy your best friend’s company.