I LOVED CAMPING WITH MY DOG OR DOGS WHEN I WAS YOUNGER. My wife and I used to go fishing with our first dog (we bought her with our wedding money). She used to filet the bait off our hooks and jump out of the rowboat for a swim when we were trying to fish. I also took the dogs camping across the U.S. when I went to Massachusetts to do my internship. We stopped at many National parks to camp during this trip. My dogs were always so happy to go camping. They loved to meet other people and it was a time when they could wander (on leash) with new smells and get plenty of attention. My wife and I didn’t take them so much when we had little kids (we started when they were 2 and 4), I guess, because it was more trouble with the kids. Also we camped at Yosemite a lot and bears were everywhere (even a baby one in our camp one night). We did take the dogs as the kids became older and everyone loved playing together.
I do have some suggestions to help make camping with your pets a stellar experience…..
1. LET YOUR DOG CHECK OUT THE GEAR: Set up the tent in the backyard and let him go in (or put treats in). Do it at night and use your flashlight or a head lamp so he get used to it. Kids will love this too and the headlamps.
2. VISIT YOUR VETERINARIAN: You want your pet healthy and up to date on vaccinations when traveling. Your pet may meet new dog friends and it’s better if he is protected. Ask about medications for things like fleas, ticks and snakebites (there is a vaccine). Be sure your pet’s microchip info is correct (a good time to have your pet micro-chipped is when having a dental) and bring a first aid kit. Also be sure your cell phone number is on your dog’s ID tag.
3. ADD DOG SUPPLIES TO YOUR CAMPING CHECKLIST: You don’t want to find that you’ve come without something you really need like food or his leash. Most camping places insist that you keep your dog on a leash.
4. MAKE SURE YOUR CHOSEN CAMPGROUND IS PET FRIENDLY: a quick online search or a telephone call will help you make sure that everyone in your family is allowed at the campground.
5. BRING A STAKE WITH A LEAD OR “TIE OUT” TO SECURE YOUR DOG WHEN YOU’RE IN THE CAMPGOUND: Remember I told you about campgrounds and leash laws so this satisfies their rules and makes you able to do other things with worrying that your dog might see or hear something really interesting and take off.
6. HAVE EXTRA TOWELS AND BLANKETS ON HAND: This will keep him from jumping in your sleeping bag after a swim or needing to be bathed. Our one dog always smelled like she’d been rolling in dead fish if we didn’t wash her off. Boy did that smell permeate our tent!
7. IF YOUR DOG IS CRATE TRAINED, BRING THE CRATE: It may help him feel more secure. I always had the crate as this was used when we were driving in the car. The dog liked it better having a good solid place to lie down.
8. SEEK SHADE: It’s nice to have your tent in the shade for you but also dogs can easily overheat. They mainly have only their tongues to blow of heat.
9. BRING CHEW TOYS: This is just to give your dog something to do when you’re making meals or just sitting around a campfire. Don’t give them bones though as they can attract wildlife and many kinds of bones can be a health hazard for your dog.
10. KEEP WATER IN THE DOG BOWL AND MAKE SURE IT’S FULL ALL THE TIME: My little doxy, Apples, won’t drink unless the bowl is full but dogs also don’t like lots of things like twigs etc. in their water bowls.
11. SCOOP AND BAG DOG POOP: This helps keep the campgrounds pet friendly and made other campers happy also.
12. USE A PET-FRIENDLY INSECT REPELLANT TO KEEP BUGS AT BAY: The dog would appreciate the bugs being kept off him too and heartworm is carried by mosquitos.
13. REMEMBER, A TIRED DOG IS AN OBEDIENT DOG: It helps him be campground friendly and not fussing or barking at night in the campground. Also dogs are fun to take on hikes.
14. CHECK THE DOGS FOR TICKS, FOXTAILS, BURRS AND THORNS: These can cause lots of problems if they aren’t removed. Foxtails can actually burrow under the skin and have to be removed surgically.
15. STAY TOGETHER: You shouldn’t leave your dog alone in the campground unattended. Also watch for hot tents in case your dog gets overheated.
16. HAVE FUN! and it’s a fun time to take pictures! I have clients who put their pictures on our Facebook page and we love it. Other people are also interested in camping locations or hiking trails that you may have found in Southern California (or elsewhere) that you loved. There are also dog beaches that have camping that we mentioned on our Facebook page.