Having a dog is one of the most wonderful things in life, especially if you’re a dog-lover like us. However, it is also a big responsibility. Dogs have needs too, after all, and among them are physical exercise and mental stimulation. Are you trying to come up with a way to provide both, while also creating a memorable bonding experience in the process? Then we definitely recommend camping with your dog.
Camping with dogs is definitely a lot of fun but we understand that it can be a daunting process as well since there are a lot of rules and regulations involved depending on your camping destination. Don’t worry, we are going to share with you what you need to know about camping with dogs.
Before anything else, though, allow us to answer one of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to dog-friendly camping: can you take your dog camping with you? The answer depends on the campsite that you’re planning to go to. There are a lot of pet-friendly camping sites, though there are still nice spots out there that aren’t. This leads us to the first section of our guide.
Choosing a Dog-Friendly Campsite
We usually consider a number of factors when deciding on a proper campsite to bring our dogs to. Aside from dogs being allowed, here are the other things we consider:
- Dogs are free.
- There’s a dog-friendly obstacle course or leash-free zone.
- There are dog-sized water fountains and preferably a place where you can bathe him conveniently.
- Paths are not too sharp and rocky for padded feet to tread on.
- Finally, there are a lot of shaded areas where dogs can rest momentarily when they get too hot.
If you are really finding it difficult looking for where to go camping with dogs, then here are some of our favorite dog-friendly campgrounds:
- Compass RV Park, Florida – What was formerly known as Indian Forest Campground is under new management! Not only have they changed their name, but they also made the grounds one of the best dog-friendly camping spots in the country with its own fenced-in dog park complete obstacles and free dog baggies. They have even made the extra step of separating the areas for big and smaller dog breeds.
- Cottonwoods RV Park, Missouri – We love this place because their staff is so friendly. They always carry dog treats with them and they have several dog hiking trails that you can explore nearby. We also enjoy dropping by their gift shop whenever we’re there for dog treats, toys, and of course, souvenirs.
- Holly Shores Camping Resort, New Jersey – Finally, there’s the Holly Shores Camping Resort, for those who prefer to stay in cabins instead of an RV or a tent. They have more than 30 premium pet-friendly cabins you can rent on their grounds that include a winding nature trail and a stunning fishing lake.
The Rules and Regulations of Dog-Friendly Camping Spots
Anyway, now that we’ve found the top campgrounds that allow dogs in the country, you might want to learn the rules and regulations that you can expect while there. Here they are:
- Never leave your dog unattended. Don’t leave him all alone especially if you’re planning to go for an extended day hike. Not only are you putting other campers at an inconvenience should your dog become disruptive, but you’ll also put him in danger in case the weather takes the turn for the worse, or some wildlife find their way to your campsite.
- Always keep your dog leashed in the campsite. In fact, most pet-friendly national parks require that leashes only go up to six feet in length. This will prevent them from appreciating the other camper’s hotdogs, or chasing that pesky squirrel.
- Never leave a trace. There’s a reason why most dog-friendly dispersed camping locations provide free doggie bags, and that’s to minimize waste and prevent the contamination of soil and water.
- Finally, only take the food out during feeding. Don’t leave any scrap kibble behind for the wildlife to munch on.
By the way, as we have mentioned above, rules vary from location to location so make sure to double-check on the specific rules of your chosen dog-friendly campsite.
Dog Camping Gear
For now, let’s move on to the different dog camping gear that we need to pack for the trip. After all, you don’t want to find yourself ill-equipped for your adventure. Here is a quick checklist of the dog camping essentials:
The first thing that you need to prep is your dog’s pack. That’s because you need to consult your vet about how much weight your dog can carry and train your canine buddy to get used to carrying a pack beforehand. Believe us when we tell you that allowing your dog to carry his own weight is a lifesaver! Now, once you determine how much he can carry, you can now move on to the other dog camping gear.
Pet First Aid Kit
The next thing that we never forget to bring with us a pet first-aid kit. Again, we recommend consulting your vet about the meds that you need to bring. For instance, some dog owners bring Pedialyte to give to their dogs in case of diarrhea, but you will still need to know its proper dosing and frequency.
Fortunately, Red Cross has created pet-friendly first-aid kits as well, complete with a checklist, manual, and basic gear.
Next, you’ll want to equip your dog with proper identification. Plus points if your method comes with a handy GPS tracking system so you can easily locate him if he does get lost.
Extra Food and Water
You can never have enough food, water, and treats when you’re traveling with your buddy. This is especially important if you’re expecting a hot and sunny day. Prevent your dog from having a heat stroke by always keeping him well hydrated. Not to mention that any dog will appreciate a quick snack in between long walks.
This is something you would have to carry yourself, but bringing a waterproof tarp to place under or over your dog-friendly tent is a must. Tarps will not only protect you from bad weather conditions like rain and snow, but it will also keep your tent dry and your feet warm as well.
Finally, having a pair of dog booties for camping will protect those little pads from getting injured from sharp rocks, while a warm doggy sweater can provide much-needed warmth in case it gets chilly.
These are not the only items you can pack into your dog backpack. Feel free to bring other items that you deem necessary as long as you think they will provide more comfort and convenience to you and your dog, and not just create additional and unnecessary weight to carry and endure during those long hikes.
Dog Camping Fun
You already know the rules and your dog backpacking gear is ready. You probably even have a reservation already to your preferred dog-friendly campsite. Is there anything else you need to know? Well, we have one last tip.
Plan the activities that you and your dog are going to enjoy during the trip. There are a lot of other things you can do other than going for a hike. You can go canoeing, fishing, even cycling. We’ve found it helpful through the years to have some sort of plan outlined to make the most of our bonding experience. Just make sure to leave some room for random fun and exploration and you’ll be good.
We hope that you enjoyed our tips for hiking and camping with your dog. Keep safe out there, and have fun making memories!