We’re not sure there is really a thing known as work-life balance. One always seems to get in the way of the other. But breaks must come from time to time. While some embrace the outdoors as a way of life, others use it as an escape from the rigamarole of the day-to-day grind.
How should we handle this when a four-legged companion of the canine variety is involved? There are a good many variables when you’re not in a controlled environment.
Preparation is Key for Camping with your Dog
We won’t bury the lead. A great resource for these trips is the United States Forest Service. They’ve outlined things that you might not think of when prepping to go camping.
As far as your dog is concerned… Consider everything you would take on a normal trip out of town with Rover. Leashes, restraints, bedding, bags for bathroom breaks, etc.
There are also things that aren’t at the top of the list when you're headed to a populated area. First Aid Kits for you and your puppy pal are a must. Pack enough water as you’ll never know when or where your next drink will come. Tweezers or other tools to pick off parasites are a great idea. You don’t want to bring any unexpected visitors home.
Camping Training is Also Key
This topic is always one we will highlight. We find it to be one of the most important things you can do with or for your dog. We even have a wonderful Puppy Preschool as we believe it’s the backbone of any excellent relationship between you and your pup.
While some might not be able to access or afford professional training programs, simply working with your dog in the backyard or the park will go a long way. If you’ve ever had a staycation in your yard with your friends and family, popping a tent and demonstrating for your pup should be a welcoming experience.
The better your dog is with new people or experiences, the better prepared they’ll be to try camping with you and your family.
What Else to Bring to Keep Your Dog Happy
There are two specific things here that we want to speak about not covered in the prep above.
You’re going to need to eat and so will your dog. Purchase all of the dry and wet foods along with any treats that your dog consumes routinely. Foods your dog is accustomed to eating will make this new environment easier for them to adapt to.
Sleep is also going to be something that falls under necessity. While it’s a given you might have to give up your comfy mattress for a plush sleep sack, don’t expect your dog to park it on the ground. They love creature comforts as much as you do.
To keep them in the style to which they have become accustomed-- if their bed will travel, bring it. If that’s untenable, consider some bedding that your dog is used to. Their scent on these items will go a long way.
Vets Check-Ups Are a Must Prior to Camping
You don’t want to be away from home and find that your pooch has an illness of which you’re not aware. A full check-up is recommended. Unexpected is one thing. Preventable is another. Make sure there aren’t ongoing health items you’re not yet aware of that might be exacerbated by something in the wild.
If they’re microchipped, check to make sure it’s working as expected. If they aren’t, you may want to take this time to do so. Dogs will wander and it’s in their nature to explore.
Vaccines, vaccines, vaccines. Make sure that your dog is fully inoculated from any icky illnesses that could come rearing its head from the unknown. Keep in mind, since actual puppies need to be a certain age - six months or older - you may be waiting a few months to share your favorite natural spots with them.
Have all of your pup's medical records ready to go. While everyone hopes that nothing will happen, it’s not called the wild for nothing. Accidents can occur. Having everything ready to go on your phone or in some physical form could save precious minutes if anything happens.
Where to Go That's Safe
If you’re an inexperienced traveler, your expectation might be that the wild outdoors will welcome any and all creatures, great and small. But that’s not always the case. Some campsites or public parks don’t allow pets of any kind. Others have specific stipulations.
A quick Google search will produce lists from KOA campsites, Camping World and Travel and Leisure. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Maybe you have another public place or private campground in mind? Give them a quick ring and they should let you know if it’s an absolute yes or no go.
How to Keep Them Entertained
The quiet serenity of fishing might stimulate (or soothe) you to no end. Your dog could have a different outlook on this.
Toys are a simple yet effective way to keep your dog engaged. If they have a squeaker in them they might frighten off smaller wildlife, but one of the main purposes of these trips is to share them with your dog. Additionally, these toys from home can be another connection to where they came from versus where they are.
If you know your dog to be well trained, then the leash (if allowed, depending on where you are) can come off and they’re welcome to explore. But, buyer beware. These surroundings are new for you and them. Unless you are supremely confident that your dog will not leave your side, then the leash should stay on. Their safety and well-being are your number one priority.
A Couple More Issues to Consider
Dogs love to investigate, even in their own neighborhood. These new surroundings will only set your dog’s heart into full research mode. Therefore, if he enjoys a little garbage, he’ll probably need to exercise restraint.
This won't deter other dogs from coming over to your dog for a good-natured sniff, either. Consider a muzzle as well if your dog dislikes being around people. This can significantly affect where you camp out with your dog If you feel that's a problem, you and your dog might want to go hiking in the great outdoors.
Next, think about what you hope to get out of your vacation and if your devoted fans would enjoy camping with you. Bringing your dog along might not be a good idea if you intend to spend the day touring the town or visiting touristy sites. It's just as awful to leave dogs alone at a campsite as it is to leave them in the car for several hours.
While camping, your dog should snooze in your tent. It is not a good idea to leave your dog unattended in the car, outside, or in a separate section of the tent - if your tent is even large enough to fit Fido. The extra stress of being away from you might leave your dog scarred and cause dangerous and destructive behavior. Keep in mind, your dog is already in an unfamiliar and odd environment.
Being with your dog while camping is a great idea to bond and share some alone time where there is a million miles a minute worth of distractions. You can unplug and unwind. But while you are taking a beat from everyday life, you’ll need to prepare and protect your puppy pal.
Ready? Set? Camp!
Maybe you’re looking for a new companion? Maybe you’re ready to add to your proverbial pack? Let us help you find your new best friend. From simple questions to more complex inquiries to being ready to adopt right now, we’re here for all your Doodle needs.
Jenna and the JLDD Team