Never been camping with your dog? Here’s the basics to get you thinking!
-set up a tent in your home, or your backyard, go inside with your dog, bring lots of treats, and hang out to get them comfortable
-zip up and down the tent while you are inside together
-take your dog inside the tent after they are exercised and take a nap together
-Open a door halfway and show them how to get in and out even if the doorway isn’t open all the way
-Teach your dog to wait until you open the door to jump in
-Teach your dog what the mesh is, that they cannot go through the mesh when it is closed
-do not zip your dog inside the tent, with you outside (or vice versa) until you are confident they are calm
-start with car camping, you always have a place to escape to, and you can easily bring more gear
-make sure you camp with someone experienced or are comfortable camping alone, there’s nothing worse than having to take care of both your dog and a human!
-choose a place to camp where you can easily walk your dog during the day, we always research trails around the campsite as well as trails while driving to and from the location. Do this before you are out of reception!
-I advise to get tents that are not ultralight. Ultralight tents are have very thin mesh and materials and tend to rip quickly when a dog taps the material in order to get out. Duct tape is always a good idea!
-here’s a post I wrote specifically about tents and dogs
-Babywipes are always useful! Camping was never a clean activity!
When you get to the site
-go somewhere that isn’t packed with as much space as possible between campsites, book or choose a campsite away from bathrooms, perhaps in the corner of the campground where you will have the least amount of people wandering by
– bring a long line to tie up your dog if they wander, a Tuflex check cord works the best as it doesn’t knot, is easy to clean, and is still flexible in cold weather
-if there are bugs, see if you can bring natural bug repellent like citronella candles, read all the directions of bug repellents. Remember your dog is (most likely) smaller than you and are more effected by poisons. There are some bug sprays and electric repellents that state you cannot use when you are eating or around small ponds with fish (it poisons the water) or with babies or kids. I would not use these with pets!
-a dog mat is always a good idea, even if you dog doesn’t need it, just to keep everything clean, and to have a “place” for your dog to return to on command.
-say hi to your neighbours if they’re friendly and introduce your dog, mention that it’s their first time camping and bring treats if it helps. Be really nice especially if they have kids or another dog.
-walk your dog around the campground if he’s friendly
-respect your neighbours and make sure you clean up after your dog
-if your dog wakes up early or stays up late due to the unfamiliar territory, take him for a walk to tire him out
-try and keep to any routines you might have at home (time you eat, sleep, bedtime routines)
-close the fly so your dog cannot see outside if they are guarding, or barking at noises or people
-keep an eye out for people passing by and work on rewarding your pup for not barking, and for being friendly, the site will probably be “his” territory so you’ll have to make sure your dog knows who’s in charge and that you have your eye on things
-If you must leave your dog (to go to the bathroom or clean dishes for example), leave them in the car to avoid wildlife, strangers coming by, or whatever else may happen, do not leave your dog in the tent alone. I’ve had my tent “walk” after me on occasion. You can also leash your dog outside the bathroom or ask someone to keep them while you go.
-keep a jar of treat (or kibble) around and use this as a training opportunity, although respect rules about food and wildlife, especially bears.
-Pick up after yourself and your pup when you leave the campground
-Inspect your tent for any holes or damage and repair it before the next trip
-If you hit any issues with camping, work on training at home before going out again. If there are issues guarding, or anxieties, you can practice at home or in a backyard before heading out
-Make a list of equipment or situations that could be improved. Depending on where and how you camp, there are loads of gear and solutions that may be available. For instance my dogs prefer to sleep on my mat, in my sleeping bag no matter how many dog beds I bring, so I now have an extra long, extra wide mat and sleeping bag to house them. However while I’m not actively sleeping, I bring their own beds that can be dirtied and used in and out of the tent so they can go in and out of a bed while not making a mess out of mine.